Stapleton on fire as Palmerstown side ease to win
BY NIALL SHERRY, SPORTS EDITOR
St Canice’s Credit Union Kilkenny Senior Hurling League Final
Dicksboro 3-19 Glenmore 0-15
It may only have been league silverware, but Dicksboro served notice of their intent to challenge for the biggest prize with a confident slick performance to overpower Glenmore in last weekend’s league decider at UPMC Nowlan Park. The silverware was won without Andy Gaffney lining out, but his replacement, Shane Stapleton stepped up to the plate and put in a man-of-the-match display and will certainly have given the ‘Boro management team plenty to check about, ahead of a championship quarter-final.
Three majors and a healthy nineteen points proved to be too much for Glenmore, who were well below power in the league decider and their supporters will hope that they can raise their game again for the knockout hurling to follow.
Dicksboro got off to a flyer and had 1-2 on the scoreboard in the opening 3 minutes, thanks to points from Shane Stapleton (f) and Cillian Hackett. Their first major was a result of finding space and strong running that ended in a lovely goal from Aidan Nolan. Glenmore got off the mark in the 4th minute, when Alan Murphy was fouled, and the same player converted the placed ball. Centre-half forward Liam Moore then showed good pace and skill to beat Sean Duggan before splitting the posts for another ‘Boro score but Glenmore replied with two of their own scores, both from play via Alan Murphy and Cathal Beirne.
Michael Walsh’s charges then fired over a brace of their own, Shane Stapleton and captain Bill Sheehan with points to take their side into a 5-point lead. It was looking all too easy for the Palmerstown outfit as their pace and movement were causing their opponents problems all over the pitch. Bob Aylward’s men needed to find some rhythm and fast to prevent the game getting away from them in the opening period and they did just that with three scores on the bounce from Ian Byrne, Alan Murphy (f) and a classy strike from talisman Ger Aylward tight to the left sideline to reduce the ‘Boro lead to just 2 points.
Timmy Clifford, perhaps more accustomed to operating in the forward line, then delivered a lovely pass from deep to Cillian Hackett who split the posts with a classy score and was reveling in playing close to goals. Glenmore captain Shane Murphy then fired over a fine score, before finding himself in ref Patrick O’Reilly’s book for very little with 18 minutes gone. Shane Stapleton converted the placed ball and Dicksboro built on this with two cracking points from Tom Kenny and Aidan Nolan to restore their 5-point lead with five minutes remaining in the first half.
Shane Stapleton was really enjoying his afternoon and Glenmore were struggling to curb his influence on the game and his next involvement was to be crucial in crushing the opposition’s challenge. What appeared to be a normal sideline cut was worked into a clever move that saw captain Bill Sheehan take the sliotar from the cut and head towards Mikey Kirwan’s goal before dispatching an unstoppable shot to the Glenmore net. Again, Alan Murphy struck back for the south Kilkenny club having been fouled himself. The final score of the first half came from the ‘Boro with a powerful break out of their own defence which resulted in Timmy Clifford rifling over a long range effort from play to leave the interval score, Dicksboro 2-10, Glenmore 0-8.
Bob Aylward and his management team were clearly unhappy at their sides showing in the opening half hour, as they made a double change at the break with Robbie Fitzgerald and Darragh Hartley replacing Dean Croke and Richie Hennessy. These changes didn’t appear to halt the Dicksboro momentum as they struck the first two scores of the second period, thanks to points from Ollie Walsh and another placed ball effort from Shane Stapleton.
Glenmore then reeled off three points without reply, two from play from Ian Byrne, Ger Aylward and a free from Alan Murphy. Bill Sheehan broke the opposition’s run of scores with a lovely one of his own from play before Ger Aylward struck over another after Ian Byrne picked him out from a sideline cut. Kilkenny’s Leinster Final hero, Cillian Buckley then robbed Eoin Aylward and sent over a nice point from out on the left before Stapleton notched another placed ball to push the Dicksboro lead to an impressive nine points with ten minutes remaining at UPMC Nowlan Park.
Alan Murphy then fired over a hat trick of placed balls as Dicksboro showed some sloppiness with the result nailed on. Glenmore needed goals, but despite Ger Aylward’s best efforts, Dara Holohan stood firm in the ‘Boro goal. Unfortunately for Bob Aylward’s men, the next goal would also be one for the opposition, and it was the impressive Shane Stapleton that bagged it following another surging run. The same player would add two further scores for his side to add to another from the lively Cillian Hackett to leave the final score in the 2023 St Canice’s Senior League Final, Dicksboro 3-19, Glenmore 0-15.
Round – up
O’Loughlin Gaels won a high-scoring Shield Final when they defeated James Stephens 5-20 to 2-15 in the curtain-raiser to the league final at UPMC Nowlan Park. Village boss Brian Cody will hope that like Glenmore, that performance is now out of the system as the serious stuff starts now.
