BY NIALL SHERRY
ALL PIX: DANNY LAHART
Bergin’s boys make provincial semi despite defeat
Leinster Minor Hurling Championship
Kilkenny 2-16 (22)
Dublin 3-14 (23)
UPMC Nowlan Park
The Metropolitans claimed the bragging rights following a hard earned one point victory over Kilkenny at UPMC Nowlan Park last Saturday.
Following the young Cats win against Wexford in the opening game, expectations were high going into the game against Collie Maher’s boys in blue. The provincial tussle at minor level has been intriguing, with all sides gaining one win from their games to date.
Niall Bergin’s charges qualified for the semi-final stage of the competition, by virtue of scoring difference, thanks to Eoghan Lyng’s injury time goal against the Dubs. The Cats boss will know that there is plenty of improvement in his young side, as they look to build on their start.
Kilkenny came out of the blocks quickly and took the lead inside the first couple of minutes, thanks to a fine point from Graigue-Ballycallan’s Jeff Neary. Things nearly got a whole lot better for the home side shortly after, when Anthony Ireland-Wall’s goal-bound effort was flicked behind by Dublin’s goalkeeper, Senan Clarke. The Noresiders number 12, Aaron McEvoy slotted over the resulting ‘65, to extend his team’s lead.
The visitors got off the mark soon after, when Kilkenny centre-back Eoghan Lyng has rather harshly adjudged to have over-carried. Erins Own’s Ollie Gaffney made no mistake as he fired over the free. Dublin were level soon afterwards, when corner-forward Tomas Moore turned his man before striking over a nice point.
O’Loughlin’s club man Greg Kelly then struck a point from some 65 metres, following some nice team play and patience shown by the young lads in black and amber. Then with 9 minutes on the clock, the first green flag of the day was raised. Eoghan Lyng’s free from distance dropped in and around the danger zone and Danesfort attacker Anthony Ireland-Wall struck the ball to the Dublin net with a sumptuous strike.
The home supporters had hardly finished celebrating the cracking strike from Ireland-Wall, when James Bergin’s charges raised what was to be the first of three majors for the Capital team. Ollie Gaffney took control of the ball from the puck-out and drove forward. The Erins Own player passed to the on-running David Purcell who dispatched his shot beyond Stephen Manogue in the Kilkenny goal. Not to be outdone by his midfield partner, Sam Lewis then sent over a fine point to bring the sides level.
On 12 minutes, Aaron McEvoy pointed from a free to edge his side ahead, and soon after he pointed from play to put Kilkenny two points ahead. His point from play came after some wonderful improvisation by his captain, Tom McPhillips. The Dicksboro player battled with his marker, lost his hurl, but had the presence of mind to kick the ball forward to McEvoy, who did the rest from more than 45 metres out. The home side then hit a third point on the bounce following some wonderful team play. Eoghan Lyng picked out Anthony Ireland-Wall with a lovely pass, and the corner forward laid the ball off to Marty Murphy. The Tullogher-Rosbercon man game the move the finish it deserved as Kilkenny moved 3 points ahead.
Dublin needed to respond and boy did they. First up, their captain Cian Moran struck over a long-range free to delight of the large travelling support. Then on 19 minutes, the boys in blue got their second major of the day. Cats keeper Stephen Manogue made a great save, and as the James Stephens player tried to clear his lines, the ball was blocked. Conor Newton reacted quickest and fired the ball to the Kilkenny net. The Dublin supporters well and truly found their voices inside UPMC Nowlan Park. Cian Moran then slotted over his second long-range effort of the day to put the Metropolitans 2 points ahead.
It appeared the home side were wobbling a little. Clara forward Rory Glynn then pointed from a tight angle, finishing off a lovely move involving Tom McPhillips and Jeff Neary. Dublin centre-back Senan Crosbie, who’s powerful forward runs had been causing the home side problems from the start, then strode into Cats territory before unleashing a fine strike that sailed between the Kilkenny posts. Naomh Barrog’s Michael Tierney then put the visitors 3 ahead with 26 minutes on the clock.
Kilkenny managed to close the gap before the short whistle, thanks to another well-worked team score, this time James Stephens Ed McDermott got the final touch. Aaron McEvoy then slotted over another placed ball, to leave just the minimum between the teams at half-time, Kilkenny 1-9, Dublin 2-7.
The home side opened the scoring in the second half, via another free from Graigue-Ballycallan’s Aaron McEvoy. The same player added to his personal tally a minute later, following a foul on Marty Murphy. Murphy then got on the score sheet himself, following some great pressure from the Cats as they forced a turnover. Wexford referee Gearoid McGrath then harshly showed Timmy Kelly a yellow card, and Dublin captain Cian Moran again showed his accuracy from distance with a fine free.
