GRAIGUE-Ballycallan claimed their second brace of points in the senior hurling league when they deservedly beat Fenians (Johnstown) in a hard fought second round game at Nowlan Park.
In a game that never reached the heights expected the winners were by far the better team and but for some wayward finishing they would have had a much bigger margin of victory.
Graigue made the brighter start. Niall Millea pointed a free after he had been fouled. John Broderick equalised straight after the puck-out and a keen contest looked on the cards. However, it didn’t quite work out that way.
Graigue, with Niall Millea in top form, began to assert. Millea hit three unanswered points (two frees) between the 5th and 13th minutes to put his side 0-4 to 0-1 ahead. They were good value for that lead.
The downside for the Kilmanagh lads was that they had spurned several reasonably easy point scoring chances during this period of dominance. An excellent point from Fenians centre-forward Darragh Tobin in the 15th minute kept his side very much in touch.
Punished the opposition
However, the aforementioned Niall Millea continued to punish every Johnstown indiscretion. By half-time Graigue had established a 0-7 to 0-4 lead with all their scores coming from the stick of Niall Millea.
Kevin Power reduced the arrears with a pointed free in the 37th minute as both sides struggled to find the range. Once again Niall Millea replied with a similar score to leave the score Graigue-Ballycallan 0-8, Fenians 0-5.
Then in the 50th minute Darragh Tobin struck an angled ground shot from about 30 metres out on the right wing and the shot beat the defence and Graigue goalie P.J. Pollard for the only goal of the game. It was now all square: Fenians 1-5, Graigue-Ballycallan 0-8.
The winners strong response was to hit three unanswered points from John Hoyne, Eddie Brennan and Niall Millea (free) to again go three clear (0-11 to 1-5).
Fenians battled on and a pointed free from Kevin Power ensured a nervous ending for the winners. Paddy Kennedy restored Graigue’s three points lead but Fenians had the final say when Darragh Tobin pointed in injury-time.
Graigue held on for what was a deserved victory despite some terrible shooting, particularly in the first half. James Ryall had a fine game for the winners at full-back. Adrian Burke, Michael Hoyne, Niall Millea and John Hoyne were others who played prominent parts in the victory.
For Fenians P.J.Delaney, Declan Garrett, Kevin Power and Paul Quinlan (until injured) and Darragh Tobin all tried very hard.
Scorers: Graigue-Ballycallan - Niall Millea (0-9, sixfrees): Paddy Kennedy, John Hoyne, Eddie Brennan (0-1 each). Fenians - Darragh Tobin (1-2); Kevin Power (0-3); John Broderick (0-2).
Graigue-Ballycallan - P.J. Pollard, Adrian Burke, John Cleere, Darragh Walton, James Ryall, Michael Hoyne, Ciaran Hoyne, Niall Millea, Jimmy Murphy, Eddie Brennan, Dermot Ryall, Paddy Kennedy, Dermot Heafey, John Hoyne, James Dunphy. Subs - John Purcell for D. Heafey; Sean O’Dwyer for J. Dunphy.
Fenians - P.J. Ryan, Cathal Phelan, J.P. Grehan, Declan Garrett, Jason Ryan, P.J. Delaney, Ger Henderson, Kevin Power, John Henderson, Paul Quinlan, Darragh Tobin, John Broderick, Kevin Reid, Conor Tobin, Danny Dermody. Subs - Kieran Grehan for D. Dermody; Eoin Shiel for P. Quinlan (inj); Declan Brennan for J. Henderson.
Referee – Sean Cleere (O’Loughlin-Gaels).