Eoghan Rua add six unanswered points for a sensational 0-10 to 0-4 victory to reach the All-Ireland junior hurling final.
While defences dominated throughout this low scoring affair it was the accuracy of the Eoghan Rua forwards in the second half that pushed the Coleraine men over the line and into the Croke Park final on Sunday 7th February.
Both sides dropped players back to act as sweepers with Eoghan Rua’s Sean Leo McGoldrick very effective particularly in the second half where he won an ocean of breaking ball. He was well supported by the entire defence that worked so hard to harras and harry the Sylane forwards into errors forcing a litany of turnovers. There were any number of brave blocks, huge tackles, dirty ball won across the field the sort of effort and sheer hard graft needed to win games in the tough, heavy conditions at this time of year. However scores win games and with Ciaran Gaile again in top scoring form, he finished with six points, three super strikes from open play, that proved the difference.
After Sylane took an early lead from a Stephen Burke free in the fifth minute, they had shot three wides by that stage, Eoghan Rua hit back with Sean Leo McGoldrick and Ciaran Gaile points to lead by the 11th minute. The sides then traded points from frees, Glynn for Sylane to level and Ciaran Gaile to put the Coleraine side back in front by the end of the first quarter.
Despite finding it very hard to break down a hard working Eoghan Rua defence Sylane then had a decent spell to hit two in a row to retake the lead, 0-4 to 0-3. Incredibly that second point, from a free in the 22nd minute, proved to be Sylane’s last score of the game.
Eoghan Rua levelled in the 25th minute with a huge point from a Ciaran Gaile free to go in 0-4 each at the break. The Eoghan Rua defence was magnificent in the second half, the half back line of Barry McGoldrick, Niall Holly and Anton Rafferty rock solid.
Sylane did have an early chance for the lead point but Glynn inexplicably shot wide from a 30m free straight in front of the goals. That miss seem to rock the Galwaymen and buoyed by the let-off Eoghan Rua struck three points in a brilliant two minute spell Ciaran Gaile (2) and Ruari Leonard the scorers just six minutes into the half. Colm McGoldrick escaped the shackles of a double team marking system to fire over a great point from near the sideline while moments later Ciaran Gaile threw an outrageous dummy giving him the space to drill over his side’s ninth point four minutes from time. Going into the last minute of normal time youngster Tomas Magee raced through for a super point to copper fasten victory.
It had been a superb second half by the Eoghan Rua men, gradually getting on top, squeezing the Connacht men all across the pitch, forcing errors and turnovers none more so than Declan Mullan whose strength in the tackle was immense.
So now the Eoghan Rua men look forward to a Croke Park date with Kilkenny kingpins Glenmore on Sunday 7th February following in the footsteps of their footballers and camogs who also made it through to an All-Ireland final.