3 from 3 for the Pairc na Ratha men
BY NIALL SHERRY, SPORTS EDITOR
St. Canice’s Credit Union Senior Hurling League-Championship 2023
Erins Own 0-10 Glenmore 1-17
Glenmore made it 3 from 3 with a comprehensive victory over Erins Own in absolutely horrendous conditions at St John’s Park last Friday night. Storm Betty arrived and to many Gaels surprise, fixtures were given the go-ahead after early evening pitch inspections. Hurling 1, Storm Betty 0. Credit to all sides who gave their all on Friday evening – it was certainly very testing for all players and officials.
The men from Castlecomer got the scoreboard moving with a lovely effort from play by dangerman Jack Buggy from just inside the Glenmore ‘65. The league leaders were level in the 3rd minute when a well-worked sideline cut from Dean Croke to Alan Murphy resulted in the County man striking over a lovely, curled effort off his right side. Cathal Beirne, who has looked very lively this season, then nudged his side in front when he broke away from his marker before sending over a nice effort from out on the left side.
Dean Croke then won a good free after taking a lovely catch from a long Mikey Kirwan restart which gave Glenmore a free about 25 yards out to the right of the posts. Alan Murphy struck the placed ball hard and lower than usual, due to the elements and the umpire signaled a point, but in truth it looked like it took a touch on the way through and had gone behind for a ‘65. From the restart, Richie Hennessey broke the ball down to Alan Murphy who played a measured pass in the direction of Ian Byrne. The Kilkenny Panelist diverted the pass to the supporting Ger Aylward who fired over a wonderful score from tight to the right sideline, despite the conditions.
Eoin Murphy then rifled over another cracking score from play, close to the right sideline to make it 0-5 to 0-1 with almost 10 minutes played. There was a brief lull in the scoring as conditions appeared to worsen, but Jack Buggy got a much-needed score for the ‘Comer side from the placed ball on seventeen minutes. Alan Murphy then collected a brace of frees with Jack Buggy responding for Sean Dempsey’s charges. The final score of a testing first half came from an Alan Murphy placed ball to leave the half-time scoreline, Erins Own 0-3, Glenmore 0-10.
When the second half got underway, the first score came from Erins Own wing-back John Dowd. The next two scores were shared by free takers, Alan Murphy and Jack Buggy. Two of Glenmore’s young stars, Cathal Beirne and Ian Byrne then tagged on points from play to cement Bob Aylward’s sides dominance at the home of O’Loughlin’s. ‘Comer sub Eoin Brennan then emerged from a ruck to swivel and take a pot shot which split the posts.
Eoin Murphy then slotted over a ‘21 free after referee Conor Everard played a good advantage initially but brought play for an earlier infringement. Jack Buggy then split the posts from play to try and breathe life into the ‘Comer challenge. Ger Aylward then saw his name go into the referee’s book before 3 excellent points from play from Dean Croke and Cathal Beirne (2). Erins Own managed to hit two points on the bounce, but they really needed majors to try and set up a grandstand finish.
Then came the only major of the game. A Long restart by Mikey Kirwan was superably caught by Alan Murphy who popped a pass to Dean Croke who in turn found the on-running Ian Byrne. Byrne took another few strides before dispatching a great strike beyond Sean Buggy in the ‘Comer goal. Jack Buggy replied with a quality point from play, but it was too little too late as ref Conor Everard sounded the long whistle. Final score, Erins Own 0-10, Glenmore 1-17.
So, the first 3 rounds of the 2023 St. Canice’s Credit Union Senior Hurling League-Championship have been completed. What have we learned as we approach the business end of the Kilkenny club season?
Well, let’s start with Group A, and the current leaders Glenmore. Bob Aylward’s men have looked mightily impressive in their outings so far this season. With 3 wins on the bounce, the Pairc na Ratha based side have a perfect record, with victories recorded over Erins Own, James Stephens and big guns, Shamrocks Ballyhale. That’s not a bad record to have going into round four.
