A magnificent team performance ensured Araglen were crowned Co-op Superstores county Junior B hurling champions as they overcame Freemount in a thrilling final at Pairc Ui Rinn on Sunday afternoon.
In a game that went right down to the wire Araglen withstood a late Freemount rally to deservedly hold out for this stunning win their first championship success since 1999.
Playing with the aid of the strong wind Freemount only took two minutes to open their scoring with Padraig Collins finding space to put the ball between the sticks in the second minute.
Araglen to be fair weren’t fazed and levelled proceedings a minute later following a free courtesy from the stick of Owen Hickey.
Araglen had plenty of possession but they lacked ideas to break down the Freemount defence but Jack Kearney did find the space and accuracy to reduce the deficit to the minimum 0-3 to 0-2.
The pace of the game was fast and furious with both teams playing quality hurling and in the 14th minute we witnessed a goal of sheer class.
Paul Hynes gathered a low ball before finishing with ferocity to the corner of the net.
Freemount looked polished going forward and players like Michael O’Callaghan and Padraig Collins were punishing Araglen when getting their opportunities.
Another spell of poor defending saw Araglen exploit their opponents as James Kearney was on hand to billow the back of the net with six minutes remaining to the interval.
A brace of Oisin Hickey points and suddenly Ariglen had surged into a four-point lead 2-6 to 0-8.
Freemount ended their 11-minute drought when Denis Curtin drilled over a fabulous point and two more white flags saw them reduce the deficit to the minimum at the break.
Araglen a village that borders Tipperary and Waterford last competed in this championship final back in 1999 when defeating St Oliver Plunkett's.
The last time Freemount competed in a county final was back in 1998 when they lost to Bride Rovers in the Junior A championship final.
On the restart both teams looked up battle, but it was Freemount who were quickest into their stride with consecutive points from Padraig Collins and Padraig Curtin.
To be Araglen refused to drop their heads and a brace of Hickey points from frees edged them ahead again.
The one difference between the teams was the Araglen hustling and harrying than was crucial in them winning the majority of dirty ball.
Just before the second water-break the intensity dropped from both teams and it was still all to play for with Araglen still commanding a one-point lead.
Freemount were straight into the action and substitute Dean Collins brought the teams level for the sixth time.
Both sides amazingly found another gear and Paul Hynes should have done better as the Araglen forward shot straight at the Freemount keeper with a goal at his mercy.
The Araglen shooting was letting them down and when the reliable Hickey missed a 21-yard free it was their eight of the half with five minutes remaining.
The atmosphere was at fever pitch and when club chairman and wing back Thomas Kenneally shot over a monstrous point in added time it looked the sealing and crucial score of the game.
Freemount came storming back and a Padraig Collins shot went inches wide of the left post deep into added time.
There was still time for Freemount to break the Araglen hearts but thankfully for them Michael O’Callaghan blasted his 21-yard free over the bar.
The sound of the final whistle brought all sorts of emotion in the Araglen camp but on the day they were simply outstanding as a team.
It was breathtaking game!
Scorers for Araglen: O Hickey 0-5 (f), P Hynes 1-1, J Kearney 1-0, T Kenneally 0-2, J Kearney 0-2, B Carey, F Hickey (0-1 each).
Freemount: P Collins 0-6 (0-2f), M O’Callaghan 0-5 (0-2f)S ,P Curtin 0-2, S Fehin, D Curtin, D Collins (0-1each)
Araglen: S Brackett; P J Aherne, S Russell, K Condon; T Kenneally, C O’Mahony, B Carey; F Hickey, S Hegarty; S Motherway, O Hickley, P Hynes; J Kearney, B Allen, J Kearney.
Subs: P Hickey for S Motherway (h-t), S O’Gorman for O Hickey (inj 55), D Browne for B Allen (60).
Freemount: J Morrissey; C Broderick, S McSweeney, J Walsh; L Enright, M Ballantyne, S O’Callaghan; M O’Callaghan, D Curtin; Mc Sweeney, S Fehin, K O’Connor; P Collins, P Curtin, M Lynes.
Subs: T Nunan for S Fehin (48), D Collins for M Lynes (48), B Carroll for K O’Connor (60).
Referee: Shane Scanlon (Newcestown).