Abbeyside Bring Tony Mansfield Cup Back Home

County Under-21 Hurling Final 2018

Abbeyside 3-13
De La Salle 1-12

Mac Dara Mac Donncha Reports

It was entirely fitting that in the last-ever County Under-21 Final was claimed by the men of Abbeyside.
Firstly, the trophy is named after the Village’s great stalwart, Tony Mansfield, who passed away in 2013 and, secondly given that they won the inaugural title at this grade back in 1966, trained by Tony Mansfield, defeating the Gracedieu club in the Final. Whether losing the past two finals to the same opponents provided Abbeyside with additional motivation at Fraher Field on Saturday last is difficult to gauge but no-one could dispute that the hoops were the better side over the hour. Conditions were good at Fraher Field with a pretty benign breeze, thankfully in front of a fine crowd (with gate receipts of €1,370) with a good contest largely expected prior to the throw-in.

Abbeyside players celebrate following their win over De La Salle in last Saturday’s County Under-21 ‘A’ at Fraher Field. 								| Photos: Maurice Hennebry

Abbeyside players celebrate following their win over De La Salle in last Saturday’s County Under-21 ‘A’ at Fraher Field. | Photos: Maurice Hennebry

The opening seven minutes indicated that we might well be in for a ding-dong battle with the sides settling in slowly, sharing four points between them. Eoin Kiely and Thomas Douglas both proved accurate from placed balls, with Eoin Kiely opening Abbeyside’s account with an opening minute free. ‘Tonto’ Douglas did likewise before scoring a fine point from play, with a very short backswing required to strike the ball. Douglas was easily De La Salle’s best forward, in a unit which never really clicked, but it’s worth pointing out that the Abbeyside defence stood firm throughout and prevented the city men from clicking into gear.

Eoin Kiely equalised again with his second free of the afternoon before wing back Evan Whelan advanced and clipped over an excellent score as De La Salle were ahead for the second and final time. The game’s first significant score came in the eighth minute when Conor Prunty charged forward and crashed the ball past Shaun O’Brien, a well-taken individual goal which came at a most opportune time. A feature of Aaron Beresford’s play was his astute puckouts and when Sean Whelan-Barrett was left unmarked, a rapier-like puckout found him and he flashed the ball between the posts. Thomas Douglas’s second free made it a two-point game but even now, at the end of the first quarter, it was becoming apparent that De La Salle were struggling to get possession of the ball.

Michael Kiely clipped over a point, followed by Eoin Kiely’s third free which put clear daylight between the sides after 17 minutes. The game’s second goal came three minutes later. Tom Looby’s long high delivery looked innocuous enough but was clutched by Abbeyside’s burly full-forward Kevin Dwane, whose pass found Michael Kiely. The county minor star slammed the ball past the hapless Shaun O’Brien to leave seven points between the sides (2-05 to 0-04). Eddie Meaney made a fine fetch before being fouled and Douglas slotted the free over the bar, but overall, De La Salle were far too reliant on him for their scores. Neil Montgomery, who started slowly, played himself significantly into the fray and he lofted a real beauty over the bar in the 23rd minute.
Mikey Costigan scored what was De La Salle’s second score from play before a rampaging Prunty run enabled Sean Whelan-Barrett to stretch the lead out to seven once again.

Wrapping up the first half scoring, Thomas Douglas converted another free; indeed, the only blemish of a competent 30 minutes by Abbeyside was their six wides with the westerners leading by 2-06 to 0-06 at the break. Upon the resumption, Tom Looby’s early score increased Abbeyside’s lead before a brace of Thomas Douglas frees gave De La Salle a glimmer of hope by the 37th minute. Conor Prunty, of whom so much is expected in Waterford colours, advanced with purpose once more to bisect Shaun O’Brien’s uprights to restore their lead to six points. Eoin Kiely had a goal chance only to see his shot blocked but Kevin Dwane became Abbeyside’s fifth forward to register a score with a 39th minute point.

The killer score in this contest was delivered in the 42nd minute. A neat Mark Twomey delivery found Michael Kiely who soloed with purpose before brilliantly crashing the ball to leave Abbeyside 3-10 to 0-09 ahead.
De La Salle badly needed a goal and almost got one immediately, Dylan Finn had found the net but referee Tommy O’Sullivan appeared to have blown the whistle before the ball was struck and a penalty was awarded instead. This observer was of the opinion that the advantage rule was there specifically to avoid such incidents but in any case, the goal didn’t stand. And to add insult to injury for the city men, Thomas Douglas’ low shot was superbly saved by Aaron Beresford.

Mikey Costigan converted a 65 but the overwhelming feeling was that De La Salle’s chance, slim though it was, appeared to have passed. DLS boss Bryan Phelan went out to the referee to express his dissatisfaction and was banished to the stand as a result. Michael Kiely then added two fine points, with Thomas Douglas landing an effort in between for De La Salle. Mikey Costigan and Neil Montgomery traded excellent points before Thomas Douglas was unfortunate when his blasted effort crashed back off the post. In the six minutes of injury-time that followed, De La Salle persisted and were rewarded with a goal by Dylan Finn in the sixth of those additional minutes. However, it merely took the blank look off their final score and Abbeyside celebrated accordingly upon hearing Tommy O’Sullivan’s final blast. A new force in Déise hurling may be just about to emerge.

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