THERE is no arguing with a 17 point margin of victory and the final scoreline from this one-sided Leinster club junior hurling championship second round tie at Dr Cullen Park, Carlow on Saturday, provided an accurate reflection of the overall superiority enjoyed by St Patrick’s of Ballyragget over Carlow Town.
The Kilkenny junior champions could afford to lose the services of team captain Kieran Delaney on 19 minutes to a straight red card and still dominate the game to such an extent that the loss of a man was hardly noticed.
Carlow Town came into this game having beaten Maynooth of Kildare. But here they were taking on opponents many notches in class above the Lilywhite champions.
Although Carlow’s speedy left half forward Cian Clancy gained possession to point within 15 seconds of the throw-in, the trend of the game quickly became apparent once the sides had traded three points apiece after 12 minutes.
Composed in defence, where full back Geoff Morrissey and centre back Geoff Brennan quickly established dominance, the north Kilkenny side started to pull away from the home side. Brian ‘Brooky’ Phelan and James Gannon got on top in midfield and the forwards started to find gaps in the Carlow defence.
Ideal target man
Former Kilkenny All-Ireland minor star Joe Brennan, at left full forward, was an ideal target man for the men in maroon, and was to finish with a personal tally of 1-4, all from play. Two points from the classy No 15 and a lovely effort from wing forward Kevin Kelly saw the ‘saints’ into a double scores lead (0-6 to 0-3) by the 27th minute and a further spate of unanswered white flags saw the visitors into a comfortable 0-10 to 0-3 interval lead, right corner forward Conor Delaney bringing his side into double scores in first half injury time.
The dismissal of Kieran Delaney, the St Patrick’s right half back for dangerous play and looked harsh but Carlow were totally unable to make any use of deploying the extra man. They struggled all over the field with their established players like Barry English, Ruairi Dunbar and Cian Clancy failing to leave any significant impact.
The second half was a stroll for St Patrick’s as they outscored their opponents by 2-7 to 0-3, with no significant threat to their goal at any stage.
It was very much a case of taking your points and the goals looking after themselves for the Kilkenny junior champions. They had pulled 0-13 to 0-3 ahead before Ruairi Dunbar pointed a free for the home side, who had gone a full half hour without raising a flag. Dunbar immediately followed up with another pointed free.
Fine Brennan goal
But on 53 minutes Joe Brennan raced through to score a fine goal and with the Ballyragget side running in four second half substitutes, it was one of those subs – Sean Mooney - who finished to the net for their second goal on 57 minutes, after taking a pass from Alan Ruth, another second half substitute.
An easy victory then for St Patrick’s who look a talented side capable at least of contesting provincial honours. With a very strong spine to their side St Patrick’s looked, overall, a well-balanced side playing an attractive brand of hurling.
A total of nine players shared in the winner’s tally, all six starting forwards, both midfielders and subsitute Sean Mooney. Further back Geoff Brennan’s commanding performance at the heart of the defence blotted out the threat of Carlow’s danger man and county senior player Ruairi Dunbar, whose three points came from placed balls. Corner backs John Mooney and Steve Staunton provided excellent support for excellent full back Geoff Morrissey while a contribution of 0-6 from wing half forward Kevin Kelly was also worthy of note.
St Patrick’s will not read too much into this win in the knowledge that sterner tests lie ahead. The loss of captain Delaney will be their biggest worry.
Scorers: St Patrick’s: J Brennan 1-4, K Kelly, 0-6, 0-5 frees, S Mooney 1-0, C Delaney 0-2, J Phelan, B Phelan, J Gannon, B Staunton, S Kenny 0-1 each. Carlow Town: R Dunbar, 0-3, all frees, C Clancy 0-2, P McElligott 0-1.
St Patrick’s - M Gannon; J Mooney, G Morrissey, S Staunton; K Delaney, G Brennan, S Roberts; B Phelan, J Gannon; J Phelan, S Kenny, K Kelly; C Delaney, B Staunton, J Brennan. Subs: P Cahill for J Phelan (45); A Ruth for Delaney (50); J Morrissey for Roberts (51); S Mooney for Kelly (53); L Lacey for M Gannon (57).
Carlow Town - S McCormack; S Conlon, E Dalton, B Connolly; C Lawlor, B English, K Moran; K English, P McElligott; R Moore, R Dunbar, C Clancy; S Minnock, S McMahon, D O’Brien. Subs: C Walsh for Dalton (h/t); N Ryan for O’Brien (48); B Hennessy for Lawlor (52); V O’Toole for Minnock (59); C Dunbar for Hennessy (60).
Referee - Justin Heffernan (Wexford).