Bennettsbridge avenged last year’s last minute defeat to Barrow Rangers (Paulstown) in the county final and clinched a place in the minor hurling Roinn A championship decider when they scored a fully merited victory over the ’Rangers at Thomastown on Sunday. The game provided great excitement and a great standard of hurling for the large crowd.
’Rangers got away to the perfect start. Full-forward Michael Lonergan ghosted in behind the defence and finish a long free to the net. Ciaran Doyle pointed a free before Lonergan struck again on five minutes for his second goal following great work by Sean Murphy.
The ’Bridge slowly came back and by the the 17th minute had drawn level with a brilliant goal from a 20 metre free by Aidan Cleere and four excellent points from play by Hugh O’Neill, Enda Morrissey, Liam Blanchfield and Cormac Wafer.
Points from Cleere and Morrisey put Bennettsbridge ahead. A fine Ciaran Doyle point under pressure reduced the deficit.
Blanchfield (B) and Doyle exchanged points before Cleere, who had by now found his range from frees, stretched the lead to three from a free and 65. Dylan O’Shea and Ciaran Doyle pointed for ’Rangers to which Kevin Blanchfield replied with a point to leave the half time score at 1-10 to 2-5 in favour of the winners.
’Rangers missed a number of easy chances as they put on pressure early in the new half before Ciaran Doyle pointed. They were rocked on 37 minutes when Dylan Walsh finished to the net after goalie Graham English had saved brilliantly.
Enda Morrissey extended the lead with a point. ’Rangers fought back for three great points from play credited to Daniel O’Neill (2) and Michael Whitely to reduce the deficit to two.
Enda Morrissey and Ciaran Doyle exchanged points before the crucial score came in the 53rd minute and it went the way of the ’Bridge. Sub Kevin Brennan, who was left home alone near the ’Rangers goal took a pass from one of his colleagues and made no mistake, giving the goalie no chance.
Daniel O’Neill had another point for ’Rangers. Enda Morrissey availed of a defensive error to point for Bennettsbridge before Ciaran Doyle pointed a free to reduce the deficit.
Ciaran Doyle raced through the ’Bridge defence in search of a goal but his shot was smothered. ’Rangers were awarded another free shortly after but went for goal when a point might have been the better option. From this save the ball was swept upfield and an Aiden Cleere point put the game beyond ’Rangers.
Bennettsbridge meet neighbours Thomastown in the county final.
Best for Bennettsbridge were Robert Lennon, William Murphy, Enda Morrissey, Aiden Cleere, Hugh O’Neill, Shane Nolan and Cormac Wafer. For ’Rangers, none tried harder than John Brennan, Tom Brennan, Ciaran Breen, Ciaran Doyle, Sean Murphy, Michael Whitely, Daniel O’Neill and Michael Lonergan.
Bennettsbridge - Michael Sheil, Shane Nolan, Robert Lennon, Sean Morrissey, William Murphy, Paul O’Neill, Kevin Blanchfield (0-1), Enda Morrissey (0-5), Michael Power, Eoin O’Connor, Hugh O’Neill (0-1), Aiden Cleere (1-4), Liam Blanchfield (0-2), Cormac Wafer (0-1), Dylan Walsh (1-0). Sub - Kevin Brennan (1-0).
Barrow Rangers - Graham English, Peter Treacy, Kevin Brennan, Ciaran Breen, John Brennan, Tom Brennan, Edward Prendergast, Ciaran Doyle (0-7), Daniel O’Neill (0-3), Niall Walsh, Michael Whitely (0-1), Sean Murphy, Dylan O’Shea (0-1), Michael Lonergan (2-0), Keith Flavin. Subs - Nathan West, Aaron Nolan
Referee - Eamon Mansfield (Cloneen).