Grabbing goals at the right time helped St Patrick’s (Ballyragget) get their intermediate hurling league campaign off to a winning start.
Two green flags helped the Saints get the better of a hard-grafting Glenmore in this opening round game, played in cool but dry conditions at Nowlan Park on Sunday.
In a low scoring game, a goal in each half by the Northern Standard bearers proved vital. In an evenly contested first half, the sides were level at 0-2 each at the end of the opening quarter.
The breakthrough came in the 22nd minute, when Mark Staunton goaled for the Ballyragget side. The goal boosted the Northerners and was followed by a point by Brian ‘Brooky’ Phelan in the 28th minute.
Glenmore suffered a big blow at this stage when Ger Aylward had to retire with an injury in the 23rd minute. He was replaced by Michael Phelan.
Eoin Murphy was off target from a free as Glenmore fought hard to get back into the game but his brother Alan made no mistake when he added a point for the Southern side as half-time approached.
However, it was Ballyragget who finished stronger, Bill Staunton closing the scoring with an excellent point for Saints, who were five points up at the interval (1-6 to 0-4).
On the restart the leaders picked up where they had left off before the break, Michael Brennan increasing their advantage with a well-taken point. Alan Murphy replied for Glenmore, Mark Aylward keeping his side in touch with another point.
As the half wore on Ballyragget battled hard to keep a rising Glenmore tide in check. At this stage the Southerners were pushing to get back into the game - but for some good work from midfielder Brian ‘Brooky’ Phelan, they would have been closer.
Picked up pace
The tussle picked up pace as Kevin Kelly and Alan Murphy exchanged frees in the 42nd and 43rd minutes, increasing the intensity of the game. Glenmore were on a charge, but Paddy Murphy missed a good chance to close the gap as time ticked by.
By the 50th minute there was just two points between the sides (St Patrick’s 2-8, Glenmore 0-11) with everything to play for.
The game was in the melting pot, but it was St Patrick’s who finished stronger. Points from Michael Brennan and substitute Conor Delaney, cancelling out a single score from Eoin Murphy saw the Ballyragget side shade the contest. However, improvement will be needed if they are to be in contention for honours later on in the year.
SCORERS: St Patrick’s - Kevin Kelly (0-4, 0-3 frees, 0-1 65); Mark Staunton, Eoin Bergin (1-0 each); Michael Brennan (0-3); Conor Delaney, Brian Phelan (0-1 each). Glenmore - Alan Murphy (0-7, 0-2 frees); Ger Aylward, Mark Aylward (0-2 each); Eoin Murphy, Michael Phelan (0-1 each).
St Patrick’s - Michael Gannon, John Mooney, James Gannon, Paddy McEvoy, Bill Staunton, Geoffrey Brennan, Robbie Healy, Brian ‘Brooky’ Phelan, Kevin Kelly, Joe Brennan, Seoirse Kenny, Michael Brennan, Mark Staunton, Eoin Bergin, Conor Delaney. Sub: Jody Phelan for M. Staunton.
Glenmore - Davy Aylward, Sean Duggan, Fergal Freyne, Mark Phelan, Phillip Roche, Eoin Murphy, Shane Doherty, James Aylward, Colm Doherty, Mark Aylward, Ger Aylward, Ben Doherty, Patrick Murphy, Alan Murphy, Emmet Vereker. Subs: Michael Phelan for J. Aylward, Ciaran Foran for E. Vereker.
Referee - Eamon Larkin (James Stephens).