THERE have been many great games between these keen rivals over the years. Unfortunately for the good sized crowd that turned up in Ballyragget on Sunday for this first round senior hurling championship clash, this was not one of them.
Erin’s Own (Castlecomer) went into this game as favourites, given the recent form of both sides. However, the Johnstown side upset the odds when they came from two points in arrears at the interval to record a narrow victory after a less than riveting encounter.
The strong swirling wind did little to help either side. Erin’s Own played with the aid of the awkward breeze in the opening half. They drew first blood when Gordon Byrne pointed after two minutes.
Kevin Reid, who scored seven points of his side’s total, equalised with a pointed free a minute later. Damien Fogarty restored the ’Comer side’s lead when he pointed a 60 metre free which was cancelled out by a similar score from Kevin Reid for Fenians to leave the sides all square at 0-2 each after five minutes.
Martin Boran then hit a great point from an awkward angle in the 10th minute to edge the losers ahead again. This time Eoin Sheil squared matters three minutes later.
That was to be the Johnstown side’s last score of the half. Erin’s Own fared little better. Despite having the lion’s share of possession their finishing was very poor at times and in the end this proved very costly.
They did salvage points through Martin Boran from a free that went in off the upright and another from play by Anthony Owens to leave the half time score: Erin’s Own 0-5, Fenians 0-3.
The winners upped their game considerably in the early stages of the new half. Within three minutes of the restart they had gone into a one point lead thanks to points from Eoin Shiel from play and two by the accurate Kevin Reid from frees.
Erin’s Own reasserted themselves and created a couple of good chances, but over elaborated in front of goal proved costly and some good work came to nothing. A Martin Boran point from a free levelled it all up again at 0-6 each in the 38th minute.
However, Fenians were battling hard at this stage. They won two frees in quick succession which Kevin Reid converted to put then 0-8 to 0-6 ahead.
A third long range effort from the same player fell just short and the ball was cleared by the Erin’s Own full-back Sean Meally. Erin’s Own were then awarded a free in the 50th minute which Martin Boran converted.
Had final say
That was to be the ’Comer side’s last score.
The Fenians had the final say when a clearance out of the ’Comer defence fell short. The sliotar eventually came to the man of the moment, Kevin Reid. He shot his side’s ninth and last score to leave Fenians narrow winners after a disappointing game.
The winners won’t mind. A place in the quarter-finals marks progress, serious progess during a difficult season when injuries threatened to hurt the club.
This defeat was a huge disappointment for Erin’s Own, who had been hoping to build on genuine progress made in recent seasons.
Fenians - P.J. Ryan, Cathal Ryan, J.J. Delaney, J.P. Grehan, John Henderson, Conor Tobin, Declan Brennan, Kevin Power, Ciaran Behan, John Broderick, Kevin Reid, Eoin Sheil, William Brennan, Darragh Tobin, Paul Quinlan. Sub - Kieran Grehan for W. Brennan 54 mins.
Erin’s Own - Tom Brophy, James Mullins, Sean Meally, Peter O Donovan, Aidan Moran, Damien Fogarty, Conor Fogarty, Jimmy Byrne, Ronan Ryan, Michael Murphy, Michael Owens, Donal Meally, Gordon Byrne, Anthony Owens, Martin Boran. Subs - Peader Boran for G. Byrne 37 mins; Stephen Daly for A. Owens 44 mins; Gerry Callinan for R. Ryan 55 mins.
Referee – Sean Cleere (O’Loughlin Gaels).