BY NIALL SHERRY
Naas await in semi showdown
AIB Leinster Intermediate Hurling Championship
Ballinakill 1-12 Glenmore 2-17 @ Abbeyleix, Saturday November 27th
Goals win games, and that proved to be the case at a very cold Abbeyleix last Saturday, when Laois champions Ballinakill faced-off against Glenmore for a place in the provincial semi-final.
Majors from substitute David Burke and captain fantastic Ger Aylward ensure that the Glen prevailed against a spirited Ballinakill.
The Laois champions, minus the missing county star Cha Dwyer, had staged a major comeback in both halves of their round one game against Westmeath side Cullion in Mullingar a week earlier, but found the quality for this Glenmore a bridge too far.
Declan Wall’s side came out of the traps quickly, and wasted no time in putting a marker down against their less fancied opponents. Alan Murphy slotted over the first score of the day from a free, before adding a monstrous second, only 30 yards from his own goal! This also gave an indication of the wind with which the Kilkenny side were playing with in the first half.
Midfielder Philly Roche struck a lovely point from around half-way, following a nice side line cut from Alan Murphy. Eight minutes gone Glenmore 3 points to no score ahead. Mikey Kirwan then took a puck-out that landed in on top of the full-forward line. Ian Byrne challenged for possession before the ball broke to Ger Aylward, who from tight-out on the left struck a lovely point. The same player repeated the feat a minute later when he collected the ball following a mistake from his marker and slotted over from about 50 yards out on the left. 11 minutes gone, Declan Wall’s side 0-5 to no score.
The Laois champions were really struggling to get into the game, largely due to work-rate and hunger of the Glenmore side. Indeed, it took Ballinakill some fifteen minutes to open their account, from a close-range free, courtesy of corner-forward TJ Lalor. The same player would double his side’s total a minute later, again from the placed ball.
Not to be outdone by his midfield partner, Billy Reid than collected the ball superbly, out on th left touchline, before swinging over a cracking point. Eoin Murphy then intercepted a pass from Ballinakill defender, before striking a beautiful score from about 55 yards out, to leave Glenmore 0-7 to 0-2 ahead at the first water-break.
Seamus Dowling must have had a few strong words with his charges, as they looked a different animal after the short break. They began to hurl with much more confidence and the swagger of a team that were Laois Premier Intermediate champions. Ballinakill would actually go on to win the second quarter, 4 points to 2. First up for the home side was Jamie Drury, who knocked over a nice point from wide out on the right, for his team’s third score. Glenmore responded, and from the next attack, a great hook by Ian Byrne allowed Mark Aylward to pick up the loose ball before shooting over for a timely score.
Ballinakill came down the field and worked the ball from left to right, before Lir McDonald pointed from a central position to fire over. Then wing-back and Shane Murphy was fouled on his own ‘65, which gave his brother, Alan a chance to point from the placed ball, which he took advantage of. From the puck-out, the Laois side won possession and made in-roads towards the Glenmore goal. They slipped the pass to Cian O’Shaughnessy, who despite coming under fierce pressure, managed to fire over a stunning point. TJ Lalor then won and converted a free to leave his side trailing by 3 points. Despite a little more huffing and puffing from both sides, no more scores were added in the remainder of the half, and as Offaly referee Adam Kinahan blew for the interval, Glenmore lead 0-9 to 0-6.
Having played with a very strong wind in the first half, Declan Wall would probably been a little disappointed to be only 3 points up at the break. On the other hand, Seamus Dowling would have been pleased to be only one score in arrears, given it took 15 minutes for his side to raise their first flag.
When play resumed at an extremely windy Abbeyleix, Ballinakill drew first blood, corner-back Noel Duggan struck a lovely point after emerging from a huddle of players with the ball. Things would improve significantly for the Laois Champions a few minutes later, when after a Lir McDonald sideline cut into the danger zone, resulted in a little pinball, before wing-forward Cian O’Shaughnessy riffled the loose ball past Mikey Kirwan to the back of the net and gave his side the lead for the first time in the game, 1-7 to 0-9. The underdogs were thriving, and starting to think an upset may have been on the cards.
Alan Murphy then struck a lovely free low and over the bar to tie the game. The same man would put his side back in front with a stunning long range placed ball. Alan would then pick out his captain with a lovely pass, which gave him the time to slot over a tasty point. Glenmore seemed to have been spurred on by their opponent’s goal, and were starting to play the hurling we know they are capable of.
This was evident with their next score. Great play from Colm Doherty was the ball slipped to Mark Aylward who drove forward and played the ball into corner-forward Ian Byrne, who managed to find the supporting run of Philly Roche, who pointed from out on the right, much to the delight of the traveling Glenmore faithful. Liam Hennessey, who had been a lot more subdued, won possession from a long Kirwan free, before battling hard and eventually, winning a free from just outside the ‘21, which Alan Murphy dispatched between the posts, to push his side’s lead to 4 points.
