All Britain Shield Final
Wolfe Tones (Liverpool) 0-17 v St Declans (Watford) 0-08
A great all round team display saw Liverpool Wolfe Tones capture the inaugural All Britain junior hurling shield at Pairc na hEireann at the weekend.
But it was the accuracy of David Coughlan from placed balls which largely ensured their teamwork was rewarded on the score board.
The speed of body and mind from the winner’s entire attack force who stuck to their task and played what was a very evident game plan to use the full width of the Birmingham pitch then used their wide players speed to gain the possession which forced the Watford lads to concede the fouls and Coughlan was merciless.
St Declans actually started the brighter and looked more composed in the early stages as the Liverpool lads took time to adapt to the heavy conditions.
Brendan O Leary got Declans off to the perfect start when he pointed from a near impossible angle from the right corner before Coughlan and Liam Reale exchanged frees in the first five minutes.
Daithai Murphy had Tones level again before two long range strikes from Peter Behan and Reale opened a two point lead for the Watford side.
Suddenly approaching the quarter way stage Tones caught fire, captain Finn O Callaghan won possession and drove an 80 meter pass into corner forward Kelvin McGee who fielded superbly and turned to fire over. Coughlan quickly added a free from inside his own half and the whole team was transformed.
Tones defence put the shackles on their opponents and reaped the dividends of a steady supply of fast direct ball into the wide areas of the forward unit to create chances for the always moving full forwards and from there they added six points without conceding as they dominated all areas.
McGee, Murphy and McAuley accounted for three of those scores while Coughlan continued to punish the indiscretions of the Declans backs as they wilted to wave after wave of high speed Tones attack out wide to send the lads from Liverpool in at half time with a commanding lead.
The early stages of the second half gave clear indications that Richie Barry and his charges had learned a lesson from their semi final two weeks previous. From the beginning this time they exerted pressure all over the field, and recycled the ball with speed and accuracy and within three minutes through McGee and Coughlan had stretched their lead to eight points.
When St Declans did rouse themselves they found an air tight defence in front of them and were constantly forced to shoot from long range or under immense pressure and with man of the match Stephen Grace at centre back imperious all day inspiring his defensive colleagues to keep the door firmly shut there never really was to be a way back for the Watford men.
Going into the final quarter of the game St Declans Brendan Kelly received a straight red for a late pull on Tones keeper Stephen Hennessy after a great save and with that went any chance of a late come back.
As is often the case the conditions took their toll on the game and scores were soon of a premium just two points each were recorded over the final 15 minutes by which time the Liverpool outfit had the game pretty much sowed up.
Liam Reale did pull a couple of points back near the end but it was perhaps fitting that David Coughlan had the last word as he launched yet another long range free between the posts to signal the end and more than some delight for his team and supporters.
St Declans will probably feel they are better than they showed on Saturday and they have very credible hurlers who will improve for this experience but they went down to a well drilled, well led and hungry team that on top of their form would be more than capable of competing at a higher level.
Wolfe Tones: Stephen Hennessy, Dwaine Kelly, Paddy Breen, Micheal Gallagher, Micheal Dobbs, Stephen Grace, Finnian O Callaghan, Adam O Hare, Damien Barry, Paul Carey, David Coughlan (0-09 8F) Brendan McAuley (0-01) Daithi Murphy (0-03) Kyle Doyle (0-01) Kelvin McGee (0-03) Subs Niall Mulligan for Murphy, Darragh Kavanagh for Carey, Gary Coughlan for O Hare, Tony O Leary for Gallagher