Collie Maher’s men then turned the game on its head again. Ollie Gaffney, a constant thorn in the home sides defence, now operating on the edge of the square, struck a lovely point from over the shoulder, before hitting his sides third major. A Dublin attack looked to have been thwarted, but as Billy O’Neill attempted to clear, he was blocked and that man Gaffney made no mistake as struck the ball home.
Aaron McEvoy then sent over another free from about 45 metres out as he tried to stem the rising Dublin tide. Again, the boys from the Capital responded and their captain Cian Moran struck over two points in a row, one from a ‘65, the other another long range free. Kilkenny captain, Tom McPhillips then stepped forward and pointed, but the next score came from a blue shirt as full-forward Conor Brennan got on the score sheet.
Jeff Neary then pointed to reduce the arrears before Dublin keeper Senan Clarke prevented a near-certain goal from Anthony Ireland-Wall. The home side managed to rescue a point from the situation via Rory Glynn. The visitors star-man Ollie Gaffney then almost hit another goal, but the ball just went over the bar, before the same player pointed from a placed ball to leave the boys in blue 4 ahead in injury time.
To their credit, Kilkenny kept going. Referee McGrath awarded the home side a 20-metre free. Eoghan Lyng stood over it knowing to give his side any chance, a goal was needed. The Rower-Inistioge player struck his shot well and it somehow crossed the line, despite the entire Dublin population appearing to be lining the goal.
Time was not to be Kilkenny’s friend, as the long whistle sounded to bring a hugely entertaining encounter to an end. Dublin victorious. Final score, Kilkenny 2-16, Dublin 3-14.
Scorers Kilkenny – Aaron McEvoy (0-7, 0-5 frees, 0-1 65); Anthony Ireland-Wall (1-0); Eoghan Lyng (1-0, free); Jeff Neary, Rory Glynn, Marty Murphy (0-2 each); Greg Kelly, Tom McPhillips, Ed McDermott (0-1 each).
Scorers Dublin – Ollie Gaffney (1-4, 0-2 frees); Cian Moran (0-5, 0-4 frees, 0-1 65); Conor Newton, David Purcell (1-0 each); Tomas Moore (0-2); Sam Lewis, Conor Brennan, Senan Crosbie (0-1 each).
Kilkenny – Sean Manogue (James Stephens); Rory Garrett (Fenians), Evan Murphy (Dicksboro), Billy O’Neill (Graigue-Ballycallan); Timmy Kelly (Bennettsbridge), Eoghan Lyng (Rower-Inistioge), Ivan Bolger (Graignamanagh); Tom McPhillips (Dicksboro, capt), Greg Kelly (O’Loughlin Gaels); Ed McDermott (James Stephens), Jeff Neary (Graigue-Ballycallan), Aaron McEvoy (Graigue-Ballycallan); Rory Glynn (Clara), Marty Murphy (Tullogher-Rosbercon), Anthony Ireland-Wall (Danesfort).
Subs: Micheál Ahern, Mikey Stynes, CJ Fitzpatrick
Dublin – Senan Clarke; Brendan Kenny, Dylan Brennan, Ben Lynch; Eoghan O’Riordan, Senan Crosbie, Cian Moran; David Purcell, Sam Lewis; Ollie Gaffney, Ciaran Donovan, Micheál Tierney; Tomás Moore, Conor Brennan, Conor Newton.
Subs: Darragh Lyons, Ruán O’Connor, Tommy Butler
Referee – Gearoid McGrath (Wexford).
>> SHERRY SAYS………..
This was always going to be a close encounter. Two really competitive sides going toe-to-toe at the home of Kilkenny hurling.
Dublin came out on the right side of the result. Niall Bergin will know that his side did have the chances to win the match, but I’d imagine he will be both pleased and relieved to make the semi-finals.
Aaron McEvoy missed a couple of chances, but he top scored with 0-7. Marty Murphy looks a real handful on the edge of the square, and we may see more direct ball going into the Tullogher-Rosbercon man as the championship progresses.
In the corners, Rory Glynn and Anthony Ireland-Wall were lively throughout, and there is definitely gear in both these lads. Tom McPhillips and Greg Kelly look like they could form a useful midfield partnership.
Eoghan Lyng’s ability to read the game at ‘6’ also allows the Rower-Inistioge to get on plenty of ball and use his undoubted passing ability to build attacks.
Keep an eye on Niall Bergin’s charges…. they have plenty more in the tank.