Bray Emmets 2-16
The long ball from out the field found the welcoming hand of Christy Moorehouse at the Rednagh Hill end of the County Grounds. With ball in hand there are few better. A lightning turn and the Bray legend is away with Cian Staunton to beat in the Glenealy goal. He swings, strikes and the ball sizzles to the back of the net, and the roar from the bank goes up. He turns to the faithful and punches the air. A decisive moment in the almost 130 minutes of cracking hurling county final action between two quality sides.
But before Moorehouse even gathered that sweet ball with 18 gone in the second half, the destination of the O’Donoghue Cup may well have been decided by the changes made to his selection by manager Paul Carley ahead of referee Max Molloy throwing the ball in on Saturday afternoon.
The introduction of Arran Murphy and his job of man-marking the sublime Danny Staunton were huge factors, while the pushing forward of the towering Padraig Doyle from his role of sweeper the first day gave the defending champions much more purpose in attack.
Throw in a significantly increased intensity around the middle third, a real steadiness in the back three of Ben Kearney, Karl Lacey and Seanie Maloney, an important save in the second half by Peter O’Reilly and 1-10 from play from the inside pair of Moorehouse and Mikey Boland and the O’Donoghue Cup was heading back for the banks of the Dargle for the fourth time in a row.
Glenealy opted to play against the wind in the opening half hoping no doubt to be level or better at the break before heading for home with the goal threat of Alan Driver, Jonathan O’Neill and Gavin Weir. However, with Marc Lennon radically diminishing the time and opportunities for booming clearances from Gary Byrne, the route from deep was strangled in comparison with the previous week’s encounter.
Mikey Boland announced himself in the second minute with a fine effort after good work from Lennon and Padraig Doyle.
Bray were looking far more threatening early doors but had two of their six first-half wides before Mikey Boland fired a deadly pass across the face of the Glenealy goal to the hand of Eoin McCormack who stepped inside and buried it past Cian Staunton with less than five on the clock. A dream start.
The stop-start nature of the first day was largely non-existent in the replay aside from some injuries to players and referee Max Molloy enjoyed a good day on the whistle in difficult weather conditions early on.
A foul on Alan Driver gave Gavin Weir a chance from a free but the sharpshooter either went for a shock goal or suffered a bad connection because the ball went straight at John Henderson who won a free out.
Glenealy were starting to put together some moves but were finding Ben Kearney, Karl Lacey and Seanie Maloney alert and lively inside.
A rare Moorehouse wide from a free was followed by an uplifting point from John Henderson after Eoin McCormack gathered a Glenealy restart, fed Moorehouse who slipped to Henderson, and he bombed over a beauty to make it 1-2 to 0-0 after 12.
Bray were enjoying some success on the Glenealy puckout and a foul on the fearless Luke Maloney allowed Christy to wallop over with 14 gone.
What looked to be a massive score in the context of the game given that Glenealy would have the wind in the second half arrived after 15 minutes when a trademark Matthew Traynor missile hit the floor in the Bray square where Jonathan O’Neill lashed home to make it 1-3 to 1-0.
This was a dangerous time for Bray. John Henderson disrupted a threatening move that had found Alan Driver before they swept up the field with McCormack, Boland and Marc Lennon involved in getting the ball to Moorehouse who skipped past Traynor before firing over.
Hard work from Ben McCormack put Glenealy in bother from a short puck-out with Marc Lennon eventually pulling on a loose ball from a ruck that went to Mikey Boland who skipped along the endline before firing wide, however referee Max Molloy had spotted a chop by Warren Kavanagh and it was back for a free which Moorehouse converted.
Glenealy were having real trouble getting beyond the Bray half-back line with John Henderson thwarting two moves, but a long Traynor free resulted in a foul by the Bray inside line and Gavin Weir grabbed their opening point of the game after 23 minutes.
A bomb for both sides followed, Bray’s from Moorehouse on his own 65, Glenealy’s from Gavin Weir on the sideline, bank side and into the wind, while another loose Glenealy ball was cut out by Seanie Maloney and the ball was worked to Moorehouse and another white flag was waving, 1-7 to 1-2, 28 gone.
A superb catch by Gavin Weir afforded him the chance to fire over but the last word of the half would go to Moorehouse who split the sticks with a free to leave it 1-8 to 1-3.
Would a five-point lead be enough for Paul Carley’s side or would an early Glenealy goal put the cat well and truly among the pigeons and drive Michael Anthony O’Neill’s men on to a four-in-a-row-stopping victory.
But it was Bray who started on the front foot, Boland going wide after a huge catch from Padraig Doyle before Moorehouse swung over after good work from Arran Murphy and Mikey Boland.
Danny Staunton would hit back for Glenealy when he gathered and drove over, but Mikey Boland was on song moments later when he gathered a long ball from Seanie Maloney.
A Weir free left five between the sides but Bray Emmets were looking energetic and on their toes, led in no small way by Padraig Doyle who gathered a Peter O’Reilly restart before bombing over, followed moments later by another Moorehouse score.
Davy Maloney entered the fray in place of Ben McCormack and Glenealy were in bother at 1-12 to 1-5. They needed a goal, and badly.
Some of the fielding from the Bray players, namely John Henderson, Padraig Doyle and Eoin McCormack, was superb in this game with Henderson plucking a beauty from a long Robert Byrne ball and starting a move that ended with Christy Moorehouse taking a clever 65 short to Cian Lohan who returned to Moorehouse and the Bray faithful on the bank were roaring their delight.
Everything that could have gone wrong for Glenealy was going wrong. They fired six wides in the second half when they badly needed to stop or at least delay the Bray Emmets march and they also coughed up a half goal chance after 16 while Peter O’Reilly saved smartly from a Matthew Traynor rocket after 25 before the result was completely out of their reach.
But the real turning point was the Moorehouse goal with 18 gone in the second half. That unstoppable sizzling missile bulged the net at the Rednagh Hill end and broke the hearts of the Glenealy men who had brought so much to both games.
They never relented in their hunt, adding points from Weir (free) and Staunton before Weir bagged a late goal from a free but in between Bray had outstanding points from McCormack, Diarmuid Masterson and Christy Moorehouse, and although Bray went down to 13 after red cards for Seanie Maloney and John Henderson (second yellow) late on, there was no way Bray’s roar for four was being silenced.
The big questions after the first final were who would have learned more and who would react best? The answer to those questions was emphatically Bray Emmets.
Their reign continues. The drive for five is next.
Bray Emmets: Peter O’Reilly; Ben Kearney, Karl Lacey, Sean Maloney; Cian Lohan, Padraig Doyle (0-1), John Henderson (0-1); Diarmuid Masterson (0-1), Luke Maloney; Marc Lennon, Arran Murphy, Eoin McCormack (1-1); Ben McCormack, Christy Moorehouse (1-10, 4f), Mikey Boland (0-2). Subs: Davy Maloney for B McCormack (37), Ronan McMahon for C Lohan (49), Cathal O Dulacháin for M Boland (57), James Anders for L Maloney (57)
Glenealy: Cian Staunton; Joey Driver, Warren Kavanagh, Paul O’Brien; Matthew Traynor, Gary Byrne, Sam O’Dowd; Robert Byrne, Ronan Manley; Gavin Weir (1-5, 1-0f, 4f), Danny Staunton (0-3), Tommy Doyle; Jonathan O’Neill (1-0), Alan Driver, Jamie Byrne. Subs: Jack Kavanagh for P O’Brien (51), Daire Henderson for A Murphy (52), John Manley for J Byrne (56), Alan Conyard for A Driver (57)
Referee: Max Molloy (Annacurra).