Middletown have reached the All Ireland Intermediate Club Hurling Final after their 3-14 to 2-10 win over Effin
Congratulations and best of luck in the Final!
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AIB HURLING ALL IRELAND INTERMEDIATE CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP SEMI- FINAL
Na FIANNA 3-14 EFFIN [LIMERICK ] 2-10
Middletown qualified for the the All Ireland Intermediate club final in style last sunday in St Brendans Park Birr when a powerful display of quality hurling blew away the favourites and Na Fianna were full value for their seven point win .This was undoubtedly the finest display by a Middletown side for many years and the intensity and speed with which they played the game left the Limerick side reeling and they could not match the skill levels and tempo of the Middletown gameplan .
On a near perfect day for hurling for the time of year Middletown played with a breeze in the first half and they started the game at whirlwind speed. Kieran McKernan ,Paddy McBride and Barney McCann set the example in the middle third and the rest of the team followed suit so much so that the first half was over in a flash but was packed full of great patches of play from both sides who moved the ball at pace . An early shot from Martin Moan drifted wide but Middletown soon opened their account when good work out the field by Kieran McKernan released David Carvill and his pass set up Ryan Gaffney .Ryan was fouled and David Carvill pointed. Paddy McBride was mopping up loose ball at midfield and when he passed to Martin Maguire on the run Martin was pulled down with David Carvill once more pointing the free . Effin were struggling to gain a foothold in the game but did manage a point from influential Thomas Quaid before another foul on the rampaging Martin Maguire this time further out the field was punished by a Kieran McKernan long distance pointed free . Nathan Curry and his defenders were carrying out their instructions to a tee with close tackling and first time deliveries into space and one such from Nathan found Cahal Carvill who bore down on goal and recycled the sliothar for Ryan Gaffney to fire over a point . Middletown were playing hurling at this stage with such intensity and verve that Effin were shell shocked .Barney McCann Brian Mallon Fintan Woods and Kieran McKernan were tackling and harrying their opponents at every opportunity and Pauric Hughes and Paul Gaffney were imperious as ever - clearing their lines with clever reading and positional play . Martin Maguire was tormenting the Effin defence on the right wing and his pass into Ryan Gaffney was offloaded to Cahal Carvill who was tackled high and once more David Carvill slotted over the free .
Middletown pulled further ahead with a well worked goal . Barney McCann found Ryan Gaffney in space and his quick delivery put Cahal Carvill in the clear near to goal and he finished to the net .Effin replied with a point but Kieran McKernan supported well from midfield to receive a pass from Ryan Gaffney and he fired over another point .Midletown were gathering up loose ball around the middle and Effin tried hard to take them out of position to create some chances of their own . This ploy backfired when Middletown`s corner back Fintan Woods was first to react to a long clearance out of the Effin defence and fired over an inspiring score from outside the 65 metre line . Middletown were still on top in most parts of the field but a series of three pointed frees in this section of the game from the Munster champions kept them in contention coming up to the break. Martin Maguire was fouled once more on collecting a puck out and David Carvill pointed the free with ten minutes to go to half time .Paudie Moan showed his value to the team with a stunning point blank save followed by good cover from Fintan Woods as the Effin corner forward bore down on goal and this was to prove crucial to protect the lead and the hard work done in this half . Middletown were interchanging Ryan Gaffney and David Carvill between half and full forwards and keeping up the tempo of the game throughout the field . Martin Maguire got a point from out on the wing - reward for a strong first half performance . Effin were still pushing for a strong finish to the half and it took a spectacular high catch from Paul Gaffney deep in his own goal mouth to prevent a score . Effin had the final point of the half from a free to leave the score at the break
NaFianna 1-9 Effin 0-6
Effin are known as a second half team as their display in the Munster final proved, so Middletown knew that they would have to work hard to defend their lead. Two of the forwards who were worked hard in a tough tackling midfield diamond in the first half were instrumental to a great second half display of clever forward play-Martin Moan and Connor McCann ..David Carvill who was injured in the first half showed the determination written on the faces of the Na Fianna players on the restart when despite shipping a heavy challenge he offloaded a pass to Connor McCann and was on hand to fire over the free after Cahal Carvill was fouled . Effin pointed to cancel out this score and it needed good work by Paudie Moan who saved smartly at his post and determined cover from Paddy McBride to keep them out . Middletown inspired by this went up the field and the accuracy of Kieran McKernan`s passing created the next two scores – two stunning goals that rocked St Brendan`s Park . Kieran fired in a long cross field pass into space for Martin Moan to collect, outstrip his marker and cut in from the wing to smash the sliothar to the net .Moments later Kieran passed inside to Conor McCann who played a clever one-two with Ryan Gaffney to cut open the defence and Conner fired to the net to open up a twelve point lead .
