Tullamore hosted a Division 3 final between Derry and Galway Tribesmen for the William Robinson Cup.
The Tribesmen just pipped Limerick Treaty by 0-16 to 0-14 in the semi-finals a week ago, and in their way of winning the Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge at Born na Mona O’Connor Park were Derry.
Derry took an early 3-2 lead, including a point from a very impressive Eoghan Cassidy, but Derry scored three unanswered points, spearheaded by Feidhlim O’Reilly of Ballinasloe to lead 5-3 after the opening ten minutes.
17 minutes in, Derry almost scored a goal on the counter-attack, but Galway’s immediate response was to go over at the other end to extend their lead to three once again. Some ambitious long range attempts from Galway were missed, and at 8-6 up, a great save at point-blank range from Derry keeper Leo Passmore kept them from scoring a goal.
Their emphasis on long balls into box, coupled with a resolute Derry defence, kept the scoreline close. Cassidy’s fifth score on the stroke of half time, followed by his sixth from the halfway line, saw the game level at the break despite Galway’s better play.
Derry made use of the strong prevailing breeze after the restart, with Darragh McGilligan scoring two, and McMullen getting fantastic point from the right wing.
36 minutes in, Padraig O’Kane struck into goal off the ground after a long ball sent the Galway box into a scramble, for a sudden 1-11 to 0-8 lead. Cassidy was even putting in a solid defensive shift, keeping the Tribesmen from conjuring a much needed response. The Derryman added two further scores for an eight point gap with 20 minutes left.
At 1-14 to 0-10 in the 46th minute, the Tribesmen earned a penalty, but Derry’s keeper made another save, this time from Karl Healy, though the ball was sent straight at him at height.
Healy made amends in the 53rd however, with a lovely goal from the left, cutting the gap to six points. It was a case of deja-vu in the 60th minute amid an attacking barrage from Galway. Another goal from the left with a savage finish made it a one point game at 1-16 to 2-12.
Jamie Murray seemed to hav put the tie to bed in the 62nd however, with a tremendous run from the left. He lifted the ball over two defenders before smashing the sliotar into the goal at the near post.
A further Derry point was welcome for the Ulstermen, as Galway sensationally scored a third goal right at the death for a two-point game, though ‘man of the match’ candidate Eoghan Cassidy scored a final point to make it 2-18 to 3-12 at the final whistle.
The Tribesmen will rue their lack of clinical finishes in the first half, but there’s no denying Derry their day after a sterling overall performance from much of the team.
2018 is the third year of the successful Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge. The five divisional finals will take place on Saturday, June 30th at Bord na Móna O’Connor Park, Tullamore. The cups have been dedicated to the memory of Michael Hogan (24), John William Scott (14), William Robinson (11), Jerome O’Leary (10) and Michael Feery (40) – five of the victims from the fourteen people shot and killed on Bloody Sunday at Croke Park on November 21st, 1920.
The Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge represents a new departure in Hurling with the inclusion of teams from all 32 Counties as well as unique respect initiatives including a ‘Pre-Match Talk’ by the referee and the ‘Best and Fairest Award’ that will see referees after every match choose one player from each team selected on the basis of their skill level as well as the respect they showed to the playing rules, match officials and their fellow players.