Laois U-20 HC Final – Camross v Raheen Parish Gaels
In O’Moore Park at 2.30pm
The last Laois club hurling game of the year is a novel one as Camross, perennial contenders in all grades, take on Raheen Parish Gaels in what is their first ever ‘A’ final appearance.
Indeed it’s the first ever U-20 final as Camross, having won the last ever U-21 grade, will be seeking to become the first winners.
Raheen Parish Gaels are a combination of Clonad, Colt, Trumera and Shanahoe – as two Senior ‘A’ clubs come together with two intermediates sides – to field a fine U-20 outfit.
They have quality players on every line of the field with the likes of James Keyes at centre-forward and PJ Daly on the wing among their star men.
But Fionn Holland, Paudie McDonald, Dylan Cuddy, Eoghan Brennan, Paddy Hosey and Conor Madden are all fine players too and Madden, having transferred from Rathdowney-Errill to Trumera this year, will be looking to add to the U-21 medal he picked up with his native club two years ago.
Camross, though, have a fine side too – from Cillian Tiernan in goals, Daniel Breen at full-back, Eoin Dowling and Liam Delaney on the half-back line, Laois senior and free-taker Eoin Gaughan and Oisin Bennett, Niall Bennett and Rob Tyrell up front.
Camross came through a tough semi-final against last year’s U-19 champions The Harps in the semi-final and it was a tighter game than the 2-19 to 0-14 final scoreline would suggest – with Tyrell and Niall Bennett striking for goals in the last ten minutes.
That was their toughest game to date as they were 7-18 to 1-11 winners over Clonaslee and 7-22 to 1-5 winners over Borris-Kilcotton in the group stages.
Raheen Parish Gaels form has been impressive too. They beat last year’s minor champions Clough-Ballacolla/Mountrath by 3-22 to 1-14 and were 2-22 to 1-13 winners over Castletown in what was essentially a quarter-final game.
They had six points to spare – 2-19 to 1-16 – over Abbeyleix in last Sunday’s semi-final and while it was tight enough in the second half at one stage, they were seven points up at the break despite having a disastrous start and being four points down after just a minute.
The sides met in the old minor (U-18) semi-final two years ago when Camross had just three points to spare. Camross later went on to beat Castletown-Slieve Bloom in the final to add to the titles they had won with that group of players at U-12, U-14 and U-16.
A win in the U-20 grade would be a fine way of wrapping up their underage days together and while Raheen Parish Gaels (many of whom are unlikely to line out with each other again after today’s game) should put up a decent battle, Camross have the greater collective experience to call.
Camross should have enough to win it.