Erin’s Own (Castlecomer) secured their status at senior hurling level status for another year when they overcame gritty Graigue-Ballycallan, storming to safety in the closing quarter of this first round/relegation semi-final tie in St John’s Park.
Michael Murphy opened the scoring, his first of the game a lovely strike that sailed between the posts. Five minutes in Eddie Brennan almost fashioned a goal after a burst of speed took him through the opposing defence. His run was halted by sheer weight of numbers.
The Boran brothers added a score each with Peter O’Donavan adding ’Comer’s fourth. The winners seemed to be on a run, but they were halted in their tracks when a loose ball on the 20 metre line was snapped up by Eddie Brennan, who lashed it to the net.
’Comer were suddenly on the back foot, having lost control. A long range free from ’keeper P.J. Trant levelled the scores. Two Martin Boran frees quickly restored the ’Comer lead before Peadar Boran added his second soon after.
Brennan clipped over two points in return, one from a placed ball. The ’Comers midfielders added a point each, as did Aidan Moran. Just before the break Niall Millea shot one more for Graigue to cut the lead to three at half time, 0-10 (EO) to 1-4.
The winners had been the better side, but a couple for mistakes allowed Graigue to remain in the game, although they had not been in the lead.
At the start of the new half Niall Millea shot over nicely just three minutes in. Murphy and Byrne responded with scores for ’Comer, but Millea was only getting started. He had switched to full-forward and was causing all sorts of problems. He grabbed two points in quick succession.
This seemed to be the wake up call ’Comer needed. Suddenly they upped their game. Two Boran frees edged them back into a good rhythm. A Peter O Donavan score sandwiched by two Millea frees followed.
Two additional scores from Martin Boran capped it for ’Comer, leaving them four points to the good at the whistle.
Scorers: Erin’s Own - Martin Boran (0-9, 0-7 frees); Peter O’Donovan (0-3); Michael Murphy, Peadar Boran (0-2 each); Aidan Moran, Jimmy Byrne (0-1 each). Graigue-Ballycallan - Niall Millea (0-7, 0-3 frees); Eddie Brennan (1-2, 0-1 free); P.J. Trant (0-1, free); Dermot Heafey (0-1).
Erin’s Own - Tom Brophy, Conor Delaney, Pauric Keating, Ciaran Wallace, Robert Moran, Conor Fogarty, Jerry Callinan, Aidan Moran, Peter O’Donovan, Peadar Boran, Michael Owens, Martin Boran, Eoin Brennan, Michael Murphy, Jimmy Byrne. Subs: Andrew Carron, Martin Hawley.
Graigue Ballycallan - P.J. Trant, Darragh Egan, Ger Teehan, Shane Murphy, Jimmy Murphy, James Ryall, Ciaran Hoyne, Bob Murphy, John Cleere, Thomas Ryan, Eddie Brennan, Vinny Teehan, Niall Millea, Darragh Walton, John Purcell. Subs - Philly Cahill, Dermot Heafey.
Referee - Eoin Hayes (Thomatown).