BY NIALL SHERRY
Ballyhale edge Erins Own as O’Loughlin’s take city bragging rights
Another weekend of club hurling is done and dusted as the league get set for final round fixtures.
Last Friday night Mullinavat surprised some by defeating Clara by 4 points at a sun-drenched Thomastown.
Willie O’Dwyer’s major in the opening period proved decisive along with a 10-point haul for John Walsh as they derailed Clara’s bid to hold onto top spot in Group A.
Next up for the Vegas Boys is a round 5 game against Erins Own, while Clara will want to get back to winning ways when they face bottom of the table Lisdowney in Jenkinstown on Sunday.
Lisdowney’s difficult season continued when they slumped to an 11-point defeat at the hands of Tullaroan at Pairc Lachtain last Saturday. Marksmen Shane Walsh and Dylan Simpson notched 1-17 between them and were key to the Sash’s victory. It’s worth noting that 1-12 of this tally came from play. Lisdowney were well in the game until the interval, only trailing by one point. Indeed it would be Simpson’s major that help Tullaroan pull away from their opponents and in the end cruise to victory.
As mentioned, Lisdowney will face Clara next, while the much-anticipated clash between Tullaroan and Shamrocks Ballyhale will attract many Gaels to John Locke Park on Sunday.
Talking of Ballyhale, Pat Hoban’s team navigated a tricky test against Niall Rigney’s Erins Own at headquarters. It would take a couple of late scores from county star Eoin Cody to get Shamrocks over the line after his side came back from 3 points down to snatch victory at UPMC Nowlan Park.
Early on it appeared that this would be a routine win for Ballyhale, as Liam Barron, and county men Adrian Mullen and Eoin Cody fired them into a 5-point lead. A brace of scores from both Stephen Daly and Niall McMahon, along with one from Declan Dunne, saw the Castlecomer men keep in in touch
The Lively Stephen Daly who was impressive throughout, along with Jack Buggy put Erins Own 3 points up, but scores from the Corcoran’s, Darragh and Ronan and eventual match winner Eoin Cody saw Shamrocks level as the game entered additional time. Step forward twice crowned Young Hurler of the Year Eoin Cody who tagged on those two crucial scores to secure maximum points.
Erins Own will look to finish on a high when then face-off against Mullinavat at Gowran on Sunday. Shamrocks Ballyhale will go toe-to-toe with Tullaroan in a possible group-topping encounter at John Locke Park. This one could be a cracker.
Round 4’s games started with a cracking game in Inistioge, where Intermediate champions Glenmore took on the challenge of last season’s League winners, Bennettsbridge. A high-scoring affair saw the Bridge take the honours with a 5-point win.
A penalty from David Blanchfield midway through the second period gave his side a 3-point lead which they never surrendered. Free taker, Nicky Cleere was in imperious form and also raised a green flag, and along with Sean Morrisey who was a constant threat throughout.
Glenmore have two wins and two defeats from their four games to date, and will round off the campaign with a tough fixture with O’Loughlin Gaels in Thomastown on Sunday. Bennettsbridge will look to maintain their 100% record when the play winless Graigue-Ballycallan in Dunnamaggin.
Dicksboro proved far too strong for Graigue-Ballycallan when the sides met at John Locke Park last weekend. The 15-point winning margin didn’t flatter the Palmerstown outfit as they cemented second place in Group B. Dicksboro were 7-points up at the short whistle and powered on in the second period, hitting 3 majors to ensure the result in Callan was never in doubt.
UPMC Nowlan Park will play host to Dicksboro’s final round match with James Stephens, who will be hoping that Bennettsbridge take care of their business against Graigue-Ballycallan to ensure there’s no relegation issues at the final whistle.
Despite the great Brian Cody helping out along the sideline, The Village came up short against O’Loughlin’s at UPMC Nowlan Park. Both sides were guilty of striking some bad wides, and hit nearly 30 between them of the course of the game.
Paddy Deegan had put O’Loughlin’s 5-points ahead, before Matthew Ruth struck a major to reduce the deficit to three points at the short whistle.
Mark Bergin’s impressive placed ball striking saw The Loughs moved into a 5-point lead with just under 20 minutes remaining before the lively Sean Bolger raised a green flag to put the result beyond doubt.
Things did get a little nervy for O’Loughlin’s when Luke Scanlon struck a hard low shot to the net, but further scores from Conor Heary and Conor Kelly along with top scorer Mark Bergin saw Andy Comerford’s men home in the derby.
Tullaroan’s clash with Shamrocks Ballyhale in Callan could be a classic. The form of Shane Walsh and Dylan Simpson has been impressive and they will no doubt look to continue this when they meet Pat Hoban’s side on Sunday. How the Shamrocks defence copes with the above named players, along with the goal threat that is Mossy Keoghan will be crucial to the outcome of this encounter.
Eoin Cody and Adrian Mullen have looked sharp while Eoin Kenneally has impressed so far. Brian Cody and Ronan Corcoran will provide much needed drive so you can bet that Padraig Walsh will look to curb this from his half-back position.
This game will surely whet the appetite for championship hurling. Expect a big crowd in Callan.