Ballyragget was the stage for this third round shooot-out between city side, O’Loughlin Gaels and Erin’s Own of Castlecomer in the senior hurling league. The ground was hard and the sky bright, setting the scene for a fierce encounter, and two hard going sides didn’t disappoint punters.
O’Loughlin’s claimed their second win, while ’Comer were left to ponder the future again after failing to build on the success dug out against Clara the previous week.
’Comer’s Michael Murphy got the scoring underway after just two minutes, being set up by seasoned centre-forward Michael Owens for a point. The centre-forward dismissed any concerns about his age and ability to cope when he turned in a most convincing performance, limiting the influence of county star Brian Hogan on the game.
O’Loughlin’s shrugged off their sluggish start with a sweet score from Niall McEvoy to get them going. The game was just six minutes old when the decisive blow was struck, however. A foul on the lightning quick David Burke resulted in a penalty being awarded to the city side. The shot was saved, but target man Martin Comerford was on hand to finish the the rebounding ball to the corner of the ’Comer net. Mark Kelly added a point but the losers responded with scores from Eddie Brennan and Michael Murphy.
O’Loughlin’s quickly regained control. A free from Mark Bergin, sandwiched by scores from Brian Dowling and Jack Nolan, got them back in the groove. With 25 minutes gone ’Comer had registered just three scores. They were struggling to break down the O’Loughlin’s full-back line. The tight grip the winners maintained meant that Erin’s Own added only two more scores before the break. At the other end, Mark Bergin slotted over from the sideline with Martin Comerford adding a brace before the break, leaving them six points to the good, 1-8 to 0-5.
After a drawn out first quarter O’Loughlin’s found a good rhythm and got on top and they were controlling the game. The difference when things were examined at the break was that the city side had taken their chances well, wasting very few opportunities.
ERin’s Own stepped up the tempo immediately after the restart. They turned two frees into points through talisman Conor Fogarty. O’Loughlin’s maintained their lead, however, a free from Mark Bergin and a second point from Mark Kelly ensuring the six point divide remained intact.
Team captain Martin Boran was fouled for two frees in-a-row, converting both impressively. O’Loughlin’s weren’t to be
bested though. A shot at goal was stopped by ’keeper, Tom Brophy but lurking was Comerford, who slotted over sweetly. A Jack Nolan score restored the six point lead, and the game seemed to be all but over. A Fogarty 65 preceded a brilliant goal from Martin Boran, whose whistling shot from 20 metres gave ’keeper Stephen Murphy no chance.
Mark Kelly added a third score before Boran grabbed his second. Substitute Andrew Carron made an impact on the hour mark with a run and converted effort. It was too little, however, as scores from Brian Dowling and Mark Bergin added two more in stoppage time secure O’Loughlin’s second win of the campaign.
The game produced some high quality play with fair and hard tackles flying in throughout. ’Comer will have been disappointed not to have managed at least a point, but the victory was well deserved by O’Loughlin’s.
Scorers: O’Loughlin Gaels - Martin Comerford (1-3); Mark Bergin (0-4, two frees); Mark Kelly (0-3); Jack Nolan, Brian Dowling (0-2 each); David Burke (0-1). Erin’s Own - Martin Boran (1-3, 0-2 frees); Conor Fogarty (0-5, 0-2 65s’, 0-3 frees); Michael Murphy (0-2); Andrew Carron, Eddie Brennan (0-1 each).
O’Loughlin Gaels - Stephen Murphy, Eoghan Grant, Anthony Forristal, Eddie Kearns, Jason Quan, Brian Hogan, Niall Bergin, Paddy Butler, Jack Nolan, Niall McEvoy, Mark Bergin, Brian Dowling, David Burke, Mark Kelly, Martin Comerford.
Erin’s Own - Tom Brophy, Ciaran Wallace, Padraig Keating, Peter O Donovan, Gerry Callinan, Conor Fogarty, Aidan Moran, Eoin Brennan, Robert Moran, Michael Murphy, Michael Owens, Martin Boran, Eddie Brennan, Peadar Boran, Jimmy Byrne. Subs - Andrew Carron, Brian Dillon.