Bragging rights as well as a place in the county junior hurling semi-finals were at stake when near neighbours and keen rivals, Barrow Rangers (Paulstown/Goresbridge) and Blacks and Whites (Skeoughvosteen) clashed at sun-kissed Gowran on Saturday.
Games between these teams are usually tense affairs. This one was no different. The result was in the balance up to the final whistle. ’Rangers played opened with the light breeze but it was ’Whites who made a lightening start.
John Lennon nipped in for the opening point inside 30 seconds. Martin Bambrick replied. Every ball was contested with gusto and as a result possession was hard earned. A pointed free from Niall Kennedy put Blacks/Whites back in front before Dermot Maher got his first score.
This state of affairs barely lasted a minute before Michael Moloney restored the lead for Skeough. Dermot Maher then edged ’Rangers in front when he converted firstly a 65 and then a free in the 14th minute. Their lead was short lived. From the puck-out ’Whites worked the sliotar down the pitch and after several well placed passes John Lennon lashed the ball to the net.
Hard to believe, but this was to be their last score from play in the half. ’Rangers responded with a long range point from Richie Doyle. Maher followed with first a converted 65 and then a free to put his side back in front.
Things were all square again in the 20th minute when Niall Kennedy converted a free. Soon after Martin Bambrick for Rangers restored their one point lead. With seven minutes remaining in the half the sides were tied again when Kennedy landed another free.
The last three scores of the half all went the way of the boys in blue. First Thomas Brennan followed by Cathal English and Bambrick all scored points to leave the half-time score reading: Barrow Rangers 0-11, Black and Whites 1-5.
It wasn’t all joy for ’Rangers though. On the stroke of the break full-back Ciarán Doyle, who has been hampered with a hamstring injury all season, pulled up lame. His game was over.
Within 15 seconds of the restart Barrow Rangers were four points clear after a magnificent effort from Ed Prendergast sailed over the bar. It was a five point gap when Maher pointed a free. Michael Moloney reduced the deficit to four shortly after, but almost instantly Bambrick restored the five point gap.
When these sides last met in the league in May, Blacks and Whites came back from the dead to win. They attempted another Lazarus act by scoring the next four points. John Lennon got the ball rolling followed by points from Niall Kennedy, Paul Murphy and a Kennedy free to leave the minimum between the teams.
Dermot Maher stemmed the flow when he put two points on the scoreboard, the second a free. Skeough hit back with four unanswered points. ’Whites introduced Tommy Farrell to the fray and this man never fails to deliver.
Moloney pointed first followed by a Kennedy free. Then that man Farrell split the posts twice, the first one to level the game; the second to take the lead. The cheer that greeted his second point was heard in Skeough. There were 12 minutes of ordinary time left. The losers were rampant. ’Rangers didn’t help their cause when with 10 minutes remaining they were reduced to 14 men. With eight minutes to go Dermot Maher was hauled to the ground while breaking through on goal.
From the resulting 20 metre free he squared the match. Eight minutes of pulsating hurling ensued as the ball flew from end to end. On the 57th minute Bambrick fired ’Rangers back in front. A minute later Cathal English had the ball in the net for ’Rangers after a long delivery broke in behind the full-back line.
English gathered but still had a lot to do as Sean Kealy bore down on him as goalkeeper John O’Grady advanced off his line. While the sliotar didn’t bulge the net, it travelled far enough to go up on the scoreboard and put Barrow Rangers four points up.
With a minute of normal time to go Kennedy pulled one back for Skeough. Three tension fuelled minutes of added time failed to produce a score which left ’Rangers the winners.
For Rangers Martin Bambrick led the charge up front. He was able assisted by Dermot Maher and Cathal English, at the back Ed Prendergast and Patrick Purcell held their own. For Blacks and Whites were best served by Michael Moloney, Niall Kennedy and John Lennon.
Barrow Rangers - Graham English, Tom Brennan, Ciarán Doyle, Ciarán Breen, Patrick Purcell, Richie Doyle, (0-1), Ed Prendergast (0-1), Thomas Brennan (0-1), Cathal Kenny, Martin Bambrick (0-5), Dermot Maher (0-9, two 65s’, five frees), Shane McEvoy, Jason Holden, Cathal English (1-1), Billy Hanlon. Subs - Ger Walsh for S. McEvoy; Thomas Whitely for C. Doyle (inj); Sean McDonald for C. Breen; Michael Whitely for J. Holden.
Blacks and Whites - John O’Grady, Padraig Joyce, Sean Kealy, Joe Kelly, Eddie Murphy, Michael (Crow) Moloney (0-3), James Brennan, Aidan O’Dowd, Michael (Mo) Moloney, Tommy Joyce, Peter Cleere, Paul Murphy (0-1), John Lennon (1-2), Niall Kennedy (0-7, five frees), Jamie Byrne. Sub - Tommy Farrell (0-2). Referee - John Walsh (Rower- Inistioge).