O’Loughlin Gaels 0-16
One of the first county finals of the season was decided in Thomastown on Friday when O’Loughlin Gaels proved a mite too strong for hard-trying Kilmacow in a sporting, well contested junior hurling ‘B’ league showdown in front of a small crowd.
One of the features was the contribution made to the O’Loughlin cause by forward, Nigel Skehan, whose accuracy from placed balls and open play was outstanding. He belted nine balls between the posts from all ranges and distances. One of his strikes was massive, from well over 100 yards just before half time.
He, more than anyone else, made an enormously valuable contribution to the winners cause.
Billy Leydon opened the scoring for the winners with a fine point in the first minute. O’Loughlin’s were not to be headed from there on. Skehan credited his account with his first deposit in the third minute, and even though pointed frees by Emmett Blanchfield evened up matters by the 11th minute, that was as good as it got for the South warriors.
Skehan slammed over five more frees in the first half. Kevin Morrissey got a brace as well and John Doyle and Paddy Deegan shot one each.
Kilmacow were finding the demands onerous during a first half in which they were hard pressed to hang on to the shirt tails of a more impressive city outfit. The best they managed were two points by Sean Ivory and Peter Mullally. At half time O’Loughlin’s led by 0-10 to 0-4.
It was a big lead to afford a better balanced, better hurling O’Loughlin’s.
The second half was more evenly balanced. John Doyle played a prominent role mustering his troops from his midfield position, where he continued to dominate. If Nigel Skehan was the dark destroyer, Billy Leydon was his executioner-in-chief.
He roamed all over the park, and if his contribution is not glaringly obvious from a scoreboard perspective, his selflessness was hugely important. He won plenty of ball, and his distribution was admirable, and valuable. On the day, Skehan was the man.
Kilmacow had a solid spine to their team. Dean Power continues to impress, and his improvement and consistency is blatantly obvious, certainly over the last number of games I have seen him play. Tom Reddy never flinched, and he never met his match all evening. Jimmy Mullally tried hard too, and even though he found himself fighting a lone battle, he never took a backward step.
The damage had been done in the first half from a Kilmacow perspective. Skehen continued to torment Kilmacow through his accuracy, and he got a fair amount of help from Evan Walsh, John Doyle and Morrissey.
The better team won. There can be no excuse offered by a Kilmacow outfit who were out-played, but who never contemplated throwing in the towel.
Scorers: O’Loughlin Gaels - Nigel Skehan (0-9, eight frees); Kevin Morrissey, John Doyle (0-2 each); Billy Leydon, Paddy Deegan, Evan Walsh (0-1 each). Kilmacow - Emmett Blanchfield (0-5, two frees); Josh Tobin (0-2, one free); Jimmy Mullally (0-2, one free); John Ivory, Richard Walsh (0-1 each).
O’Loughlin Gaels - Benny Cleere, Sean Hickey, Michael Lambert, Joe Walsh, Andy Cantwell, Stephen Tyrrell, Padraig Meaney, John Doyle, Kevin O’Brien, Nigel Skehan, Kevin Morrissey, Billy Leydon, Barrie Hogan, Evan Walsh, James O’Keeffe. Sub - Paddy Deegan.
Kilmacow - Dan Connolly, Rob O’Keeffe, Dean Power, Shane Power, Andy Kearns, Tom Reddy, Denis Scully, Josh Tobin, Richard Walsh, Shane Gaule, Peter Mullally, Sean Ivory, John Daniels, Davy Ryan, Emmett Blanchfield. Subs - Stephen O’Keeffe, Mark McGuinness, Ed Irish.
Referee - John Walsh (Rower Inistioge).