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U16 Hurling League – Thursday 23rd May 2024

U16 Hurling League – Thursday 23rd May 2024

Posted May 24, 2024

Naomh Mearnóg 3-20
St Finians Swords 0-13

Naomh Mearnóg captured the U16 hurling league title after a thrilling victory against St Finians Swords in River Valley on Thursday evening. There were joyous scenes at the final whistle as the boys celebrated their first major piece of hurling silverware since leaving the nursery in 2015. Great credit goes to the manager, Karl Hogan, and the coaching staff of Stephen Rafter and Barry Mulligan for all the work they have done throughout the year – its evenings like this that make it all worthwhile.
As has been the story all year, Mearnóg got off to another flyer in the first half. Shane Rafter opened the scoring with a point off his left before wing forward Noah Smart levelled the game for St Finians. Then Finn O’Donnell, who had a powerful game throughout, stamped his authority on the match scoring an excellent 0-9 in the first quarter of the game including three 65s and 2 frees, one of which was swatted over from 100m. In fairness to St Finians, they battled away and Daniel Dodrill kept them in touch scoring (0-4, 2f) to leave the score Mearnóg 0-10 to St Finians 0-5 after 20 minutes.
Jack Clarke, who was proving an able target man at full forward, scored his first point of the game on 22 minutes with a sublime volley before Daniel Burns stretched the lead with a point after 24 minutes.
Then the first goal of the game. Jack Clarke crossed a high ball into the full forward line where Shane Rafter did well to break it down and Finn O’Donnell was on hand to scoop the ball over the line. Two further points from O’Donnell left the half time score Mearnóg 1-14 to St Finians 0-6.

While O’Donnell was doing most of the scoring for Mearnóg, the defence and midfielders were the foundation and there were some fine individual displays all round, none more so than Jack Dowley at centre half back. Dowley, who spent the winter playing rugby at Belvedere, has been promising a big display over the last few weeks and delivered in fine style in the first half.
St Finians made a bright start to the second half scoring 0-3 in 5 minutes to get a foothold in the game. Liam Hogan scored an important point for Mearnóg but it failed to stem the tide. Another four points, all from the hurl of Daniel Dodrill, brought St Finians right back into the match and with 49 minutes gone, Mearnóg’s lead had been cut to 4 points. St Finians were winning all the main battles around the middle and there were concerned looks on the Mearnóg sideline.
‘Cometh the hour, cometh the man’ and when the game was in the melting pot O’Donnell delivered the all-important goal. Theo Dunne, who had a strong second half, delivered a high ball into the full forward line that was won under pressure by O’Donnell. He turned for goal, fought off two defenders and planted the ball in the net. This crucial score opened the flood gates, Shane O’Brien quickly followed with a nice point before O’Donnell struck once more with his third goal on 55 minutes. Theo Dunne was central to the score again, delivering the ball from midfield, and O’Donnell fought off the St Finian’s defence to crack another to the net.
This 6-minute spell put an end to the game as a contest and Mearnóg coasted home in great style. Daragh Fahy, who worked hard throughout the game, scored two fine points and Theo Dunne got fitting reward for his hour’s work with a well-deserved point.
It was another ‘man of the match’ performance from captain Finn O’Donnell and it was fitting that his father, Mark, was on hand to present the league cup after the game.

Mearnóg scorers: Finn O’Donnell (3-12, 2f, 3×65), Daragh Fahy (0-2), Liam Hogan (0-1), Shane Rafter (0-1), Jack Clarke (0-1), Daniel Burns (0-1), Shane O’Brien (0-1), Theo Dunne (0-1).
St Finians scorers: Daniel Dodrill (0-11, 8f), Noah Smart (0-2).
Mearnóg panel: Cillian Slevin, Ethan Fitzgibbon, Sam Reid, Ronan O’Brien, Patrick Corcoran, Jack Dowley, Louis Burel, Daniel Burns, Theo Dunne, Thuan Ball, Finn O’Donnell, Daragh Fahy, Shane Rafter, Jack Clarke, Liam Hogan, Cillian Brennan, Senan Milan, Oisin Nugent, Shane O’Brien, Sean Walsh.

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