IT TOOK no more than 10 minutes for Tullaroan to learn their fate, that while their status as a senior hurling club was secure for another year at least; the season was over for them when beaten by 3-18 to 1-14 by O’Loughlin Gaels, writes John Knox.
O’Loughlin Gaels, assured and impressive, were in no mood for messing around at wet Tom Ryall Park on Sunday in this senior hurling championship first round clash. With barely 10 minutes gone they were already 1-3 to 0-2 clear, and but one outcome looked on the cards.
A good downpour during most of the opening half turned the pitch into a sliding zone and the ball into a heavy bundle, but it didn’t matter to the John Park’s outfit. Their hurling was good; their team work and concentration were of the high order. They meant business.
It was ‘Operation Quarter-Finals’ and nothing else. And despite losing midfielder, Maurice Nolan to injury early on, and later centre-forward, Niall McEvoy, they breezed into the last eight.
There was a tough edge to Tullaroan at times, but after sharing equally in four points during the opening nine minutes they began to go backwards. The winners lead point was shot by the stylish, excellent Mark Bergin, who finished neatly to the net moments later after the goalie failed to deal decisively with a long delivery from the very effective Martin Comerford (1-3 to 0-2).
Ripping opposition asunder
The winners were ripping the opposition asunder, and when Comerford was cut down by a nasty blow from a hurley moments later that might have been punished with a red card, they were awarded a penalty. Bergin’s low shot was turned over the bar.
Twice after that the teams traded points, but as the game edged into the second quarter young Bergin already had 1-5 in the scoring sack.
On a day like Sunday that was some going, but such was the movement and method about O’Loughlin’s play that the opposition were only holding on, with free taker Jimmy Coogan their only real source of scores.
Just on half time O’Loughlin’s plundered a second goal. This time Comerford used his experience to control the ball to the right of goal. His low shot was blocked by the ’keeper, but when the ball squirted up in the air sub David Burke rushed in to bat it into the net.
Half-time score: O’Loughlin’s 2-10, Tullaroan 0-7.
During the early stages of the second period Jimmy Coogan and Conor Bergin traded points before O’Loughlin’s scored a third goal to wrap-up the tie.
Corner-forward Conor Bergin showed good fight to win a ball driven across the goal by Martin Comerford before drilling a hole in the Tullaroan defence before shooting home from an angle on the right (3-11 to 0-8). Thirty-six minutes were showing on the clock. It was all over bar the shaping of the statistics.
Greater share of ball
Tullaroan won a greater share of the ball from here on, but it was hard to know was that born of an improvement in their play or did O’Loughlin’s lighten their foot on the pedal. Whatever, a well put away goal in the 60th minute by Mark Simpson, after fielding a delivery from Tommy Walsh, earned them a measure of respectability.
There was no doubting, this was O’Loughlin’s day, with Mark Bergin the brightest star, followed closely by a very lively Martin Comerford, the Kearns’ brothers, Brian Hogan and a host of others.
Scorers: O’Loughlin Gaels – Mark Bergin (1-11, seven points frees, two 65s’); Martin Comerford (0-4); Conor Bergin (1-1); David Burke (1-0); Niall McEvoy (0-1); Nigel Skehan (0-1, free). Tullaroan – Jimmy Coogan (0-9, frees); Mark Simpson (1-0); Padraig Walsh (0-3); Tommy Walsh, Martin Walsh (0-1 each).
O’Loughlin Gaels – Stephen Murphy, Brian Kelly, Andy Kearns, Eddie Kearns, Alan O’Brien, Brian Hogan, Paddy Butler, Niall Bergin, Maurice Nolan, Alan Geoghegan, Niall McEvoy, Mark Kelly, Mark Bergin, Martin Comerford, Conor Bergin. Subs – David Burke for Nolan (inj); Jack Nolan for McEvoy (inj); Danny Loughnane for M. Bergin; Nigel Skehan for Comerford.
Tullaroan – Richard Holland, Paddy Campion, Michael Maher, Eddie Campion, David Dowling, Stephen Maher, Richard Maher, Tommy Walsh, Ken Coogan, Padraig Walsh, Shane Cuddihy, Martin Walsh, Mark Walsh, Jimmy Coogan, Paul Buggy. Subs – Mark Simpson for D. Dowling; Peter Walsh for Martin Walsh.