Jack Skehan notched three goals in the Mid Tipperary under-21A hurling final and the Holycross-Ballycahill maestro was on the mark once more against Carrick Swans.
Holycross-Ballycahill booked their place in the final of the Tipperary Water County Under-21A Hurling Championship thanks to an impressive seventeen-point win over Carrick Swans at Golden on Saturday afternoon.
Tipperary Water County Under-21A
Hurling Championship Semi-Final
Carrick Swans 1-8
Carrick Swans were certainly genuine in their efforts, but the South champions could not cope with the slick hurling of their Mid Tipperary counterparts. Indeed, Carrick managed just two points from play while Holycross-Ballycahill fired 1-17.
Holycross-Ballycahill led by eleven at the break (0-14 to 0-3) and although Carrick Swans tried to rouse themselves during the third quarter of this contest the dismissal of Jack Cooke for a second bookable offence in the 51st minute dashed their meagre hopes.
Holycross-Ballycahill moved the ball sweetly out of the contact area via the hand pass before delivering careful ball forward. Dara Woods benefitted greatly from such a thoughtful brand of hurling and cracked over four superb points from play. Stephen Flanagan landed four more and worked well alongside Mike Nally in a two-man inside line while the endeavour of Phil Fogarty, Conor Ryan, Bryan O’Mara and Matty Stakelum also caught the eye. Jack Skehan, however, was the most obvious candidate for the man of the match award - at both midfield and wing-forward Skehan was outstanding and looks a prospect of real note from an inter-county point of view.
Holycross-Ballycahill were four clear after ten minutes thanks to points from Dara Woods (three, one free) and Stephen Flanagan. Carrick created a goal-scoring opportunity in the ninth minute, but Jack Ryan cleared Luke O’Dwyer’s batted effort off the line.
A Jack Cooke free got Swans off the mark in the 12th minute before superb points from Bryan O’Mara, Dara Woods, Mike Nally and Stephen Flanagan left seven between them (0-8 to 0-1). Edward O’Gorman and Seán Stakelum combined beautifully to set up Woods’ for an absolute cracker in the 15th minute while some overly-elaborate build-up play denied Holycross-Ballycahill a goal in the 16th.
Swans notched their second point thanks to a Jack Cooke free in the 22nd minute before Bryan O’Mara landed a superb individual effort off his left in the 23rd - O’Mara was fouled three times en route to that strike.
Eric O’Halloran demanded a neat save from Ewan Bourke soon after before Dean Waters fired over the Swans’ first point from play in the 25th minute. Irrespective of that effort Holycross-Ballycahill closed out the half impressively with four successive points - a Stephen Flanagan point and two placed balls from Dara Woods left ten between them before Woods steered over a brilliant left-handed shot to help his side toward an eleven-point interval lead (0-14 to 0-3).
The opening half concluded with Holycross-Ballycahill ‘keeper Ewan Bourke saving neatly from Eric O’Halloran and the Swans added a point (Dean Waters) to their tally during the opening minute of the second.
Jack Skehan responded for Holycross-Ballycahill, but Carrick roused themselves when out-scoring their opponents 0-3 to 0-1 between the 37th and 43rd minutes - all three Swans points came from placed balls and entering the final quarter the Mid champions led 0-15 to 0-7.
With Jack Skehan catching fire at right wing-forward Holycross-Ballycahill took over (again) with points from Skehan, Dara Woods (two frees), Stephen Flanagan and Matty Stakelum leaving thirteen between the sides. Holycross-Ballycahill then plundered the goal that their enterprising attacking play deserved in the 54th minute - Mike Nally and Matty Stakelum combined smartly before the moving the ball out of traffic and into the hand of Jack Skehan who fired home a right-handed beauty.
Carrick, to their credit, refused to give in with Dean Waters converting a placed ball before Gavin O’Halloran belted home a 21-yard free in the 57th minute to bring the scoring to a conclusion from the Swans point of view.
There was still time, however, for Holycross-Ballycahill to add five points which arrived courtesy of Bryan O’Mara (four, three frees) and Seán Stakelum.
Holycross-Ballycahill: Ewan Bourke, David Manning, Jack Ryan, Gavin Dunne, Edward O’Gorman, Phil Fogarty, Conor Ryan, Bryan O’Mara (0-6, 0-3 frees), Jack Skehan (1-2), Seán Stakelum (0-1), Matty Stakelum (0-2), Dara Woods (0-9, 0-5 frees), Jim Ryan, Mike Nally (0-1), Stephen Flanagan (0-4). Subs: (27th) Eoin Morris for Conor Ryan (blood - reversed in the 29th minute), (49th) Jack Dwan for Stephen Flanagan, (54th) Eoin Morris for Dara Woods, (54th) David Croke for Matty Stakelum, (54th) Robbie Hanrahan for Phil Fogarty.
Carrick Swans: Jack Kelly, Aiden Brunnock, Scott Hogan, Billy Murphy, Shane Torpey, Gavin O’Halloran (1-0, 1-0 frees), Warren Fleming, Daniel Walsh, Eric O’Halloran, Jack Cooke (0-5, 0-5 frees), Lee Dunne, Luke O’Dwyer, Ryan Waters, Aaron Dunne, Dean Waters (0-3, 0-1 frees). Subs: (37th) Paudie Walsh for Luke O’Dwyer, (49th) Ian Holloway for Lee Dunne.
Referee: John Cleary (Knockshegowna).