Maher the man as ’Rangers turn on mighty show

A classic goal by Diarmuid Maher inside the final tempestuous, frantic minutes of this junior hurling championship game in St John’s Park on Saturday whipped Barrow Rangers into the hat for the next round.

A classic goal by Diarmuid Maher inside the final tempestuous, frantic minutes of this junior hurling championship game in St John’s Park on Saturday whipped Barrow Rangers into the hat for the next round.

As one supporter remarked: “ Maher is the only class hurler out there capable of creating and finishing such a goal”.

The summation by the admirer was not wrong. He oozed class in most things he did all day long.

In keeping with much of the junior hurling being played presently, this again was in the very good category. It is getting better and better. It started at a blistering pace, and it never stumbled. Shane McEvoy drilled over the Rangers first score, a point after two minutes.

Kilmacow’s response was practically instant and clinical. Shay Dempsey rifled home a great goal after three minutes, to be followed in quick succession by two marvellous Paddy O’Keeffe points.

The ’Rangers supporters were beginning to get somewhat apprehensive. However they needn’t have worried too much. Cathal Kenny started to put his game together at midfield, slipping three super points between the Kilmacow posts and the 15th minutes.

Diarmuid Maher gave him a push on with two of his own, and the men from Paulstown were upsides. Cathal English weighed in with a brace, and by the 23rd minute, it was time for the Kilmacow support to show signs of wearisome anxiety.

It was great stuff, relative to the grade.

Points by Kenny (2) Maher (2) and Martin Bambrick saw the winners reach the half way stage leading by 0-13 to Kilmacow’s 1-6.

Some of Kilmacow’s shooting in the first half was not inspiring, as it lacked conviction. More of it was taken from impossible angles, and more impossible distance.

The second half roared along. The men of the first half were again the men of the second half. Richie Doyle, Maher, Kenny, English, Breen, and Timmy Brennan. Maher book-ended three Kilmacow points from McNamara, Dempsey, and O’Keeffe between the 32nd and 38th minutes.

Kilmacow looked a better outfit in the early parts of the new half. Within eight minutes of the finish, Kilmacow had caught and passed the Paulstown men. They looked to be on the way, but an absolutely storming finish by the Rangers saw them force Kilmacow to concede ground. The introduction of the two Whitelys was paramount. Dermot struck an upright with a shot, while Michael slipped over a point from a free.

With Kilmacow still in front on the call of time, a Paulstown attack, orchestrated by Richie Doyle, was taken on by Diarmuid Maher, whose shot was so expertly placed that even God couldn’t save it.

Riveting stuff, by two totally committed outfits. Pity one had to lose!

Scorers: Barrow Rangers - Diarmuid Maher (1-5, three frees); Cathal Kenny (0-6); Cathal English (0-3); Martin Bmbrick, Ger Walsh, Michael Whitely (0-1 each). Kilmacow - Shay Dempsey (1-2); Paddy O’Keeffe (0-4);Richie McNamara (0-4, one ’65, three frees); Dylan Cooke (0-2); Luke Harney, Peter Mullally, Johnny Hayes (0-1 each).

Barrow Rangers - Graham English, tom Brennan, Richie Doyle, Ciaran Breen, Ger Walsh, Timmy Brennan, Edward Prendergast, Martin Bambrick, Diarmuid Maher, Shane McEvoy, Jason Holden, Cathal English, Billy Hanlon. Subs - Michael Whitely, Thomas Whitely, Ciaran Doyle.

Kilmacow - Richie O’Neill (capt), Tom Reddy, Dean Power, Ian Aherne, Ryan McKenna, Luke Harney, Brian Fleming, Ray Hennessy, Paddy O’Keeffe, Peter Mullally, Sean Flynn, Johnny Hayes, Richie McNamara, Josh Tobin, Shay Dempsey. Sub - Dylan Cooke.

Referee - John Walsh (Rower Inistioge).