Dicksboro batter Sash to secure final berth
BY NIALL SHERRY, SPORTS EDITOR
St Canice’s Credit Union Senior Hurling League Championship
Glenmore 2-23 Bennettsbridge 2-17
Glenmore secured a spot in this year’s league final having seen off a determined challenge from Bennettsbridge on a very hot September afternoon at picturesque Inistioge. Tim Dooley will know that his side created enough chances over the hour to secure victory, but some wayward shooting in the opening period when then hit over 10 wide’s proved costly against Bob Aylward’s men who won by six points in the end.
The Bridge opened the scoring through Liam Blanchfield who gave a nice dummy before pointing from out on the left side. Glenmore’s response was instant, and it came from the impressive Cathal Beirne who picked up a long puck out before striding through the centre of the pitch and tapping over a nice score. The men from the deep south got the next score from senior panelist Ian Byrne to nudge them ahead in the early stages, but better was just around the corner.
Ethan Phelan used some clever soccer skills to emerge from a crowd of players before picking up the ball and heading for goal. The No.13 cut in along the endline before delivering a pass across goal where Ger Aylward applied the finishing touch for the game’s first major. Glenmore now led by four with the same number of minutes played. Nicky Cleere popped over a placed ball for the Bridge before some nice play between Cathal Beirne and Dean Croke saw the latter cleverly flick the sliotar to Alan Murphy who sent over a lovely point.
Midfielder Kevin Blanchfield then went on a strong run before striking over a classy effort from out on the right to reduce the deficit to a goal. The lively Ger Aylward then showed some lovely footwork tight to the right sideline before sending over a point from what appeared to be an impossible angle. The Blanchfield’s were heavily involved with lots across the pitch and Liam then got the better of his marker Eoin Aylward before splitting the posts for a fine score. Cathal Beirne then found himself unmarked in acres of space in centre-field and showed nice composure to rifle over a cracking point from distance.
Jason Cleere and Shane Murphy exchanged points before The Bridge got right back into the game. Some direct running through the heart of the Glenmore defence saw the ball slipped to Liam Blanchfield who struck his shot past keeper Mikey Kirwan to make it a two-point game with 22 minutes played. Bob Aylward’s charges then hit a brace from play, both lovely efforts from Ger Aylward but the Bridge hit back with two of their own from Jason Cleere and another classy effort from Kevin Blanchfield.
Ger Aylward then took a short sideline cut to Ian Byrne who popped the pass back to him to allow Ger to fire over from out wide. Rising star Dean Croke then got on the scoreboard with a tidy finish before the final two scores of the opening period arrived, both for The Bridge with a placed ball from Nicky Cleere and a well-taken effort from Ciaran Brennan to leave the score at halftime, Glenmore 1-11, Bennettsbridge 1-9.
Tim Dooley and Dan Shanahan must have discussed their sides horrible wide count in the first half, as the Bridge came out all guns blazing with improved radar in the second period. The men in stripes hit the first three scores after the interval, a brace of frees from Nicky Cleere and a fine point from Jason Cleere after some good work from Sean Morrissey.
One of Glenmore’s most impressive and consistent performers this season, Cathal Beirne then went on a magical run which deserved a green flag raising, but Bennettsbridge keeper Enda Cleere produced a good stop to deny the wing forward’s goal attempt. This appeared to rouse the Bridge men and almost immediately they went down the field and struck a second major of their own. The ball was worked to Sean Morrissey who cut in from the left before drawing a great save from Mikey Kirwan. Unfortunately for the Glenmore stopper, the loose sliotar was struck to the net by the alert Hugh O’Neill. Bennettsbridge now led by four.
The Group A leaders needed to respond, and they raised a white flag following a fine effort from Cathal Beirne, again from close to the sideline. With Waterford veteran Shanahan prowling up and down the line, on and off the pitch, the Bridge then reeled off another 3-point burst. Nicky Cleere was first up with a free, following a foul on David Blanchfield and they built on this with two lovely points from play courtesy of Jason Cleere and Sean Morrissey, who was heavily involved in the former’s score to increase their teams lead to six points.
It looked like Bennettsbridge were in total control at this stage of the game and looking likely victors. Perhaps Glenmore’s surprising defeat a week earlier to Graigue Ballycallan had taken the wind out of their sails, but they are made of strong stuff in south Kilkenny. The next six scores would come from Boy Aylward’s men. Alan Murphy, who loves the battle, won and converted a brace of frees while Ian Byrne came alive and hit two quality points from play.
The fifth of the Glenmore 6-in-a-row was to be a major score, in all senses of the word. Ian Byrne picked up the ball and gave a nice long pass to the ever-moving Ger Aylward who accelerated away from his marker and cut in along the endline. The clever forward made a better angle for his shot before he struck for goal. The sliotar struck the crossbar and rebounded into the path of the supporting Ethan Phelan who slotted home from close range. Glenmore were now back in the lead in a really entertaining game. Shane Murphy then struck over a beautiful point from tight to the right sideline, but the Bridge made it a 1-point game shortly after, thanks to a free from Nicky Cleere.
Alan Murphy then split the posts with a free after goal scorer Ethan Phelan was fouled while Bennettsbridge replied with a placed ball of their own from that man Nicky Cleere. That would be his side’s final score of the game.
Ger Aylward then struck a fine point after taking a nice pass from Alan Murphy who made it a 3-point game when he stroked over a free moments later. Any thoughts of a Bridge late show were quelled when Ethan Phelan found Alan Murphy who finished the move in style with a tidy point. The Bridge restart could only find Ian Byrne who took the catch, powered forward before dispatching another quality score, much to the delight of the Glenmore supporters. The final score came in injury time when sub Charlie Phelan produced some good work before passing to Cathal Beirne who pointed and celebrated knowing his team had secured the victory. Full time in Inistioge, Glenmore 2-23, Bennettsbridge 2-17.
St Canice’s Credit Union Senior Hurling League Championship – What’s next
Five rounds of pulsating action across two groups, and now the lay of the land is a little clearer.
The league decider will see group winners Glenmore take on Dicksboro, while the Shield final will be a city derby battle between James Stephens and O’Loughlin Gaels. Four of our senior sides go straight through to round 1 of the championship with Tullaroan facing Bennettsbridge and Clara meeting Graigue Ballycallan.
The four sides involved in more precarious situations and battling against relegation sees Erins Own tackle Mullinavat and Danesfort locking horns with Shamrocks Ballyhale.
All fixtures are scheduled for next weekend, meaning teams will have had 2 weeks preparation as we enter the business end of the club scene within the County.
Michael Lyng Motors Hyundai Kilkenny Intermediate Hurling League
This weekend will see our intermediate sides bid for glory and trying to avoid relegation.
The two standout teams from the group stages, Thomastown and Lisdowney will clash in the league final while the Shield decider sees an intriguing encounter between the second placed sides, with St Martin’s facing Dunnamaggin.
The four sides involved in first round championship action will see Mooncoin battle with Blacks and Whites while Rower Inistioge vs Young Irelands promises to be a lively tussle.
Relegation to junior level is never nice, and the Relegation semi-final/Championship first round ties will see Carrickshock clash with Fenians and Conahy Shamrocks battle with O’Loughlin Gaels.