Two teams from Carlow faced off against two from Kilkenny in the South junior hurling league ‘A’ semi-finals and both returned to base as victors, writes Barrie Henriques.
In the first semis in well presented Páirc na Seamroga, the Erin’s Own (Bagnalstown) took the lead through a Jack Barron free in the second minute, and they were never headed. Erin’s Own won by 1-13 to 1-10.
Conditions were anything but conducive to free-flowing hurling after a heavy mist descended upon the manicured surface. A strong wind blew towards Knocktopher, straight down the throat of Glenmore in the first half.
It was mighty difficult for Glenmore to gain long distances with drives towards the Erin’s Own goal. The sliotar was slithering in all directions. It was a lottery for all to rely on their footing, and simple elements like catching or striking with confidence were difficult calls.
On balance the Carlow men deserved their win. They were easier on the ball. Their combination play was more controlled, and they defended with a noticed concentration that defied the best efforts of the Glenmore attack to gain purchase.
It was not that Glenmore didn’t have a chance or two to gain the upper hand. They most certainly did, but on at least three occasions the chances were lost through poor shooting or timely defensive intervention.
The wind-assisted Erin’s Own had quarried a slender lead of two points by the 20th minute. Their shooting was on the good side of poor, but they certainly over indulged in passing when more direct action was mandatory.
In the 21st minute a sweeping movement starting with their powerful centre-back, Trevor Nolan feeding an inch-perfect pass to Andrew Beaton. Nolan continued towards the Glenmore goal, offering support to Beaton. Having enticed two defenders to attempt a disposition, Beaton returned the ball to Nolan, whose shot left Shane Murphy helpless.
At half time Erin’s Own lead by 1-8 to 0-5. Not an unassailable lead by any stretch of the imagination.
By the 48th minute there was still a six-point gap. Glenmore were making no inroads into the deficit. In a frantic final 12 minutes, Glenmore threw the town hall clock at Erin’s Own.
The Carlow men stood tough, sturdy and unforgiving. Glenmore grabbed a goal by Emmett Vereker to narrow the gap to a goal, but the clock was against them.
It was not the greatest game seen, but there was plenty of excitement to warm the cockles on a depressingly cold evening.
Scorers: Erin’s Own - Jack Barron (0-6, five frees); Trevor Nolan (1-0); John Kelly (0-2); Eoin Minchin, Pat Doyle, David Miley, Andrew Beaton, Andrew Minchin (0-1 each). Glenmore - Emmet Vereker (1-0); Ben Doherty, James Aylward (0-2 each); Dean Croke (0-2, frees); James Cody (0-2, one free, one ’65); Darren Aylward (0-1); Paddy Murphy (0-1 free).
Erin’s Own - James Carroll, Jamie Whelan, Ronan Minchin, Brian Hourihan, David Galway, Trevor Nolan, James Geoghegan, Eoin Minchin, David Kennedy, John Kelly, Andrew Beaton, Peter Doyle, David Miley. Subs - Des Dowling, David Corcoran. Glenmore - Shane Murphy, James Cody, James Irish, Ciarán O’Connor, Brian O’Donoghue, Michael Phelan, Niall Dunne, James Aylward, Darren Aylward, George Walsh, Ben Doherty, Sean Duggan, Eoin Aylward, Emmet Vereker, Paddy Murphy. Subs - Michael Burke, Dean Croke, Steven Cody, John Gahan.
Referee - M. Flynn.