Two goals from corner-forward, Jimmy Byrne, scored over half an hour apart, proved vitally important when Erin’s Own (Castlecomer) put the utter disappointment of a first round collapse behind them and scored a morale-boosting 2-6 to 0-11 win in the senior hurling league.
It was never easy for the winners against All-Ireland intermediate champions Clara, writes John Knox. Despite falling below the level attained in the first round, they were still chasing for a share of the spoils beyond regular time at Nowlan Park on Sunday.
With 62 minutes showing on the clock a foul on Jack Langton offered Clara’s top scorer, Keith Hogan, the chance of an easy point from the free 50 metres free in front of the posts, or to lob the ball into the square and hope for the best. Hogan took the former option, but although play drifted on for an additional two minutes, another scoring chance never presented itself.
And so Erin’s Own, who finished with 14 men after fine performer, Martin Boran, was dismissed for a second yellow car offence in the 54th minute, hung on to get the win that has their season up and running. All credit to the winners, they never showed for the loss of a good player, and if anything, they shaded the exchanges during the nerve testing closing minutes.
Couldn’t harness elements
The losers opened backed by the strong wind, but they were never able to harness it to their advantage. After Austin Murphy and Martin Boran swopped early points, Erin’s Own took the lead with Byrne’s first goal, scored after fielding a high delivery on the right edge of the square at the city end before blasting to the net.
It took Clara until the 11th minute to get back level, which they did with a point from a 75 metre free by Keith Hogan (1-1 to 0-4). Clara were wasteful up to this stage, with as many wides as scores registered.
The winners regained the lead when Martin Boran flashed over a point following a foul on good ball winner, Eddie Brennan. They continued to hold the advantage up to half-time, at which point they led by 1-3 to 0-4.
A pair of well taken frees by Keith Hogan square the match by the 36th minute, but within three minutes the game was going away from them again. First they conceded a minor to Eoin Brennan. Then Michael Owens and Peadar Boran worked really hard to create the second goal for Jimmy Byrne (2-4 to 0-6).
Clara nearly wiped out that advantage seconds later, but luck was against them. Christopher Bolger out-foxed the Erin’s Own defence, but after doing everything right - striking and aiming - he was defied by goalie, Tom Brophy, who did things even better when blocking brilliantly.
Clara did claim the next two scores through James Nolan and Lester Ryan, a rising shot from inside the ‘14’ that might have been a goal, but they just couldn’t drive home the advantage (2-4 to 0-8).
A foul on Michael Murphy, who had a defender climbing on his back as he contested a dropping ball, earned Martin Boran another minor from a placed ball. Hogan posted a reply. The sending off followed and Hogan made the winners pay at the double when he fired over the free which resulted.
Refused to wilt
The minimum divided the teams, 2-5 to 0-10. The advantage was with the losers, but Erin’s Own refused to wilt. Brian Dillon saw a shot miss the target. So too did the deadly Conor Fogarty.
Liam Ryan posted a wide at the other end as the tension mounted. With less than two minutes left on the clock, Michael Murphy fielded a clearance from his own ’keeper, Tom Brophy, before shooting a point.
Within a minute Clara’s Christopher Bolger forced another save from Brophy before Keith Hogan posted the point from a free mentioned earlier. In the end time ran out on Clara.
Still, you couldn’t argue but the better team won, with Conor Fogarty, Peter O’Donovan, Martin Boran, Eddie Brennan and Eoin Brennan the brightest of the bright heroes in blue and white.
Scorers: Erin’s Own - Jimmy Byrne (2-0); Martin Boran (0-2, frees); Eoin Brennan, Michael Owens, Michael Murphy (0-1 each). Clara - Keith Hogan (0-8, six frees, two 65s’); Lester Ryan, James Nolan, Austin Murphy (0-1 each).
Erin’s Own - Tom Brophy, Peter O’Donovan, Padraig Keating, Ciaran Wallace, Jerry Callinan, Conor Fogarty, Robert Moran, Eoin Brennan, Aidan Moran, Michael Murphy, Michael Owens, Martin Boran, Eddie Brennan, Peadar Boran, Jimmy Byrne. Subs - Andrew Carron, Brian Dillon.
Clara - Killian Phelan, Dermot Nolan, John Phelan, Sean O’Shea, Conor O’Shea, Shane Prendergast, David Langton, Lester Ryan, Christopher Bolger, Liam Ryan, Conor Phelan, James Nolan, Ciaran Prendergast, Austin Murphy, Keith Hogan. Sub - Jack Langton.
Referee - Peter Burke (Emeralds).