IT WAS a game that to a large degree had the pitch set by the prevailing weather conditions, which were wet, dreary and dull.
Apart from being thankful for the win and the pocketing of two points to kick start their season; Carrickshock won’t make much of this victory in the senior hurling league at Callan that was largely a twilight zone for most of Friday’s contest.
With the evening wet and dreary, the conditions were far from conducive to exotic play and the small crowd was treated to a match in which raw effort was king. The ’Shock always looked the more likely winners, if merely for the fact that they had the better forwards.
Tullaroan, who have been hit badly by emigration and injuries, and things are likely to get worse in the former department, apparently, won’t be the soft touch many though they might be this season. They may have lost personnel, but pride in the parish is still huge and this team gave about as much as it had to offer here.
Indeed, they could easily have been closer at the finish if two strong calls for penalties had gone their way during the closing quarter. In the first their most threatening attacker, Padraig Walsh was pushing in the back and driven with force into the net.
An even stronger case could have been made later when Jimmy Coogan, after drilling a hole right through the ’Shock defence during a dash from the ‘50’, was bundled over in the big square in 54th minute.
The winners were three scores short of their full tally at the time of the Coogan incident, and around 10 minutes were left when the Walsh situation occurred. Had either call gone the other way, the winners, for sure, would have had a very different battle on their hands at the finish.
In the broader picture, the news to be related in terms of Kilkenny players was very encouraging.
Richie Power continued his progress in terms of trying to attain full fitness following an operation to correct a hip injury. He played well. Ditto Michael Rice. While he played in the National League final, he needs game time to sharpen up and he worked well here.
Tommy Walsh, who missed the League final as a safeguard against adding to the trouble of a shoulder injury, looked very well, even if he did operate at centre-forward. Tullaroan’s opening three scores followed fouls on Walsh.
He received a right good ‘dunt’, if you will pardon the expression, in the 47th minute which planted him on the ground. He jumped up straight away on got on with the job. The fact that he could take a hard knock like that and bounce back immediately would suggest he can be ready for the tough grind of the Leinster championship.
Rain and fans come together
The hurling got underway in semi-darkness because the rain arrived with the fans. The main difference between the teams during the opening half was a Carrickshock goal scored by Michael Rice in the second minute.
Poor – perhaps it was over eager – defending led to two Tullaroan players losing control of a situation and surrendering possession to the former All-Star just to the left about 25 metres from the country end goal. Rice raced through and buried a low shot in the bottom far corner of the net (1-0 to 0-1).
When Richie Power was hit late as he released a hand-pass moments later, he was gifted a handy point from a free to help the winners settle. In the sixth minute John Power shot a super point from 50 metres, virtually on the left sideline (1-2 to 0-1), and for a while the ’Shock looked capable of motoring on.
They weren’t allowed, mainly due to a fiercely committed Tullaroan defence in which every man unloaded everything he had to offer. While Stephen Maher was the top man here, and Richard Maher and Richard Cleere were excellent too, it was the wholehearted contribution of all that helped keep the team afloat.
The Northerners hung on and hung on with the long serving Jimmy Coogan snapping up every chance he could from frees and the flying Padraig Walsh making good gains at top of the right. When half-time was reached the winners lead was cut back to 1-8 to 0-7.
During the six minutes immediately after the break Carrickshock struck for points from David Franks, a great effort under severe pressure, Richie Power (free), John Power, another great effort under pressure, and Richie again to stretch the difference to 1-12 to 0-7.
Hill too much
Bearing in mind their limitations in attack, you sort of knew the hill to be climbed was too much for Tullaroan from there on. So it turned out, despite their gutsy and wholehearted efforts, and the ever improving contributions from Stephen Dowling and Martin Walsh.
The ’Shock showing suggested there was more in them. This was an effort in which contribution was measured against demand. David Franks played a top class game, while Michael Rice, John Murphy, John Power and Richie Power also made significant contributions. John Dalton, who stands suspended now after an unsavoury incident in the League final, signed off with a very strong showing, particularly in the second period.
Scorers: Carrickshock – Richie Power (0-6, four frees); Michael Rice (1-2); John Power (0-3); Jamie Power, David Franks (0-2 each); Shane Power (0-1). Tullaroan – Jimmy Coogan (0-6, frees); Padraig Walsh (0-3); Tommy Walsh (0-1).
Carrickshock – Patrick Farrell, Darren O’Dwyer, John Murphy, Luke Gaule, John Cahill, John Dalton, Niall Tennyson, David Franks, Damien Walsh, Richie Power, Michael Rice, John Power, John Butler, Jamie Power, Mark O’Dwyer. Subs – Brian O’Donovan, Shane Power.
Tullaroan – Richard Holland, Paddy Campion, Michael Maher, Richard Cleere, Richard Maher, Stephen Maher, David Dowling, Stephen Dowling, Martin Walsh, Jimmy Coogan, Tommy Walsh, Mark Walsh, Padraig Walsh, Tom Fitzgerald, Paul Buggy. Subs – Eamon Brennan, Ken Coogan, Ned Sweeney.
Referee – Eamon Mansfield (Cloneen).