BY NIALL SHERRY
Dicksboro end ‘Vegas Boys’ run with dominant victory
St Canice’s Credit Union Senior Hurling Championship
Quarter Final Review
Three quarter-final ties took place last weekend as the battle for the Tom Walsh Cup begins to heat up. There were victories for Dicksboro, James Stephens and Tullaroan, while the postponed clash between Clara and Shamrocks Ballyhale game will be played on Sunday as part of a double header in UPMC Nowlan Park this Sunday.
The semi-final draw is as follows:
Clara/Shamrocks Ballyhale V Tullaroan
James Stephens V Dicksboro
James Stephens 1-20 Bennettsbridge 1-15
Having navigated their way past a tricky relegation semi-final, The Village advanced to the last four of this year’s championship after a 5-point win over Bennettsbridge at UPMC Nowlan Park last weekend.
This game was expected to be a close and it took a strong finish from James Stephens to get them over the line against Will Maher’s charges. The Bridge started brightly, with scores from Nicky Cleere, Kevin Blanchfield and Hugh O’Neill and it would be placed ball expert Nicky Cleere that would keep the scoreboard ticking over for his side during the opening period.
You could sense the tension and the fact that a place in the last four was the prize on offer as both sides battled for supremacy.
While Nicky Cleere was the chief protagonist for score getting for The Bridge, Niall Brassil was his nemesis on The Village side. Indeed, Brassil struck over five placed balls himself as Seamus Dwyer’s outfit kept in touch with their opponents. The city side also registered points from play via Luke Scanlon, the lively Matthew Ruth and one from Brassil himself as only the bear minimum separated the sides at the short whistle, The Bridge just edging the opening half.
The second half began with the dead-ball specialists registering further scores for both sides as the game struggled to ignite. Hugh O’Neill, Ciaran Brennan and the ever-reliable Nicky Cleere registered further points for Maher’s men while Niall Brassil and the well-marshalled Eoin Guilfoyle struck for The Village as both sides seemed keen to send the game to extra-time!
As the game approached its final ten minutes, The Village edged ahead thanks to a nice point from Andy Parsons, but things were about to get a whole lot better for the city side. Tadhg O’Dwyer took a nice pass before finishing well beyond The Bridge’s netminder, Enda Cleere. That major from The Village appeared to shock Wille Maher’s men into life and they responded with a 3-pointer of their own through Nicky Cleere to level matters again.
James Stephens goal scorer O’Dwyer notched a lovely point while Niall Brassil added to his tally, before late scores from Andy Parsons and Eoin Guilfoyle secured safe passage for Seamus Dwyer’s charges to the last four. A special mention for Cian Kenny who was thoroughly impressive in his sides victory.
Tullaroan 0-18 Erin’s Own 0-15
The first game of the day at headquarters saw Tullaroan take on Castlecomer outfit Erin’s Own.
The placed ball specialists on both teams kept the umpires busy throughout proceedings with Jack Buggy and Shane Walsh demonstrating their accuracy in a cagey affair.
Along with his free-taking exploits, Shane Walsh was equally as impressive from play notching 3-points in an eye-catching 7-point display in the opening period, to leave his team 3-up at the short whistle.
Niall Rigney’s charges plugged away and did level matters after scores from Kevin Holland, Jack Buggy, county man Conor Fogarty and Eoin Brennan, but The Sash refused to be beaten and pulled away in the final stages to restore their 3-point half-time lead at the long whistle.
A quite stunning performance from Shane Walsh as Ken Coogan’s outfit made it back-to-back championship semi-final appearances.
Mullinavat 1-11 Dicksboro 3-1
Having surprised many neutrals with their victory over O’Loughlin Gaels, The Vegas Boys came back to earth with a bump when they faced-off against a determined looking ‘Boro side.
The Palmerstown outfit signaled their intent in the opening minutes when some lovely approach play from Mark Nolan was rewarded with an equally good finish to the net by U20 All-Ireland winner, Timmy Clifford.
Mullinavat almost had a major of their own shortly after when Ger Malone’s goal-bound effort was somehow stopped by Dicksboro keeper Daragh Holohan. Man-of-the-match Andy Gaffney notched the first point of the game and this started a sequence which saw the No.14 notch several fine scores, before John Walsh struck over a free to get The Vat up and running on the score board.
Gaffney had his fifth score of the day before Mullinavat hit two on the bounce to reduce the deficit to five. Timmy Clifford and Liam Moore added further scores in the second quarter, but it was Andy Gaffney that was proving a real thorn in the side of The Vegas Boys. Indeed, any hope of Adrian Burke’s charges mounting a comeback were firmly extinguished when Liam Moore raised the second green flag of the day for Dicksboro.
Before the half-time whistle sounded, Andy Gaffney had his 9th point of the day. The game was as good as over, Dicksboro twelve up at the interval.
Adrian Burke had clearly given his charges the ‘hair-dryer’ treatment in the changing rooms, as they emerged with a little more fire in their bellies after the break. Mullinavat game their supporters something to cheer when John Walsh hit the net in the early stages of the second period.
Burke’s outfit were much more competitive in the reminder of the game, restricting Dicksboro to fewer opportunities in the second half, but even against the wind, Andy Gaffney was dangerous.
The maroon’s scoring dried up in the middle part of the second half, but the introduction of Harry Shine saw Dicksboro notch further scores as they glided to a very comfortable victory, capped off by a goal from the very impressive Gaffney. James Stephens beware.
>> What’s up next
Clara vs Shamrocks Ballyhale
The last remaining tie in this year’s St Canice’s Credit Union Senior Hurling Championship quarter-finals will take place on Sunday in UPMC Nowlan Park, when Clara will look to cause an upset when they meet five-in-a-row chasing Shamrocks Ballyhale. (throw-in 2pm)
Originally scheduled for last Sunday, the game was postponed following the sad passing of former chairman and current vice president of Ballyhale; Patrick Holden.
This could well prove to be a tricky tie for Pat Hoban’s men as they seek to secure the final last four berth.
The sides met in the opening round of this season’s league, and it was Clara that took the victory that day with a stunning comeback in front of a large crowd in Thomastown. An inspired performance from wing-forward Liam Ryan helped Clara claw back a seven-point deficit and get over the line by the smallest of margins.
Clara went on to claim the shield with an impressive victory over Dicksboro, again coming from behind to snatch the honours. That day it was Chris Bolger that stepped forward and did the business.
Ballyhale will know that the Clara attacking unit has the potential to cause problems, and the Shamrocks defence will need to be on their toes and ready to battle against the likes of Bolger, Liam Ryan, John Murphy and Jason Byrne.
Goalkeeper Kevin Nolan has a steady defence in front of him, with Bill Carrigan and a spine of Langton’s out to spoil the forwards plans.
Last time out against Glenmore, Shamrocks advanced to the quarter-finals with ease and had some eye-catching performances from county men TJ Reid, Eoin Cody, Adrian Mullen, along with captain Ronan Corcoran.
Tullaroan await the winners of this one, and you’d imagine Shamrocks Ballyhale would love another crack at The Sash in their bid to claim another Tom Walsh Cup which would leave them tied with Tullaroan on 20 County titles.
This game should whet the appetite nicely for the city derby semi-final between Dicksboro and James Stephens that follows at 3:45pm.