2002 County Senior Final – 20th Anniversary
Since making the breakthrough with their Maiden County Senior Title in 1996, hopes were high that Young Irelands would add to that maiden triumph, but they had to wait until 2002 when DJ Carey gave one of the great individual performances in a County Final to inspire the Gowran men to victory against Dunnamaggin.
Their County Final win reversed the result from 5 years earlier(1997), when Dunnamaggin under the guidance of the late Brendan Fennelly defeated the then County Champions Young Irelands 2-10 to 2-7.
That defeat had an effect on Young Irelands & they endured a barren period of a few years before coming to the fore again in 2002.
Twenty years ago in 2002, DJ had actually played very little hurling having taking an extended break & he only featured for the Black & Amber twice that year, but in both games that he played – The All-Ireland Semi-Final & All-Ireland Final win – he made a massive impact.
In the All-Ireland Semi-Final, he scored 0-4 & set-up the all important goal for Jimmy Coogan in Kilkenny’s hard fought victory against Tipperary, while in the All-Ireland win against Clare DJ scored 1-6 & his contribution included a perfectly timed goal from a Henry Shefflin delivery, along with an unforgettable majestic solo point where he controlled the sliotar & struck over without catching – He had already caught the sliotar twice – after memorably selling Ollie Baker a dummy.
DJ’s form in those two games was a huge boost to Young Irelands prospects & he carried that form forward into the Club Championship.
He scored a hat-trick of goals (3-4) in their Quarter-Final win against Graigue-Ballycallan, while Young Irelands prevailed narrowly 0-17 to 0-16 against James Stephens as Dunnamaggin prevailed 3-17 to 3-14 against Fenians after a replay in the other Semi-Final.
The County Final original fixture was cancelled due to inclement weather, but the re-fixture was played on a beautiful Autumn afternoon as DJ gave his finest performance on one of Young Irelands greatest day.
Marking one of the greatest full-backs to have played the game in Noel Hickey, DJ was on fire right from the outset as he struck over two early points from play.
James McDermott & David Carter added further points, before Dunnamaggin got off the mark in the 10th minute. 0-4 to 0-1.
Young Irelands took a grip shortly afterwards with DJ & his brother Jack centrally involved.
Jack Carey went on a strong penetrating solo run through the heart of the Dunnamaggin defence to set-up Dick Carroll.
Dick’s shot was saved by David Herity, before DJ Carey fired home the rebound to apply the finishing touch. 1-4 to 0-1.
Colin Herity pointed two frees to keep the scoreboard ticking over, but the Gowran men took further control with a sublime moment of genius from The Dodger.
DJ shielded the ball out of the ruck about 20 metres from goal, & selling a dummy he raced through to create space before unleashing a powerful & unstoppable shot for his & Young Irelands second goal. 2-4 to 0-3.
Dunnamaggin kept battling away & they narrowed the deficit to four points at the interval. 2-5 to 0-7.
Into the second-galf & two further pointed frees shortly after the restart by Colin Herity had narrowed the gap further to just two points(2-5 to 0-9) & from that moment the game opened up further much to Young Irelands advantage.
The Gowran men maintained the lead throughout the third quarter with DJ adding further points, while the always dangerous Davy Carter fired over a superb individual effort.
Young Irelands third goal midway through the second-half was the clincher & put them on the map to victory.
Jack Carey – A real unsung hero for Young Irelands over the years – won possession & he sent a long hopeful ball goalwards that was gathered by Dick Carroll who raced through to fire a rasping shot for a well deserved goal. 3-9 to 0-12.
The Gowran men remained in control & further points from DJ Carey – including a long distance effort from a free – & his brother Jack which was thoroughly deserved for his trojan efforts.
Sean Ryan grabbed a late consolation goal for Dunnamaggin, but there was no doubting Young Irelands overall superiority as they won out 3-14 to 1-15.
It was a magnificent team performance by Young Irelands right the way through from goalkeeper & team captain Martin Carey to his star brother in attack.
Defensively, they were solid & tenacious all through, Ollie Carter & James McDermott ruled the roost in midfield, while all 6 forwards got their name on the scoresheet with DJ Carey leading the way in giving one of his finest performances.
Having learned from the experience of losing to Rathnure in the opening round of the Leinster Championship in 1996 shortly after winning their first County Title, Young Irelands were hugely intent of giving the Provincial Championship a right go.
Just a week after defeating Dunnamaggin in the County Final, Young Irelands made the trip to Navan to play the Meath Champions Kilmessan in the quarter-final of the Leinster Championship & they certainly showed no ill effects as they strolled to an easy win, 3-20 to 0-7 with DJ Carey scoring 2-5, Dick Carroll with 1-4, while Charlie Carter contributed 0-5 from play.
Next up was Rathnure also away in Wexford in the Leinster semi-final & after a tight & tense first-half, Young Irelands began to dominate throughout the second-half & goals from DJ Carey – 2-4(1-3 frees) – & David Carter inspired them to a 3-12 to 0-10 win.
That victory set-up a Leinster Final showdown with defending All-Ireland Champions Birr, but unfortunately the day in O’Moore Park, Portlaoise was marred by horrendous weather conditions.
Birr won out a very low scoring match 2-5 to 1-2 & subsequently went on to retain the All-Ireland with victories against Athenry in the All-Ireland Semi-Final before defeating Dunloy in the decider.
Young Irelands went on to contest the County Final the following two years in 2003 & 2004 as they suffered heartbreak on these occasions.
In 2003, they lost to O’Loughlin Gaels after a replay as they appeared to be victorious on both occasions.
The O’Loughlin’s Men snatched a last gasp injury-time goal to force a replay, before overturning a 7 point deficit with 10 minutes remaining to break Young Irelands hearts, while the following year in 2004 a hat-trick of goals from frees by DJ Carey inspired a fightback that ultimately saw them come up a point short against the eventual Leinster & All-Ireland Champions James Stephens.
However, 20 years ago saw one of Young Irelands greatest days as DJ led them to their Second County Senior Title.
YOUNG IRELANDS GOWRAN TEAM 2002 COUNTY FINAL: Martin Carey(Captain); Ciaran Carroll, Eoghan Farrell, Cathal Fitzgerald; Stephen Byrne, Thomas Drennan, Ciaran Phelan; James McDermott(0-1), Ollie Carter; James Fitzgerald(0-1), Jack Carey(0-1), Charlie Carter(0-2); Dick Carroll(1-0), DJ Carey (2-7 0-2 frees), David Carter(0-2). Subs: Martin Carter, Patrick Farrell, Pat O’Neill.
REST OF PANEL: Dermot Madden, Darragh Phelan, Peter Carroll, Liam Phelan, Thomas Carroll, Alan Doyle, Shane O’Neill, Colin Madden, Jonathan Dunphy, John Drennan, Patrick O’Neill, Richard Kennedy, Eric Corcoran