Timely second half strikes helped Mullinavat get their intermediate hurling league campaign off to a winning start.
Goals from Willie O’Dwyer and Ger Malone did the damage as the ’Vat saw off the challenge of St Lachtain’s (Freshford) in Palmerstown on Sunday.
Backed by the breeze, the Southerners opened the scoring with a Mark Mansfield free. The Lachtain’s response was solid, as by the 10th minute they had picked three points courtesy of Tommy Flynn, James Maher and Shane Donnelly (free).
The Saints had opportunities to increase their lead, but failed to take a hat-trick of close range chances. They were made to pay for that when Ian Duggan’s point was swiftly followed by a big strike from Jamie Fennelly, who worked hard to shoot his side’s first goal.
The sides traded points after that through Mark Blanchfield and Donnelly. Lachtain’s could have been further behind, but the ’Vat had a goal disallowed for a square ball.
Mansfield bagged two more frees, but a Simon Rafter point kept the Saints in the hunt at half-time (’Vat 1-5, SL 0-5).
The second half began in solid fashion, Donnelly taking his tally to five points as he replied to score from Mansfield (2) and John Walsh. Midway through the half Mullinavat took a big step towards victory when Willie O’Dwyer finished to the Freshford net.
Liam Hickey, who had just come on for St Lachtain’s, hit back with a point. Things got even better, as the score was quickly followed by a Philip Campion goal to leave the Saints just two points adrift with 10 minutes remaining.
However, that was as good as it got for the Freshford men, as Ger Malone quickly replied with his side’s third goal. Both sides landed three further points, but Mullinavat held out for a deserved win.
SCORERS: Mullinavat - Mark Mansfield (0-6, 0-5 frees); Ger Malone, Jamie Fennelly, Willie O’Dwyer (1-0 each); Ian Duggan (0-2); Liam Fennelly, Simon Aylward, John Walsh (0-1 each). St Lachtain’s - Shane Donnelly (0-6 frees); Philip Campion (1-1); Thomas Flynn, Brian Kennedy, Simon Rafter, Liam Hickey, James Maher (0-1 each).
Mullinavat - James Culleton, Robert Malone, Thomas Aylward, Seamus Farrell, Joe Fennelly, Pauric Gahan, Simon Aylward, Mark Mansfield, Dinny Butler, Ian Duggan, Ger Malone, Joe Gahan, Jamie Fennelly, Willie O’Dwyer, John Walsh. Sub: Liam Fennelly.
St Lachtain’s - Darren Brennan, Michael Kavanagh, Niall Phelan, Caoimhean Bergin, Michael Cormack, Brian Kennedy, Brendan Quinn, John Fitzpatrick, Thomas Flynn, Simon Rafter, Noel McGree, James Maher, Philip Campion, Colin Corcoran, Shane Donnelly. Subs: Liam Hickey, Darragh Quinn.
Referee - John Walsh (Rower-Inistioge).