A POWERFUL Mullinavat outfit, warm favourites beforehand, emerged as comprehensive 13-point victors over Thomastown United on Friday in Hugginstown in this South junior ‘A’ hurling quarter-final by 2-18 to 1-8.
The margin did not flatter them and they will take a lot of stopping in this grade. That said, this meeting’s contour was curious, in that Mullinavat led by only four points at half-time, 1-8 to 1-4, having had a fresh breeze at their back. Given the wind factor, there looked to be the possibility of an upset.
Mullinavat came back out with intent and rubbished that thought by running up 1-4 in eight minutes. At 2-12 to 1-4, the game lost all traction as a contest. Having struck one of those points, Mark Mansfield made a goal for Paddy Raftice in the 34th minute, setting him up with a handpass after a cutting run.
Pádraig Caulfield stopped the rot on 40 minutes with a free. But a stream of ball kept being delivered towards the Thomastown goal, such was the leaders’ dominance at half-back and midfield.
Stayed at their task
That a mere six further points were posted was down to the ’Vat boys throttling back, some over elaboration on their part and ’Town goalkeeper Darragh McGarry’s capability. To their credit, the Nore Valley men stayed at their task but the last 20 minutes were played out as such final quarters happen when the result is no longer in doubt.
It had all looked different on nine minutes when Michael Mahony goaled for Thomastown, having fetched a long delivery to the square. Immediately Pádraig Caulfield was on target with a free, establishing an improbable lead of 1-1 to 0-3.
It was improbable because Mullinavat had dominated the opening minutes and should have registered more than the three points landed by Paddy Raftice, Joe Gahan and a Thomas Aylward 65. Poor shooting and decision making squeezed their tally.
Mahony’s goal seemed to spook them a bit. Even so, they hit back in the 13th minute for a major score of their own, after Gahan produced a good ball in from the left wing. Mark Mansfield capitalized for 1-3 to 1-1.
A run of minor scores from Raftice (free), Nicky Anthony and Mansfield extended the margin to six by the 18th minute. Then Thomastown, improving, had a mini-revival when Caulfield (free) and Gary Lehane pointed in succession.
Upset - maybe
The flying Mansfield pointed again, before Adrian Burke and Raftice (free) exchanged minor scores. With those four points in it at the break, briefly the prospect of that upset glimmered. Mullinavat’s superior class and craft shortly shredded it.
Paddy Jones kept a sound goal for the winners. The defence, strongly led by centre-back Thomas Aylward, hurled well as a unit and won most of their battles.
Nicky Anthony and Simon Aylward had the better of midfield, providing a platform for numerous attacks. All their forwards made incisive contributions, with corner-forwards Mark Mansfield and Paddy Raftice causing most problems.
Thomastown were really well served between the posts by Darragh McGarry, who made several fine saves. The defensive spine of full-back Colin Clarke and centre-back Seán Mahony stayed resolute throughout the second half’s incessant pressure.
Robert O’Hanrahan had his moments at midfield and Adrian Burke improved matters when switched there. Up front, Michael Mahony and Davy Prendergast made the most headway.
Mullinavat - Paddy Jones, Derek Aylward, Gerry Anthony, Derek Kenneally, Robbie Malone, Thomas Aylward (0-2, 65), Liam Murphy (capt), Nicky Anthony (0-1), Simon Aylward, Andrew McGovern, Ger Malone (0-1), Joe Gahan (0-1), Paddy Raftice (1-8, 0-5 frees), Mossie Murphy, Mark Mansfield (1-5). Subs - Brian Kenneally for A. McGovern (52m).
Thomsatown United - Darragh McGarry, Thomas Moore, Colin Clarke, Kieran Treacy, Edward Tennyson, Seán Mahony, Paddy Whitty, Gary Lehane (0-1), Robert O’Hanrahan, Pádraig Caulfield (0-5, frees), Davy Prendergast, Adrian Burke (0-2), Paul Barron, Michael Mahony, capt (1-0), Eóin Manning. Subs - John Fitzgerald for E. Tennyson; Neil O’Meara for E. Manning.
Referee - Maurice Flynn (Mooncoin).