Hogan’s men set for semi clash in Tullamore
BY NIALL SHERRY, SPORTS EDITOR
Leinster GAA AIB Senior Club Hurling Championship Quarter Final
Netwatch Cullen Park,
Referee: Eamon Furlong (Wexford)
Mount Leinster Rangers 0-13
O’Loughlin Gaels 2-16
O’Loughlin Gaels first match in the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship since 2016 ended in a comprehensive win for the Kilkenny champions as they dismantled the challenge of Mount Leinster Rangers in front of a big crowd at Netwatch Cullen Park. Brian Hogan’s charges came out of the traps quickly and had breached the MLR net inside the first five minutes and were in control for much of the game and despite a spirited third quarter push by the Carlow champions had nine points to spare at the long whistle. A semi-final now awaits against Offaly kingpins Kilcormac-Killoughey next weekend.
The impressive Mark Bergin gave another captain’s performance and opened the scoring with a nice point from play in the first minute after taking a pass from the hard-working Conor Heary. Paul O’Brien’s side were level shortly after when talisman Chris Nolan fired over the first of his nine-point haul from the placed ball.
The next score was to set the tone for the rest of the opening period. Owen Wall picked up possession and headed for goal, a touch of clever movement beating his marker, Michael Doyle before shortening his grip and batting the ball past the returning Dean Grennan in the MLR goal. Mark Bergin split the posts with his first dead ball of the day seconds later as the Noresiders moved into an early 4-point lead. No.14 Paddy Butler then benefited from his side turning over the ball to register a fine point as the visitors looked in complete control.
Chris Nolan struck his and his sides second point of the day, again from the placed ball on 9 minutes before the Loughs hit 3 scores on the bounce, thanks to a brace from midfielder Jack Nolan and a rare point from defender and county star Mikey Butler as Hogan’s men pulled seven points clear. Not to be outdone by his brother, Jon Nolan doubled the number of MLR scorers in the 17th minute after taking a lovely pass from midfielder Fiachra Fitzpatrick.
The Carlow champions were also guilty of hitting some poor wides and coughing up possession too easily as their long lay-off appeared to be affecting their first touch and decision making when it mattered most.
O’Loughlin’s then hit another hat-trick of scores, this time a brace from captain Bergin (1f) and a cracking point from midfielder Cian Loy and the lead quickly grew to nine points with about three minutes of the first half remaining. There would be two more scores before the short whistle, a lovely strike by that man Chris Nolan and another Mark Bergin placed ball as the St James Park side went into the interval with a commanding nine-point lead.
MLR Boss Paul O’Brien no doubt let his side know how disappointed he would have been with the opening 30 minutes and their wastefulness as he sought to halt the Kilkenny sides seemingly untroubled passage to their 9-point advantage. The Carlow side made one change at the break with Paul Coady replacing Ted Joyce in the forward line as they hoped to trouble the scoreboard more often in the second period.
The Borris club started brightly, and it needed a timely if rather crude intervention from Eoin O’Shea to prevent a possible goal scoring opportunity for the home side. O’Shea saw yellow for his trouble, while Chris Nolan popped over the resulting free. Another Nolan raised a white flag from the restart, this time Loughs midfielder Jack with his third effort of the day.
The Nolan’s were having a big impact on the quarter-final, and brothers Chris and Jon added to their sides lively start to the second half as the gap was now down to seven. Then came an interesting moment in the contest, the second MLR substitution. Diarmuid Byrne was sprung from the bench but according to the officials, entered the field of play too soon and as a result was booked for his enthusiasm. Rangers got the next score as well, another placed ball from the reliable Chris Nolan.
Cian Loy then put in a hefty challenge and saw yellow, when the MLR bench and supporters were shouting for red. The Loughs midfielder did leave the field, but it was due to a blood injury and was replaced for the remainder of the game by Jamie Ryan. Mark Bergin then struck over a cracking point, his sides first in about 13 minutes to settle his supporters nerves in Netwatch Cullen Park.
O’Loughlin’s were then guilty of some sloppy play as they conceded a flurry of fouls over the next five minutes and were duly punished by Chris Nolan’s unairing accuracy as the Kilkenny sides lead was now down to just four points as the game entered the final ten minutes. Any hopes of a MLR comeback were dealt a huge blow in the 53rd minute when sub Diarmuid Byrne picked up a second yellow card which left his side down to 14 men.
Mark Bergin popped over a placed ball which Jon Nolan cancelled out immediately when he fired over a sweet long-range effort for this third of the day. The Loughs captain then rifled over a quality score before the second major of the day arrived, again for the visitors. Sub Luke Hogan powered forward and past Jack Murphy before unleashing a fierce low shot that left Dean Grennan with no chance as the travelling Kilkenny support celebrated and started planning for a semi-final trip to Tullamore. Mark Bergin then fired over a superb point from play before another of the MLR subs, Dean Tobin struck the home side’s last point, but there was still time for three more scores for the Kilkenny champs.
Conor Heary, who had assisted others and put in a serious shift all over the park hit two quality efforts to add to one further free from his captain, Mark Bergin as he finished his days work with 0-8. Wexford whistler Eamon Furlong sounded the long whistle which signaled a thoroughly deserved 9-point win for the Kilkenny city side. Final score at Netwatch Cullen Park, MLR 0-13, O’Loughlin Gaels 2-16.
O’Loughlin Gaels scorers: Mark Bergin (0-8, 4 frees, 1 65); Owen Wall, Luke Hogan (1-0), Jack Nolan (0-3), Conor Heary (0-2), Paddy Butler, Mikey Butler, Cian Loy (0-1).
Mount Leinster Rangers scorers: Chris Nolan (0-9, 6f, 1 65), Jon Nolan (0-3), Dean Tobin (0-1).
O’Loughlin Gaels: Stephen Murphy; Mikey Butler, Huw Lawlor, Anthony Forrestal; David Fogarty, Paddy Deegan, Jordan Molloy; Jack Nolan, Cian Loy; Conor Heary, Mark Bergin, Eoin O’Shea; Owen Wall, Paddy Butler, Sean Bolger.
Subs: Luke Hogan for O’Shea (38), Jamie Ryan for Loy (45-f/t blood), Conor Kelly for Paddy Butler (51), Kevin Murphy for Jack Nolan (58).
Mount Leinster Rangers: Dean Grennan; Sean Joyce, Jack Murphy, Michael Doyle; Tony Lawlor, Kevin McDonald, Richard Coady; Fiachra Fitzpatrick, Evan Kealy; Ted Joyce, Donagh Murphy, Jon Nolan; Ciaran Kavanagh, Edward Byrne, Chris Nolan.
Subs: Paul Coady for Ted Joyce (h/t), Diarmuid Byrne for Lawlor (41), Dean Tobin for Edward Byrne (51), Tim Brennan for Kavanagh (57), Michael Malone for Kealy (61).
Referee: Eamon Furlong (Wexford)
• Congratulations to our Junior and Intermediate sides, Tullogher Rosbercon and Thomastown who secured their passages to provincial semi-finals with victories over Colt Shanahoe and Cloughbawn respectively.
Walter Walsh was in good form as his side ran up an impressive total of 5-26 as they totally overpowered their Laois opponents who only managed to register two scores in a disappointing showing. The Kilkenny junior champions will now face Wexford side Fr O`Regans Craanford at St. Patrick’s Park Enniscorthy next Saturday.
Meanwhile Noreside intermediate champions Thomastown were always in command against Clonroche based Wexford side Cloughbawn, emerging 14-point winners at Bellefield. Noel Doherty’s side will now take on Meath’s Kildalkey at Páirc Tailteann also, on Saturday.