Dunnamaggin (Kilkenny) 1-17 Castleblayney (Monaghan) 1-13

Dunnamaggin fired seven unanswered points to become the eighth Kilkenny club to capture AIB All-Ireland Junior Club Hurling honours in an entertaining decider at Croke Park.

With eight minutes remaining Castleblayney held a two-point lead, with the Monaghan side looking good for delivering a first title in this grade for an Ulster team.

However, Dunnamaggin showed great accuracy in the final quarter stages, after registering 11 wides, they failed to misfire in the closing 10 minutes.

Scores from play and frees for Thomas Maher were central to this win, with the half-forward scoring four of his sides final six points on the way to a famous win.

Dunnamaggin dominated possession in the opening minutes, but just had two points to show for it, with scores from AIB Man of the Match John Fitzpatrick, and an Eoin Kearney pointed free ensuring a 0-2 to 0-0 lead after six minutes.

The ever accurate Fergal Rafter was one of Castleblayney’s star performers over the hour, and left Darren Fitzpatrick in his wake to fire his sides opening point after eight minutes, before equalising from a free a minute later.

A John Fitzpatrick 11th minute goal gave Dunnamaggin the advantage for most of the remainder of the half, but scores from Rafter, Barry McGuigan and Hugh Byrne kept Castleblayney in touch.

Castleblayney finished the half well, and scored 1-3 unanswered between the 24th and 30th minutes, finishing with a McGuigan goal after good work by Byrne and Mark Treanor to push them 1-8 to 1-5 ahead.

A second point of the game from Thomas Maher cut the gap to two points at the break.

Dunnamaggin fired eight first half wides, and promised much on the restart, with Ray Cody coming away from an early scramble for the ball, and pointing 16 seconds into the second half.

A Rafter brace and a Byrne score opened up a 1-11 to 1-7 lead for Castleblayney after 38 minutes, and for the following 10 minutes the sides matched each other well score-for-score.

Rafter’s ninth point pushed his side three points clear, but a big closing 10 minutes arrived from Dunnamaggin, and despite the best efforts of Rafter, and captain Peter Treanor who showed great leadership in the closing stages – Dunnamaggin stood firm.

A 55th Maher point put his side in front for the first time since the 28th minute, and indeed Castleblayney could have been further in arrears at the final whistle, but for two excellent saves from their keeper Paddy Collins late on.

After the game Dunnamaggin captain William Phelan accepted the Cup, with a 10th All-Ireland medal in Croke Park for Noel Hickey, after winning nine All-Ireland’s with Kilkenny.

Scorers for Dunnamaggin: T Maher 0-7 (0-4f, 0-1 65), J Fitzpatrick 1-3, R Cody 0-2, R Coffey 0-2, D Fitzpatrick, D O’Keeffe, E Kearney (f) 0-1 each.

Scorers for Castleblayney: Fergal Rafter 0-9 (0-6fs, 0-165), Brian McGuigan 1-1, Hugh Byrne 0-2, Cormac McNally 0-1.

DUNNAMAGGIN: S O’Neill; M Heffernan, N Hickey, V Costello; M Cody, W Phelan, Andrew Fitzpatrick; D Fitzpatrick, E Kearney; T Maher, J Fitzpatrick, D O’Keeffe; R Coffey, R Cody, Adam Fitzpatrick. Subs: J Brett for Heffernan (37); I Walsh for Fitzpatrick (46).

CASTLEBLAYNEY: P Collins; E Leonard, J McHugh, C Merrick; A Kenny, P Treanor, C McNally; B Flanagan, P Finnegan; H Byrne, M Treanor, B McGuigan; F Rafter, Craig Callan, P Malone. Subs: F Finnegan for Malone (54).

REFEREE: Liam Gordon (Galway)

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