It was a good evening for Windgap on Friday. They beat Bennettsbridge in the junior hurling league/championship, and to add cream to the strawberries, one of their colleagues, now horse-trainer with a small operation, Garret Power trained Excellent to win the Ladies Day handicap hurdle in Kilbeggan at the beautiful odds of 12/1.
No wonder there were plenty of smiles around the hills.
If ever a game was one of two halves and so on, this junior encounter in superbly presented Windgap had all the hallmarks of what was in the lads - or lassies- head when they coined the cliché.
Bennettsbridge, with a very young team and short some big hitters, gave an exhibition of the beauty, silken skills, team work and co-ordination that are the core values of this great game. They out-thought, out-manoeuvred, out-shone the home side all over the park.
They crafted some terrific scores, and their inter-action, when in possession was a delight to behold. They had Windgap chasing shadows, and but for the efficiency of the home side’s full-back line trio of the imperious Noel Power, flanked by Matt Enright and Peter Landy, the ‘Bridge first-half take of 0-9 could have been much greater.
The Windgap approach during that half was rather aimless; their discipline was questionable, and sometimes raw. They were fortunate that at least one of their players stayed on the field during a few skirmishes.
It was not nice, and it brought no credit to the home side, on this occasion, a club that this column lauds for its abilities to punch above their weight. It was puzzling to many that the official in charge showed confusion, and perhaps too much tolerance, when stricter control was needed.
It was all Bennettsbridge in the first half. Windgap got their account open with a Niall Doran free in the 4th minute. They were not to get another until the game had gone into added time during the half.
Half-time: Bennettsbridge 0-9, Windgap 0-2.
Whatever ground rules the Windgap mentors most forcefully laid down during the break certainly paid a dividend. By the 43rd minute the ‘Bridge still enjoyed their seven point advantage. However, all was about to change.
A Niall Doran free -truth be known, it was mishit- ended up in the back of the ‘Bridge net. The clock had just tipped into the final quarter. We had another round of needless h
A goal by Tommy Lonergan left a bare point in the differential box. The ’Bridge collapse was sorely evident, with their defenders, particularly from 1 to 4 struggling.
Another blaster of a free from Doran, and the home side led by two. Points by Aidan Cleere (free) and Enda Morrissey levelled matters, but from there, it was Windgap all the way.
Doran got three points, two from frees, and Tommy Lonergan grabbed another.
Windgap had tremendous hurling warriors in Sean Foley, Noel Power, Matt Enright, Peter Landy, Aidan Mackey, Niall Doran and Tommy Lonergan.
Bennettsbridge were a team of All-Stars in the first half, whose lustre was dimmed in a frantic second half. Paul O’Neill, Enda Morrissey, Hugh O’Neill, Aidan Cleere and Kevin Blanchfield were most consistant for the ‘Bridge.
Scorers: Windgap - Niall Doran (2-5, 2-4 frees); Tommy Lonergan (1-1); Sean Foley, Tommy Fleming, James Murray (0-1 each). Bennettsbridge - Aidan Cleere (0-8, five frees); Hugh O’Neill (0-3); Enda Morrissey (0-2); Paul O’Neill (0-1); Enda Cleere (0-1, free).
Windgap - Michael Power, Matthew Enright, Noel Power, Peter Landy, Aidan Mackey, Conor Lonergan, Ger Purcell, Vincent Long, Philip Lonergan, Cian Ryan, Tommy Lonergan, Eamonn Hawe, Sean Foley, Niall Doran, James Murray. Subs - Tommy Fleming, James Mackey, Pauric Walsh.
Bennettsbridge - Enda Cleere, James Dowling, Willie Murphy, Jack McCarron, Paul O’Neill, Robert Lannon, Micheál Shiel, Enda Morrissey, Eddie Murphy, Eddie Fitzgerald, Hugh O’Neill, Aidan Cleere, Kevin Blanchfield, Tim Dooley, Seamus Moran.