North Final – Kilruane N.S. 4-3 Dunkerrin N.S. 3-212 Jun 2009 by Gilbert Williams
Kilruane N.S. captured the North schools hurling title for the fourth time when they overcame Dunkerrin N.S. after a great struggle in Toomevara. This was Kilruane’s ninth appearance in the decider with wins in 1990, 1999, and 2001. They also won the county final in 2001 and the county sevens crown in 2005. In addition four North football titles have been annexed. Kilruane had suffered a narrow defeat in the 2008 final against Scoil Eoin from Roscrea and were keen to go one better this year. In the earlier rounds they has comfortable victories against Toomevara N.S. and Corville N.S.. Dunkerrin had pipped Ardcroney in the replayed semi-final. Kilruane received a severe setback when Darragh Peters was ruled out of the game with a broken bone in his hand, an injury he received in MacDonaghs victory against Nenagh in the first round of the u-12 championship.
Kilruane were forced to reshuffle their team in Darragh’s absence. James Cleary moved back to the half-back line and Kieran Lillis went to midfield. Declan Elderfield came in on the half forward line for his first start of the campaign. Kilruane began impressively with Kieran Lillis dominating at midfield and Maria Hogan effecting some great clearances. That dominance was soon reflected on the scoreboard when Craig Hilmi raced in from the left wing to rifle the ball to the corner of the net. The Kilruane defence was outstanding and Dunkerrin’s attack got little leeway and when it was breached they found that goalkeeper Conor Lillis was in brilliant form. Craig Morgan was causing all kinds of problems for the Dunkerrin defence and it came as no surprise when he raised a second green flag for the boys and girls in black and white. Dunkerrin finally opened their account when the pointed a free. Defences were on top for the remainder of the half and the interval saw the score 2-0 to 0-1 in favour of Kilruane.
On the resumption Kilruane continued to shade the exchanges. Goals from Kieran Lillis and Alanna Morris helped them open up an eight point lead. Dunkerrin began to pile on the pressure and two goals left just two points between the sides. It was then that Kilruane showed their true mettle. The magnificent James Cleary surged down field, was fouled and slotted the resultant free over the bar. Craig Hilmi then swung over a delightful point from the left wing for the insurance score. The Kilruane defence held firm in the closing moments and the disappointment of last year’s defeat was replaced by the elation of victory.
This was a victory against the odds built on heart and determination and no little skill. Conor Lillis was superb in goals. He displayed great reflexes and is one of the most skillful hurlers in the parish. Captain Caoilainn Conroy led by example and defended resolutely. Even though faced by a formidable opponent he yielded not an inch. His brother Arran has a tremendous game and cleared an amount of ball. James Cleary displayed all his silken skills on the half back line with a performance that won the genuine admiration of the Dunkerrin Principal Peter Jennings. Has James ever had a better game in the famous black and white jersey? I doubt it. Maria Hogan is one of the most improved players in the school and she was on top of her game right from the off. Kieran Lillis was magnificent in the middle of the field and supplied the forwards with quality ball. His partner Jake Morris worked like a beaver and was always in the thick of the action.
Declan Elderfield made an impressive debut and used his strength to great effect. The speedy Craig Hilmi was a constant threat. Alanna Morris had a great battle with the Dunkerrin full back and took her goal well. Craig Morgan has struck a rich vein of form this season and he turned in another impressive performance.
After the game Len Gaynor presented Caolainn Conroy with the trophy. Kilruane now play either Moycarkey or St. Mary’s in the county final which will be played in Semple Stadium.
Team: Conor Lillis, Caoilainn Conroy, Arran Conroy, Maria Hogan, James Cleary (0-1), Jake Morris, Kieran Lillis (1-0), Craig Hilmi (1-1), Declan Elderfield, Alanna Morris (1-0) and Craig Morgan (1-0).
Referee: Christy McLoughlin Nenagh Eire Og