In the end, dogged persistence saw them deliver the knockout punch to Castlelyons in the first minute of injury time. Incredibly, the winning point from interval substitute Ciarán O’Mahony was the only time they led.
So, joy after so many disappointments (including the 2011 final) — but the result left Castlelyons reeling with disbelief. In a low-scoring game that was no classic and had 22 wides, a huge crowd witnessed so many twists and turns. Only seven minutes remained as the green and gold went three points clear but Youghal — who had registered only a trio of points from play up to then — rattled over four more without reply.
Youghal came to this decider as slight favourites and the tag didn’t rest so easily with them. They had to make a late adjustment to their lineout as regular defender Micheál Cronin was handed a suspension during the week so skipper Bill Cooper switched to wing back with Brett Moloney promoted to the starting 15.
It was all Castlelyons from the off. The impressive Colm Spillane was on form with placed balls to give his team a 0-4 to 0-1 lead after a quarter of an hour. Leigh Desmond knocked over his second free for Youghal and not until the 28th minute did we see the first score from play – Youghal midfielder Nigel Roche notching a point from distance.
Castlelyons were motoring better though and an Aidan O’Sullivan point put two between them. The seaside town then saw an opportunity for goal go amiss when James O’Mahony might have been better off going for a ground strike instead of trying to pick the sliothar. Thankful to superb play from John Grace at full back, Youghal’s Desmond had the last say of the half but Castlelyons still led by a point (0-5 to 0-4).
Youghal regrouped at half-time. Ollie Dempsey moved to wing back after Cooper had earlier switched to midfield and into the fray came Ciarán O’Mahony. Again though, it was Castlelyons who were more productive with a pair of Colm Spillane white flags.
Desmond then missed two chances from placed balls as Ciarán O’Mahony narrowed the gap from the left corner. The same player was denied a goal shot mainly due to ferocious Castlelyons defending, especially their captain Ciarán McGann and Leo Sexton. Conor Spillane (65m) and Brendan Ring chiselled out another valuable brace of points for Youghal but Colm Spillane and Philip Mahon put Castlelyons within touching distance or senior status in the final 10 minutes, 0-10 to 0-7. Youghal, who had been battling all night to stay in touch, suddenly found their rhythm. Cooper and Brendan Ring rallied the troops with inspirational points before sub Andrew Curtin landed the equaliser in the 58th minute. It was now a case of all shoulders to the wheel. Goalkeeper Richard Cunningham and Dempsey launched a couple of attacks but it was one from Cooper that found O’Mahony for the decisive score to clinch the 2013 PIHC county title.
Scorers for Youghal: L Desmond (0-3, frees), C O’Mahony and Brendan Ring (0-2 each), C Spillane (65), B Cooper, A Curtin and N Roche (0-1 each).
Scorers for Castlelyons: C Spillane (0-7, six frees), T McCarthy, A O’Sullivan and P Mahon (0-1 each).
YOUGHAL: R Cunningham; B O’Sullivan, J Grace, K Walsh; B Cooper (Capt), C Spillane, Barry Ring; N Roche, D Ring; J O’Mahony, A Frahill-O’Connor, O Dempsey; Brendan Ring, B Moloney, L Desmond.
Subs: C O’Mahony for D Ring (half-time), A Curtin for L Desmond (50).
CASTLELYONS: S O’Sullivan; B Carroll, B O’Connell, T Carroll; C O’Leary, L Sexton, C McGann (Capt); C Barry, P Mahon; C Spillane, B Fitzgerald, A O’Sullivan; A Fenton, T McCarthy, A Spillane.
Subs: R Bransfield for A Fenton (49), R O’Regan for T McCarthy (52).
Referee: Joe Larkin (Douglas).