BENNETTSB RIDGE, who would be hoping to fry a bigger fish later in the year, added a decent decoration to a promising season when they unseated heretofore unbeaten champions, Lisdowney in a lively All County junior hurling league final in Palmerstown on Sunday, writes John Knox.
In these times of intense heat and rock hard pitches which will be very different to what can be expected come championship time it is hard to know what to make of any hurling matters.
But the richness of the skill on view from both sides would suggest that they won’t be far away when the business end of the main event of the season is being decided come September and October.
The ’Bridge, who were scoring their first win in the competition, ran up a decent 18 scores. The returns confirmed a good outing for the forwards, but better again was the showing of a sure and balanced defence that restricted the opposition to a mere eight points during the final 42 minutes of play.
Were it not for strong efforts of the bustling Rory Hickey during the closing half, Lisdowney would have made little or no impression up front. He claimed four of their seven closing half points, and created a fifth for Pat O’Carroll, but besides there was little or not threat.
The game got off to an explosive start. As the scores flowed, the teams shared equally in 2-6 during the opening 12 minutes (1-3 each).
Pat O’Carroll then picked up a ball from a throw-in and placed Eddie Hickey for a Lisdowney goal.
Within seconds Patrick O’Neill took advantage of a favourable break of the ball and planted it in the net at the other end.
The ’Bridge took inspiration from that score, and between the 20th and 23rd minutes hit three lovely points per Liam Blanchfield, William Murphy from 40 metres on the right sideline and Aidan Cleere after receiving possession from a cleverly delivery cross field free from Blanchfield.
With the addition of another minor from Hugh O’Neill, the first decisive move of the match took the winners 2-7 to 2-3 clear.
Brightest of the best
At the break they were a decent 2-10 to 2-4 in front after hurling well, with Aidan Cleere, Enda Morrissey, Liam Blanchfield and zippy midfielders, Hugh O’Neill and Kevin Blanchfield the brightest of the best performers.
Lisdowney were hit for a brace of points by Blanchfield and Hugh O’Neill within three minutes of the restart, which allowed the ’Bridge kick on again. While the losers hit back for a brace per Hickey and Pat O’Carroll before the 40th minute they never looked like breaking the opposition.
As the game wore on the winners forwards lost their way and the returns rate dropped, but if they did, the defence grew more powerful, with central men Robert Lennon and Morrissey powerful leaders.
No doubt, the ’Bridge deserved to take the honours but don’t discount Lisdowney. They registered 16 wides, which would suggest they were creating chances.
The losers best were Rory Hickey, Sean Phelan, Martin Phelan and Pat O’Carroll.
Scorers: Bennettsbridge – Liam Blanchfield (0-6, three frees); Aidan Cleere (0-4, two frees, one 65); Patrick O’Neill (1-1); Brian Lannon (1-0); Hugh O’Neill (0-2); James Moran, Sean Morrissey, William Murphy (0-1 each). Lisdowney – Rory Hickey (0-6, three frees, one 65); Eddie Hickey, Paddy Bowden (1-0 each); Sean Phelan (0-1, free); Pat O’Carroll, Ciaran Mackey, Eoin Delahunty, Laurence O’Carroll (0-1 each).
Bennettsbridge – Enda Cleere, Edward Murphy, Robert Lennon, Cormac Wafer, Jason Cleere, Enda Morrissey, Aidan Cleere, Hugh O’Neill, Kevin Blanchfield, Liam Blanchfield, Patrick O’Neill, William Murphy, Brian Lannon, James Moran (capt), Sean Morrissey. Subs – Edward Fitzgerald, Michael Shiel.
Lisdowney – Niall Grogan, Niall O’Hara, Martin Phelan (capt), Padraig Kenny, Niall Kenny, Sean Phelan, Peter Bergin, Pat O’Carroll, Joe Bergin, Aaron Fogarty, Eddie Hickey, Kevin Sweeney, Paddy Bowden, Rory Hickey, Ciaran Mackey. Subs – Shane Clyne, Conor O’Carroll, Niall Mackey, Eoin Delahunty, Laurence O’Carroll.
Referee – John Bennett (Tullogher Rosbercon).