A more strident Kilmacow, particularly in the final quarter, got over the line ahead of gallant Thomastown in this Roinn A junior hurling championship tie in Kilmacow on Friday.
Conditions - a greasy surface with incessant rain - made life difficult, including for good performing referee, Ray Byrne, who helped keep the action flowing.
The losers mentors expedited a clever game plan by playing their centre-forward between the two 65s’ when Kilmacow had free shots from their own full-back line or puck-outs. The same ploy was used when ever the opposite scenario applied, moving centre-back, James Hoyne, into the same area whenever they attacked.
It worked exceptionally well for a long time, with centre-forward, the young Jamie Lanigan capturing, or at worst stopping, progress from the Kilmacow defence. Given the conditions, a plethora of clearances, many under pressure from forwards, were forced into the areas where Lanigan was hunting. And when Lanigan forced the pace up front, Hoyne was central to the vacated areas left by Lanigan.
The Kilmacow mentors were not lulled into the trap of sending hunters after the loose men. They held their shape all through, and in truth, that was probably construed as best practice. What failed the Thomastown ploy was the inability of their inside forwards to deal adequately, and profitably, with the challenge mounted by the opposing full-back line.
Shane Harney dealt exceptionally well, albeit with a few hairy scares, with everything fired in his direction. Ian Aherne was excellent. What a grand reader of a game this youngster is, and his dash is compelling viewing. Ryan McKenna and Shane Power never afforded even fresh air to their opponents, and McKenna was a fireball when moved to the wing back position.
McKenna contributed to a formidable half-back line when resited, which included Denis Scully and the tremendously industrious Liam Kearns.
In Richie Walsh Kilmacow had a gem in midfield. With more energy than the Trans Siberian Railway, this lad raced from line to line. Whenever Kilmacow needed a go-to man, Richie Walsh didn’t need the call, he was there. His contribution more than any other pulled the winners home in front
It was not a bag of smarties for either set of forwards. They all tried hard, but often their best efforts spewed like water from a burst balloon. Shay Dempsey was excellent for the winners, showing great industry in hunting down ball and pressurising defenders. Emmett Blanchfield showed some good industry too, as did Sean Ivory and Ed Irish.
The young Thomastown outfit can be well pleased with their shift. They came up short, but how can they be blamed for giving of their very best? Colin Clarke was an excellent full-back, while Cian O’Meara, James Hoyne and Gary Lehane left nothing in the tank.
Fergal Challenor never shirked from making strong forages up the field, while Robbie Donnelly - what a delightful striker - John Barron, Luke Blanchfield and James Hanrahan also made their mark.
The first half was fairly evenly contested. Shay Dempsey got his side into the brine with two points, one an excellent effort from the sideline. Gary Lehane and James O’Hanrahan levelled by the 9th minute. Liam Kearns and Dempsey (2) had doubled the Kilmacow lead by the 17th minute.
At 19 minutes a thrilling movement outfield saw the ball fed to Dempsey, who skipped by two defenders to crack a smashing goal to the Thomastown net. That goal was to prove a challenge too tough for the losers, even though they actually caught the winners within two points of the restart.
At half time, Kilmacow led by 1-6 to 0-8.
For large spells of the second half Kilmacow were dominant. Richie Walsh’s energy was central to keeping them moving forward. Forward movement for Thomastown was less sporadic than in the first half, and that certainly restricted the number of scoring chances. Consequently, they managed a paltry sum of three, two from James O’Halloran (2) and a single from Gary Lehane.
An unanswered four point take by Kilmacow between the 36th and the 47th minutes all but sealed the fate of the opposition. Sean Ivory grabbed one, while Dempsey got three on the bounce.
Thomastown came with a late swagger, pitching all they had into the ring, but whilst they inflicted a few worrying moments on the Kilmacow mentors, it didn’t seem to me that they would have burst in for the equalising goal.
But they hunted the game to the finish.
Scorers: Kilmacow - Shay Dempsey (1-7, four pointed frees); Sean Ivory (0-2); Diarmuid O’Dwyer, Liam Kearns (0-1 each). Thomastown - James O’Hanrahan (0-5, one free); Robbie Donnelly (0-3, one free); Gary Lehane (0-2, one free); Bobby Joe Walsh, Liam Kearns, Andy Kearns (0-1 each).
Kilmacow - Shane Harney, Ryan McKenna, Ian Aherne, Shane Power, Denis Scully, Andy Kearns, Paul Laffan, Richie Walsh, Paul Kelly, Emmett Blanchfield, Sean Ivory, Ed Irish, Diarmuid O’Dwyer, Liam Kearns, Shay Dempsey. Sub - Jack Maguire.
Thomastown - Paul Barron, Kieran Treacy, Colin Clarke, James Burke, Cian O’Meara, James Hoyne, Eoin Treacy, Gary Lehane, Fergal Challenor, Robbie Donnelly, Jamie Lanigan, John Barron, Paud Caulfield, James O’Hanrahan, Luke Blanchfield. Sub - Bobby Joe Walsh.
Referee - Ray Byrne (Glenmore).