Brian Mallon Nathan Curry and Fintan Woods were providing good cover in defence but Effin worked their way through for a goal as Ned McCann replaced the injured David Carvill. Martin Moan was fouled and Ryan Gaffney took over free taking duties to point the free .Another Effin point narrowed the gap and Paddy McArdle was introduced into the defence .The Effin supporters were on their feet moments later when their side raced through and cracked home another goal . Middletown knew they were going to be asked serious questions with the scoreline at 3-11 to 2-8 and fifteen minutes to go . . Kieran McKernan was fouled fifty yards from his own goal and Nathan Curry`s long range free was placed perfectly for Martin Moan who had ghosted out from the opposite corner to receive , turn and fire over a well worked score . The tackling and pace of the game was unrelenting and Middletown showed the character that was needed to see out the game . Effin added two more scores but could not get past Paudie Moan again as Kieran McKernan Paddy McArdle Paddy McBride and Paul Gaffney stood firm . Shea Gaffney and Ned McCann were giving Middletown new options in attack and Ned`s bravery in plucking a high ball out of the sky and setting up Martin Moan for a point edged Middletown neared to safety .Paul Curry and JJ Hughes refreshed the side when introduced and it was fitting that Middletown finished the game with a piece of sublime skill from College All Star Shea Gaffney who pointed from a narrow angle .
Middletown had produced their best performance of the season so far when it was needed most - coupling skill with discliplined tackling. The quality of the scores and the amount of turnovers acheived was particularly heartening to their supporters . The diligent intensive work done by the management team of Sylvester McConnell Martin Curry Arthur Hughes and Eamonn Long over the long season was borne out on the pitch last sunday and tributes were paid by many at the game as to the quality of the hurling by both sides . Effin were disappointed to lose with an All Ireland final place within reach but knew that on the day Middletown produced the better hurling and were deserved winners. The game was well refereed by Sean Cleere Kilkenny .
Middletown play Mount Leinster Rangers in the ALL Ireland final on Saturday 11 th February and there will be no talk of anything else in the Middletown area for the next few weeks . On behalf of club chaIrman Sean Harnett and the club committee we would like to thank the players and management of our senior hurlers who have brought such great honour and prestige on our club for the record breaking achievement of reaching an All Ireland Final and to get there in such style !. A word of thanks to the many supporters who have followed the team throughout the championship and the large numbers of supporters from within the club from, neighbouring clubs and from around the county who travelled to Birr and gave us the proudest day in our clubs history so far . A special word of thanks to our sponsors -The Commercial Hotel Middletown Lennons Middletown Toal Trucks and Market Stores Keady and the many other businesses and individals who have donated and worked tirelessly to date to make our championship run so successful .The committee and players are very appreciative of everyone`s efforts and we will redouble our efforts to see an All Ireland trophy in the hands of Ryan Gaffney on 11 th February 2012
Na Fianna 3-14 Effin 2-10
P MOAN B MALLON P HUGHES F WOODS 0-1 K McKERNAN -2 N CURRY P GAFFNEY P McBRIDE B McCANN M MAGUIRE 0-1 C McCANN 1-0 David CARVILL 0-4 R GAFFNEY 0-2 C CARVILL 1-0 M MOAN 1-2 subs used N McCANN P McARDLE S GAFFNEY 0-1 JJ HUGHES P CURRY subs L WOODS K HUGHES S McCANN J McKERNAN