IT WAS typical Kilkenny of the time! They toss together an early season team. New faces abound. They all perform well. And they pull off a victory over NUI Galway, 0-17 to 0-15, writes John Knox.
How things fared in the Walsh Cup hurling tournament in January won’t matter an awful lot when it comes to the business end of the hurling season. Still, it was nice to win, and what was termed a Development Squad earned a place in the semi-finals away to Wexford this weekend.
The next opportunity brings the chance for new players to get additional game time. ”The players dug out a good win,” suggested caretaker manager and under-21 team boss, Richie Mulrooney after Saturday’s slog in the wind and rain at the near weatherproof venue that is now St John’s Park. “Because we had a new team it took us a long time to find our way.
“In the second half we chased the game well, and it was nice to get a win in the end.”
Points from John Power and Mark Bergin in the 69th and 70th minutes pulled the carpet from under NUI Galway, who Shane Donnelly (Kilkenny) is met by Liam Markham (NUI Galway) during the Walsh Cup in Johns’ Park. (Photo: Eoin Hennessy)Yes, and there were plenty of good performers, whose efforts demanded another ‘run’. This showing reminded me of last season’s friendly for the opening of a grounds in Offaly when Kilkenny used about 10 players outside the regular panel, including Walter Walsh by the way, and they whipped together a hugely impressive showing.
No one under performed
This performance wasn’t on the same scale, but a bunch of players who have done little or no training didn’t spare the effort when the Kilkenny call came. Interesting times, as they say!
You couldn’t fault anyone who might have under performed, but there simply wasn’t anyone in that category. They all did well. However, the “particularly well” category was a full enough place too, with Mark Kelly, Tomas Breen, Richie Reid, Owen McGrath and Padraig Keating members of that club.
Centre-back Joey Holden was looking strong and promising too, but he suffered a concussion during the first half and didn’t show after the break.
NUI Galway had first use of the strong wind, and after twice sharing parity during the opening six minutes, they pressed and threatened most up until the break. The shooting of seven wides prevented them from being more ahead than the 0-10 to 0-8 they were at the break.
Joseph Cooney at midfielder was their big player in more ways than one, and there were times when he had a huge influence on the game. Niall Burke, Kevin Downes and Brian Flaherty were massive performers as well.
Kilkenny might have been level at half-time had they enjoyed more luck in the 17th minute. Shane Maher intercepted a loose, short puck-out by the visitors, but when he put John Power clear on the left the ball ran away on the Carrickshock lad and a great chance of a goal was lost.
A brace of points from frees by Niall Burke upped the divide to four (0-12 to 0-8) by the 40th minute. It was the same as the clock hit the 50 minute mark (0-13 to 0-9), with Burke now more certain on the frees while the visitors defence was playing really well.
A foul on Matt Ruth produced a point for Power, and a second score from the same player added pace to the home charge. A delivery from Mark Kelly was turned into a point by Shane Donnelly (first score from play in the second half; 54th minute) before Richie Reid landed a terrific equaliser from distance.
The students pulled ahead again, via a pair of points from Burke. They conceded the closing four scores to Power (3) and Mark Bergin, which sent them away empty handed. Their win over Westmeath the previous week was no fluke. NUI are a decent team! Scorers: Kilkenny - John Power (0-8, seven frees); Richie Reid (0-3, one free); Shane Donnelly, Mark Kelly, Matt Ruth, Shane Maher, Martin Power, Mark Bergin (0-1 each). NUIG - Niall Burke (0-9, eight frees); Dean Higgins, Kevin Downes (0-2 each); Joseph Cooney, Aaaron Cunningham (0-1 each). Kilkenny - Aaron Duggan (Dicksboro), Jason Corcoran (John Lockes), Padraig Keating (Erin’s Own), Brian Kennedy (St Lachtain’s), Conor Martin (Emeralds), Joey Holden (Ballyhale Shamrocks), Owen McGrath (John Lockes), Tomas Breen (St Martin’s), Richie Reid (Ballyhale Shamrocks), Mark Bergin (O’Loughlin Gaels), Mark Kelly (O’Loughlin Gaels), Rory Hickey (Lisdowney), Matt Ruth (James Stephens), Shane Maher (Dicksboro), John Power (Carrickshock). Subs – Martin Power (Piltown) for Hickey (inj) 13th min; Ger Teehan (Graigue-Ballycallan) for Holden (inj) ht; Shane Donnelly (St Lachtain’s) for Maher 41st min.
Unused subs – Jack Nolan (O’Loughlin Gaels), Robert Lennon (Bennettsbridge), Eoin Doyle (Rower-Inistioge), Kevin Walsh (Piltown), Paddy Butler (O’Loughlin Gaels), David Burke (O’Loughlin Gaels), Enda Morrissey (Bennettsbridge), Conor Joyce (Rower-Inistioge), Nollaig Brophy (Piltown), Jack McGrath (James Stephens), Eoin Bergin (St Patrick’s).
Management – Richie Mulrooney (manager); Adrian Final, Brian Ryan (selectors), Niall Lacey (training). NUIG - Donal Touhy, David Magner, Eoin Fahy, Kevin Moynihan, Liam Markham, Brian Flaherty, Sean McCormack, Joseph Cooney, Eamon Glynn, Dean Higgins, Niall Burke, Kevin Downes, Aaaron Cunningham, Ger O’Donoghue, Niall Deasy. Sub - Eoin Teagle for O’Donoghue 58th min. Referee - B. Gavin (Offaly).