MUCH was expected of this all-South junior hurling championship encounter in Mullinavat on Saturday afternoon. While Thomastown got the win that many fancied they would, the Grennan men have plenty to do if they have aspirations to appear in Nowlan Park on county finals day in October.
Thomastown raced into a two-point lead by the fourth minute. They were fast, concentrated and looked, even at those early times, the team most likely to succeed.
It became increasingly obvious that score-getting was going to present insurmountable problems for the respective attackers, such was the tenacity, and collective resistance of the respective defenders. Both sets of defenders practically suffocated their opposing forwards. It was not surprising indeed that the sides were level on six occasions during a frantic first half.
While Thomastown were expected to win this opener with a little to spare, the Kilmacow contingent were not without ambition or hope. After all, they have been hardy battlers down South for many seasons, and their development policy has been presenting admirably skilled young players for the senior mentors to work with. Maybe they are somewhat on the young side yet, but they will eventually make the step-up, and it won’t be too long before the men in green and white will be competing in a serious way for major county honours.
But this game was about getting to the next round of this year’s all-county junior championship.
While Jonjo Farrell opened the Thomastown account, Mike Sweeney and Sean Flynn were not too tardy in levelling the playing pitch with two smashing points by the sixth minute. Kilmacow ended the first quarter leading by the odd point in seven, but four unanswered points by Dylan Waugh (2), Dessie Walsh and Stuart Waugh had transferred the high ground to the ’Town by the 23rd minute.
Then, a Kilmacow attack in the 24th minute ended with wing-forward, Peter Mullally tearing a gap through the Thomastown defence to slam home a tremendous goal, pushing his team back in front by a single point.
Although Dylan Waugh levelled matters within two minutes, corner-forward Mike Sweeney slipped the Kilmacow men ahead again with a smashing point in the 25th minute. The Waugh brothers, Dylan and Stuart exchanged points with Sweeney before the break to leave the game all-tied up (Kilmacow 1-6, Thomastown 0-9).
The second half was equally as frantic as the first, with defences again dominating. The abilities of the Thomastown lads to grab scores from distance was probably instrumental in their getting the required win. Kilmacow were somewhat slack in that department.
Two superb points from a long distance by Darren Burke - the first in the 42nd minute, the other two minutes from time, proved to be a major bonus to a flagging Thomastown effort. Kilmacow never hesitated in their determination to drive forward for the badly needed win, but they found the likes of Brian Murphy, Sean Mahoney and Shane Lanigan quite an impediment to anticipated progress.
Dylan Waugh had an exemplary shooting record from placed balls, hitting eight between the Kilmacow posts, from a variety of distances and angles. Mind you Mike Sweeney was only marginally less successful for Kilmacow as he hit six frees.
By the three-quarter stage, Thomastown looked home and hosed, leading by 0-14 to Kilmacow’s 1-8. Both sides registered three points before the end game, giving Thomastown their ticket to take the next championship bus, while Kilmacow can hope for better things to happen for them in 2012 - le cuimhneamh Dé.
Thomastown - Dylan Walsh, Richard O’Hara, Brian Murphy, Mick Cullen, Sean Mahoney, Derek Lanigan, Shane Lanigan, Peter O’Hanrahan, Darren Burke (0-2), Dylan Waugh (0-8, frees), Jonjo Farrell (0-3) Dessie Walsh (0-1), Thomas O’Hanrahan (0-1), Stuart Waugh (0-2), Michael Donnelly. Subs: James Hoyne, David Prendergast, Barry Whelan.
Kilmacow - Richie O’Neill, Ray Hennessy, Tom Reddy, Robbie O’Keeffe, Brian Fleming, Luke Harney, Stephen O’Keeffe, James Connolly (0-1), Sean Flynn (0-1), Johnny Hayes, Peter Mullally (1-1), Willie O’Toole, Mike Sweeney (0-7, 0-6 frees), Richie McNamara, Paddy O’Keeffe. Subs: Mark McGuinness (0-1), Paul Laffan, Shay Dempsey (0-1), Denis Scully.