A BLEND of youth and experience can be vital in victory. John Lockes (Callan) got the right mix of both ingredients as they got the better of Bennettsbridge in the junior hurling league clash at Bennettsbridge on Sunday (1-8 to 0-8).
While both teams gave an excellent exhibition of hurling – neither will be too far away from a county final come season’s end – the ’Lockes had a little bit extra when it mattered.
Central to their success was the positioning of John O’Neill at full-back. He gave an exhibition in the number three shirt, coping with a number of different markers who challenged him. In front were under-21 hurlers Owen McGrath and Jason Corcoran, who helped keep a steady ship throughout.
A lack of firepower could be the Achilles heel for Callan, who racked up 15 wides over the hour. Bennettsbridge weren’t far behind as they hit a dozen, six either side of the interval.
When it came to scoring, the match was practically a duel between Simon Burke and Nicky Cleere. Both got the bulk of their team’s scores, Cleere hitting six points for the ’Bridge, Burke with eight for Callan.
The dominance of both back lines was the real telling point of the game, as were the displays of the netminders Brendan Grace (JL) and Enda Cleere (BB). Cleere came to the rescue of the ’Bridge on a few occasions, especially in the first half when Callan were at full tilt.
Brian Lannon got the hosts up and running with a point inside 60 seconds, Nicky Cleere following up soon after. While Simon Burke got the ’Lockes off the mark it was Ger Shelly’s goal in the 10th minute that proved to be the difference at the final whistle. Cleere added a further two points (one free) in a low-scoring first half while Simon Burke picked off a brace from play and another from a free to leave Callan three points clear at the interval (1-4 to 0-4).
Callan extended their advantage when Simon Burke stretched the ’Lockes lead with a free early in the second half, but that was eclipsed by the score of the game as Aidan Cleere split the posts with 40-metre sideline cut for Bennettsbridge.
Best for the ’Lockes were Brendan Grace, Eoghan Fahey, John O’Neill, Bill McCormack, Jack McDowell, Owen McGrath and Simon Burke. Bennettsbridge were best served by Enda Cleere, Brian Lannon Daragh Wafer, Enda Morrissey and Nicky Cleere.
John Lockes - Brendan Grace, Eoghan Fahey, John O’Neill, Jack McDowell, Owen McGrath, Jason Corcoran, J.P. Corcoran, Paddy Kennedy, Matthew Holohan, Jim Power, Shane Bergin, Mark Shelly, Simon Burke (0-8), Ger Shelly (1-0), Bill McCormack.
Bennettsbridge - Enda Cleere, Eddie Murphy, Patrick O’Neill, Paul O’Neill, Daragh Wafer, Robert Lannon, Willie Murphy, Enda Morrissey, Hugh O’Neill, Nicky Cleere (0-6), James Moran, Cormac Wafer, Aidan Cleere (0-1), Brian Lannon (0-1), Liam Blanchfield. Sub: Jason Cleere.
Referee - John Walsh (Rower-Inistioge).