Mayfield’s day of days

AIB All-Ireland Club JHC final

Mayfield’s day of days

They faced another daunting obstacle at Croke Park in the form of a cultured and driven Kilkenny outfit, but faced them down in the manner that has seen them overcome virtually every obstacle placed in their way in recent times.

Boundless courage, unflappable pride and an unbreakable spirit drove them to their finest hour and an achievement which will inspire an emerging generation back in their north-east suburb of Cork city.

All-Ireland JFC champions, magnificent Mayfield earned that title as a reward for their fearless application and unapologetic self-belief, bound by a collective nerve of steel.

Nicky Kelly led the way with 11 glorious scores, but all around him stood heroes on Jones’ Road.

A classic final went right to the wire, required a stoppage time winner, and Kelly was the man to deliver the killer blow with a glorious finish right at the death.

Mayfield’s Richard O’Keeffe, left, and Patrick Duggan celebrate after the AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Junior Club Championship final match between Mayfield and Mooncoin at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Mayfield’s Richard O’Keeffe, left, and Patrick Duggan celebrate after the AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Junior Club Championship final match between Mayfield and Mooncoin at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Manager Seamus Lawton glowed with pride on an emotional afternoon in the shadow of the Hogan Stand.

“It was a fantastic game. We got ahead in the first half, but it took a lot out of us I thought,” he reflected.

“Mooncoin came back at us second half and took it back to a draw, but with a little bit of luck, then, we got over the line.”

Mooncoin’s purposeful start to the second half, when they faced a deficit of six points, thanks to goals from Patrick Duggan and David Malone, had Lawton deeply concerned.

He feared they would take over in typical Kilkenny fashion.

“It looked that way. They had a fantastic half back line, as we knew, and we were carrying a few injuries into the game, and those lads got tired. But a few fresh legs came in and I think that’s what got us there.”

The clamour will only grow now for Nicky Kelly’s call-up to the county squad, such has been his consistent brilliance this season.

“He deserves a try,” said Lawton.

“And I’m sure he would acquit himself very well if he went there. He’s an absolute gent, and a fantastic attitude, very professional about his game, and a great leader.

“He’s sheer class. We love him to bits, and we have him, so anybody else who wants him they can have him too.”

The Mayfield boss had nothing but admiration for the commitment and dedication of his players, who have spent a year preparing themselves for their day of days.

“For the last 12 month, it has just been relentless. There has been no let-up, this is a great group and great spirit.

“They’re very close as a group, and it counts when it comes to the end of games like this.”

The mercurial Kelly saved his finest hour for the most important occasion of his career to date.

He was a class apart as he laid on a scoring master-class, hitting 11 points, including a glorious stoppage-time winner.

All three goals came in a remarkable four minute spell early in the second quarter.

Patrick Duggan and David Malone netted for the Cork men, either side of a John Fitzgerald strike, and there was little to separate the sides at that stage.

But Mayfield hit the last five points of the half to lead by 2-9 to 1-6 at thebreak.

The Leinster men came out for the second period with intent, pulling back points through Kevin Crowley, Ray Wall and Eamonn Hennebry.

Mayfield, with Kelly in electrifying form, kept their noses in front, but their opponents got level twice, through Crowley and substitute Patrick Walsh, who tied it up with two minutes to play.

But Kelly rose to the occasion in magnificent fashion, firing over a brilliant winner deep into stoppage time to seal a first All-Ireland title for his club.

Scorers for Mayfield: D Malone (1-2), P Duggan (1-0), N Kelly (0-11,6 frees), S Duggan, D O’Neill, K Punch (0-1 each).

Scorers for Mooncoin: J Fitzgerald (1-1), K Crowley (0-8, 5 frees, 1 ’65), E Hennebry (0-3), A Walsh, R Wall (0-2 each), M Grace, P Walsh (0-1 each).

MAYFIELD: R O’Keefe; K Brosnan, D Lucey, B O’Leary; G Lehane, S O’Donovan, G Looney; K Punch, D Hayes; D O’Neill, N Kelly, D Malone; S Duggan, S Kelly, P Duggan.

Subs: I Looney for S Duggan (52), C O’Sullivan for Punch (56), K Walsh for S Kelly (56).

MOONCOIN: E Purcell; C Brophy, N Mackey, L Henebry; C Daly, E Henebry, S Kearns; C Fleming, K Crowley; S Walsh, A Walsh, R Wall; M Grace, E Henebry, J Fitzgerald.

Subs: E Ryan for Fleming (h-t), K Kirwan for S Walsh, P Henebry for Grace (48), P Walsh for Wall (50).

Referee: C Cunning (Antrim).

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