BY NIALL SHERRY
Bennettsbridge maintain perfect record as the Sash beat Ballyhale to make decider
This year’s St. Canice’s Credit Union Senior Hurling League Final will see Bennettsbridge face-off against Ken Coogan’s Tullaroan next week, after both sides topped their respective groups after five rounds of games.
Bennettsbridge finished the group stages unbeaten, following a hard-fought 4-point win over winless Graigue-Ballycallan, in what proved to be one of the Bridge’s more difficult assignments during this season’s league campaign. Placed-ball specialist Nicky Cleere was in good form again, and kept the scoreboard ticking over. The Blanchfield’s along with Sean Morrissey notched scores to ensure there was no surprise in Dunnamaggin.
Meanwhile in Callan, Tullaroan produced a remarkable display to record an eye-catching victory over Shamrocks Ballyhale, and in doing so ensured they finished top of Group A to qualify for the league final showdown with Bennettsbridge next week.
That outcome appeared highly unlikely after the opening period, when Pat Hoban’s charges raced into what seemed to be an unassailable eight-point lead. Brian Cody (2), Adrian Mullen (2) and veteran TJ Reid (1-2) had Shamrocks 1-6 to 0-1 ahead with just under 11 minutes of action at John Locke Park. Tullaroan’s only score in the opening period came from a nice point by John Walton, one of three fine scores from play.
As ever with the Sash, there would be a major contribution from the Walsh Clan. It would be the youngest of the family, Shane that drove his side on and got them back into contention. The Ballyhale defence struggled to cope with the half-forward as Tullaroan managed to defy the elements and go into the interval all square, 0-14 to 1-11.
After their bright start, Ballyhale became more dependent on TJ getting the scores, while their opponents had more hands at the ready, John Walton and Mossy Keoghan notching scores to edge them ahead. Despite a second major for the Shamrocks via Brian Cody, Tullaroan stood firm, containing the threat of Eoin Cody while keeping the umpires busy raising white flags as they marched to a 6-point win.
Clara qualified for the Shield final, where they will meet Dicksboro, courtesy of a 10-point win over Lisdowney in Jenkinstown. Lisdowney will need to put in decent shift against James Stephens, if they are to avoid a relegation decider against the losers of Erins Own and Graigue-Ballycallan.
Mullinavat made it three wins on the bounce with a well-deserved 3-point victory over Erins Own in Gowran. A 12-point haul shared between John Walsh and Ger Malone was the platform on which the ‘Vat secured the points from the round five clash with the Castlecomer men.
O’Loughlin Gaels made it 3 wins from five when they defeated Glenmore by three points in Thomastown. Eoin Wall top-scored for Andy Comerford’s men, hitting an impressive 2-3, while county men Paddy Deegan and Huw Lawlor notch 5-points between them. Glenmore also looked lively in attack, with Ian Byrne notching 1-10 and Liam Hennessey hitting 0-5.
Glenmore will know that they will need to tighten up at the back when the face holders Shamrocks Ballyhale in the first round of the championship next week. O’Loughlin’s will face the in-form Vegas Boys in what promises to be quite a test for last season’s beaten finalists.
City slickers put on good fayre as Dicksboro win by 4!
James Stephens 0-14
Dicksboro will meet the challenge of Clara in the Shield Final next week after having emerged victorious in their final group game with The Village at UPMC Nowlan Park last weekend. A Bill Sheehan brace of majors proved the difference in an entertaining encounter at headquarters.
Michael Walsh’s men got off to a flying start, thanks to the first of Sheehan’s double coming in the first minute of play.
Andy Gaffney thought he had raised a second green flag moments later, but his effort was ruled out following a foul in the build-up. James Stephens got the score board moving thanks to a placed ball from Eoin Guilfoyle but the Palmerstown outfit struck two in a row, thanks to a couple of points from Gaffney.
The placed ball scoring run was broken when Mark Nolan and defender Alan Phelan fired over points to further cement their superiority. To the Village’s credit, they dug in and scores from County star Cian Kenny, Tadhg O’Dwyer and the hard-working Luke Scanlon closed the gap on the ‘Boro.
James Stephens suffered a major blow when the lively Sheehan bagged his second major of the day and Dicksboro tagged on another couple of points before the short whistle to go into the break 5-points to the good.
The Village started the second period with more of a spring in their step, with Luke Scanlon really catching the eye while notching some nice scores. There was a little lull in proceedings, before Dicksboro lifted things again and going into the final quarter they held a 3-point lead. Dead-ball specialist Guilfoyle kept plugging away, slotting frees to keep the game interesting, but a final flurry from the ‘Boro including further scores from U20 County man Timmy Clifford and goal scorer Sheehan saw the maroon’s home by 4-points.
Final score at UPMC Nowlan Park, Dicksboro 2-14, James Stephens 0-14.
A disappointing league campaign for The Village, who will need to re-group before facing Lisdowney in a match that double’s up as a relegation semi-final and 1st round championship encounter.
Dicksboro will look to build on their solid league form when they meet Clara in the shield final next week, and will look to the likes of Bill Sheehan, Timmy Clifford to continue their good scoring form.