SILVERWARE in the cabinet and plenty of powder kept dry. Those were the high points of what proved to be a successful Saturday for the Rower-Inistioge when they beat St Patrrick’s (Ballyragget) by 2-11 to 2-10, writes Trevor Spillane.
A second half scoring flurry proved vital as men from South of the Nore wrapped up the intermediate hurling league Shield title, getting the better of St Patrick’s (Ballyragget) in Bennettsbridge on Saturday.
In a blinding nine minute burst, the Rower rattled off an impressive 2-3 as, led by Michael Grace, they took the game by the scruff of the neck.
The corner-forward had been quiet for most of the game, but cut loose with a swift 1-3 that helped swing the game his side’s way.
Grace’s opener was emphatic, grabbing a J.J. Kenny 65 that dropped short and rifling it past Michael Gannon in the 39th minute. With his confidence soaring, he added a point from way out on the right, then another from a tighter angle, before crossing into the left corner and splitting the scoreboard end posts after latching on to a breaking ball.
Grace’s salvo was swiftly followed by a second Rower goal. Ciaran Ryan was the architect, fighting hard to win possession before breaking towards goal and setting up Richie Ryan to rattle the net. In the space of 14 minutes Inistioge had come from four points down to five in front (2-9 to 1-7).
It was a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for Pat O’Neill’s side, who started without several of what you could consider their big-hitters, not least captain Kieran Joyce, Joe Lyng and Paul Sheehan.
It seemed a gamble, but with the safety net of a berth in the championship quarter-finals safely stowed away the Inistioge selectors used the game as an opportunity to shuffle their pack.
The move didn’t start out well - they trailed by two points (0-3 to 0-1) after the first quarter and hit five wides in the process. Although Ryan and James Cassin (free) soon found their mark the Rower were behind again on 21 minutes, Conor Delaney netting after Liam Tierney lost possession while trying to clear a dangerous ball from his goalmouth.
Inistioge did have better luck in the closing stages of the half - both Tommy Murphy and Ciaran Ryan grabbed impressive points - a fine score after a speedy solo from Kevin Kelly ensured the Saints marched into the interval with the lead (1-4 to 0-6).
The Ballyragget men came out of the blocks a little faster than their rivals in the second half. Early points from Joe Brennan and Kevin Kelly helped them build a bigger lead, but their charge seemed to falter after Brennan was forced to leave the fray with an injury he suffered while scoring his second point of the half on 35 minutes (1-7 to 0-6).
The loss of Brennan from their forwards, coupled with the Rower’s quickfire 2-3, checked the Ballyragget side’s momentum.
The game wasn’t completely gone from them, however. Kevin Kelly led a late charge when he helped himself to 1-2 late on, the goal coming when he flashed a loose ball past Tierney, but they couldn’t find that last point needed to deny the Rower the spoils.
SCORERS: Rower-Inistioge - Michael Grace (1-4); Richie Ryan (1-1); James Cassin (0-3, 0-1 free); Tommy Murphy (0-2); Ciaran Ryan (0-1). St Patrick’s - Kevin Kelly (1-4, 0-2 frees); Conor Delaney (1-1); Joe Brennan (0-3); Brian Phelan, Bill Staunton (0-1 each).
Rower-Inistioge - L. Tierney, E. Doyle, J. Doyle, T. Grace, P. Fleming, R. Galavan, T. Leahy, T. Murphy, S. Lyster, D. Lyng, J. Cassin, C. Ryan, M. Grace, J.J. Kenny, R. Ryan. Subs: D. Tennyson for Fleming (inj), 5 mins; N. Lyng for R. Ryan, 53 mins; L. Tennyson for T. Murphy, 58 mins.
St Patrick’s - M. Gannon, J. Mooney, G. Morrissey, R. Healy, J. Gannon, G. Brennan, B. Mulhall, B. Phelan, K. Delaney, B. Staunton, K. Kelly, J. Brennan, C. Delaney, M. Brennan, E. Bergin. Subs: J. Phelan for J. Brennan (inj), 35 mins; J. Morrissey for Delaney, 42 mins; S. Mooney for M. Brennan, 51 mins; C. Foley for B. Staunton, 58 mins.
Referee - E. Crowley (Mooncoin).