Glenmore then won a sideline cut on the Ballinakill ‘65. Alan Muphy took it short, and Philly Roche did well to touch the ball into the path of the on-running Eoin Muphy, who burst through like a steam train before passing to Mark Aylward, whose shot was well blocked by the keeper. Substitute David Burke was quick on the scene and struck to the net for his sides first major. Declan Wall’s men held a 7-point lead as the referee signaled the second water break, 1-14 to 1-7. The quality of the Noreside team was now in full effect.
To their credit, Seamus Dowling’s men kept plugging away, and got their first score in almost 10 minutes, when Ian Shanahan fired over a point, followed by scores from Sean Downey and TJ Lalor. Alan Murphy then pointed his sides 15th point, to leave the score 1-15 to 1-10 with just under 10 minutes left on the clock. Lalor then popped over a routine free following a yellow card for Eoin Aylward.
Glenmore then struck for their second major of the day. A Ballinakill sideline cut was intercepted by substitute Ethan Phelan, who took possession before arrowing a lovely pass into his captain Ger Aylward. Ger collected the pass brilliantly before turning his marker and riffling across the keeper and into the net.
There was still time for Phelan to get his name on the score sheet, when his keeper found Cathal Beirne, who flicked the ball beautifully into the path of Ethan Phelan, who struck over for his sides final point.
From the puck out, referee Adam Kinahan blew for full-time. A provincial semi-final now awaits the men from Glenmore.
Scorers: TJ Lalor 0-5 frees, Cian O’Shaughnessy 1-1, Sean Downey 0-2 (0-1 free), Noel Duggan, Ian Shanahan, Lir McDonald, Jamie Drury 0-1 each.
Team: Paul Simms; Noel Duggan, Brian O’Mara, Mark Kehoe; Ian Shanahan, Sean Downey, Michael Moran; Lir McDonald, Padraig Lawlor; Jamie Drury, Seamus Fitzpatrick, Cian O’Shaughnessy; Evan Dunne, Eddie Dwyer, TJ Lalor. Subs: Cathal O’Shaughnessy for Evan Dunne (temp), Dan Bergin for Jamie Drury (41), Dylan Byrne Gray for Eddie Dwyer (46m)
Scorers: Alan Murphy 0-8 frees, Ger Aylward 1-3, David Burke 1-0, Philly Roche 0-2, Billy Reid, Eoin Murphy, Mark Aylward, Ethan Phelan 0-1 each.
Team: Michael Kirwan; Sean Duggan, Eoin Aylward, Shane Doherty; Colm Doherty, Eoin Murphy, Shane Murphy; Philly Roche, Billy Reid; Mark Aylward, Liam Hennessy, Alan Murphy; Robbie Fitzgerald, Ger Aylward, Ian Byrne. Subs: Subs: David Burke for Reid, Ethan Phelan for Byrne, Darragh Hartley for Roche, Cathal Beirne for M Aylward, Richie Hennessy for Fitzgerald
Referee: Adam Kinahan (Offaly)
>> SHERRY SAYS………..
For large parts of this game, Glenmore probably didn’t hit the heights that they know they can, but it was all about the result in this dogged provincial quarter-final in Abbeyleix on a bitterly cold Saturday in winter.
Look, Glenmore were worthy winners. Their quality was on display at intervals throughout the game. When they played with courage and at a higher tempo, their Laois opponents, couldn’t cope with them.
Yes, they know that they will have to perhaps go through the gears a little quicker next time out, but to be honest, even when Ballinakill went in front for the first time in the game, I never feared for the men from the Glen.
Classy captain Ger Aylward took his goal beautifully. Alan Murphy was accurate from the placed ball. Robbie Fitz’, Mark Aylward and Ian Byrne were busy. For me, it was the performance of Shane Murphy at wing-back, that was the pick of the winning side’s charges. He won ball, he broke ball, he covered gaps and he led by example.
The boys from the bench made a difference when they entered the battleground. Mikey Kirwan, who took over the net minding duties from Thomas Dunne, as calm and accurate from the puck-out.
Eoin Murphy was again in the thick of it from No.6. following TJ Reid’s nuptials, the day before. (Congratulations by the way TJ – a wee honeymoon trip to Carlow for you next week!)
Back to Glenmore. Declan Wall’s side will now face the stiff challenge of Naas in a week’s time, with a place in the provincial decider at stake. His panel will have been nursing the knocks and preparing for the Kildare men’s threat. They will have learned from last week’s victory, but have a bigger prize in their sights.