Their most recent win, last Friday’s victory over Erins Own, achieved in horrendous conditions at the home of O’Loughlin’s showed us that they can adapt to whatever is thrown at them. They hit a really decent total during storm Betty and showed plenty of grit, fight and determination in a game where the elements battering St Johns Park were a real leveler.
Glenmore have hit 4-55 during the first 3 rounds and have a scoring difference of +14. As usual, the ‘Murphy Clan’ has been driving everything forward for their club with Eoin, Alan and Shane, all very prominent in their sides desire to show that they are very much a senior club in the County. When you throw in Aylward’s Ger and Eoin, rising stars Cathal Beirne, Ian Byrne and Dean Croke, and you can begin to see how things are building nicely in the south of Kilkenny.
Three sides are locked on the 3-point marker, with James Stephens, Bennettsbridge and current champions Shamrocks Ballyhale all scrambling to remain on Glenmore’s tails. Tim Dooley’s charges are the only one of this trio that hasn’t faced Bob Aylward’s men as yet, but the other two sides will testify that the current leaders are a real threat.
Shamrocks got their first win of the campaign with a close victory over Graigue Ballycallen last weekend. Pat Hoban’s top trio of TJ, Eoin Cody and Adrian Mullen contributed all but 3 points of their sides 2-21 total. The Shamrocks are bidding for a 6th consecutive County title, and you get the feeling that with so many of last year’s panel missing, this trio of wonderful hurlers will need to keep producing the goods if they are to reach the pinnacle again.
Group games remaining against the ‘Bridge and The Village will tell us everything about this illustrious club’s chances this season. By the way, Hoban’s men are currently the top scorers in Group A.
Brian Cody’s Village outfit are ticking along somewhat under the radar. An opening round win over GBC was followed up by a 1-point defeat to Glenmore in a hugely entertaining encounter in Thomastown, while storm Betty was the winner when James Stephens clashed with Bennettsbridge in Danesfort last weekend. The men from Castlecomer and Shamrocks Ballyhale await.
Tim Dooley’s Bennettsbridge side are the joint lowest scorers in Group A, along with Erins Own and will know that an indifferent start so far will be tested with matches against Shamrocks and Glenmore remaining.
In Group B, it’s Dicksboro that are setting the pace at the break. Like Glenmore, Michael Walsh’s charges have a perfect record after 3 rounds of games having secured wins over Clara O’Loughlin’s and last time out, an emphatic win over Willie Coogan’s Danesfort. The men from Palmerstown have been very consistent so far and look to be harnessing underage success and blending this into the senior ranks. Boro’s final group game, a clash with Tullaroan scheduled for Ballyragget is sure to be an exciting encounter. The men in maroon are the top scorers at senior level this season. Make no mistake, Dicksboro are determined to have a big say in where the Tom Walsh Cup ends up.
Talking of Tullaroan, Ken Coogan’s charges have also been in decent form so far this campaign. They recovered from an opening round defeat to O’Loughlin’s with victories over Mullinavat and Clara. Their round 2 win over the Vegas Boys saw them hit an impressive 6-21 and they appear to have a strong spine through their team with Captain Paul Buggy between the sticks, Tommy & Padraig Walsh, Mossy Keoghan and Shane Walsh providing a strong core to this Sash side and will look at keep entertaining in their next two outings.
Brian Hogan will be expecting his O’Loughlin’s side to finish the group strongly, with upcoming games against Clara and Danesfort. Having begun with a comprehensive win over The Sash, they came up short in the city derby, going down by 3 points to Michael Walsh’s ‘Boro side. Hogan will look to his leaders, Mikey Butler, Paddy Deegan and Huw Lawlor to drive them on, knowing that the likes of Mark Bergin, Eoin O’Shea and the emerging duo of David Fogarty and Jordan Molloy are all capable of excelling.