The last game of Saturday took place at a very windy John Locke Park where Shamrocks Ballyhale saw off a valiant challenge from Danesfort to secure senior hurling for next season and a passage to quarter finals of the Tom Walsh Cup. TJ once again delivered the goods and weighed in with two majors to see his side home by 8 points in Callan.
Sunday’s action saw another double-header at headquarters with Graigue Ballycallan coming out 4-point winners over Clara, captain Tommy Ronan and Sean Ryan looking impressive for the Tom Ryall Park side.
The second game on the bill featured the tussle of Bennettsbridge and Tullaroan. The Bridge held a 4-point lead at the interval and powered in the 2nd half to run out 8-point winners and hit five majors during another high-scoring affair.
Danesfort was the venue for the final action of last weekend, the clash of Erins Own and Mullinavat. This relegation semi-final saw the Vegas Boys win out comfortably against the Castlecomer side, a whopping 13-points in it at the long whistle. That sets up an interesting relegation final, with Danesfort set to lock horns with Erins Own, a place at the top table up for grabs, so plenty still to play for these two sides.
St Canice’s Credit Union Senior Hurling Championship Quarter Final Preview
Some intriguing ties are down for decision this weekend as the St Canice’s Credit Union Senior Hurling Championship reaches the quarter final stage. Each team knows that there are no second chances and for some it will be the end of the road for this season.
Dicksboro vs Shamrocks Ballyhale
Sunday 4:15pm, UPMC Nowlan Park
League winner’s vs county, Provincial and All-Ireland Champions. This could be a classic. The ease with which Dicksboro disposed of Glenmore in the league final suggests that the Palmerstown based club are in rude health as they enter the knockout stages of the Tom Walsh Cup. Their total of 3-19 would win most matches, and they will know that chances will need to be taken when they take on Kilkenny’s finest this weekend.
Michael Walsh’s men may have been expecting to meet Shamrocks slightly further down the line in this year’s championship, but you have to play the hand that you are dealt, and this last eight encounter will show exactly where Dicksboro are at. The men in maroon will fancy their chances of progressing to the last four and in doing so, end the quest for a sixth consecutive county title for the men from south Kilkenny.
Shamrocks are under no illusions and will need to summon all their clubs’ spirit as they seek to defend their various crowns. Many have written Pat Hoban’s men off this season and that particular brigade will be primed for this quarter final battle. I expect Shamrocks big names to really step up, and believe me, they will need to if their incredible club journey is to continue in 2023.
Glenmore vs Bennettsbridge
Saturday 4:45pm, Clara
I’m really looking forward to this encounter. These two teams put on a brilliant display in Inistioge early this month, with Bob Aylward’s men coming out 6-point winners in the group stages. Both sides have great scoring ability and Glenmore will be hoping that their league final performance was merely a blip when they tackle Tim Dooley’s side for the second time this September.
Like we’ve said before, the Murphy clan really drive their side on, and in Alan they have a very reliable scorer at the top end of the pitch. Throw in Ger Aylward, Ian Byrne and Cathal Beirne and there is a good recipe for success. While Beirne in particular has been in good form this season, his captain, Shane Murphy continues to look a class act as he directs operations from wing back.
The Bridge put Tullaroan to the sword last weekend and their clan, the Blanchfield’s will look to power their side to victory and into the last four. Throw Sean Morrissey, Nicky and Jason Cleere into the mix and this game could be a cracker.
James Stephens vs Graigue Ballycallan
Sunday 1:45pm, UPMC Nowlan Park
Village boss Brian Cody will know that his side will need to tighten up at the back if they want to see-off the Tom Ryall Park side. The legendary manager won’t have been pleased with conceding five majors against O’Loughlin’s in the recent shield final. If the defence can stand firm, the likes of Eoin Guilfoyle, Cian Kenny and Niall Brassil could help secure a semi-final berth. Graigue Ballycallan got the better of Clara last week and will look to Billy and Sean Ryan along with captain Tommy Ronan to cause another upset when they tackle the Kells Road side. Many experts had tipped the light blue’s to be fighting relegation this season, but they have shown that there is plenty of fight in the jersey.
O’Loughlin Gaels vs Mullinavat
Saturday, 1:30pm, Thomastown
Having dismantled the Village to claim the Shield, Brian Hogan’s men will know that they face a real banana skin, when the face-off against Mullinavat. Should O’Loughlin’s hit anywhere near the 5-20 that they racked up against Brian Cody’s men, you would think that would be more than enough to see off Colm O’Byrne’s side.
The Gaels have many more household names than this weekend’s opponents, Lawlor, Deegan, Bergin, Butler etc., so there’s no doubting the talented panel that will take to the field against the Vegas Boys. If free taker Adam Mansfield can keep the scoreboard ticking over, and the ‘Vat brings their undoubted physicality to the tie, you just never know, but it’s hard to see anything other than O’Loughlin’s progressing.