This fairly lively All County junior hurling league game in Kilmacow on Saturday was interesting most of the way. There were also plenty of occasions when it was much more.
The losers played a nice brand of hurling, and one could with justification make a creditable argument that the finishing score somewhat flattered the home side. But I would not be one such. The game hinged on the collective abilities of defences to defend with discipline, awareness, concentration and courage.
One side fell down on the concentration demand as Kilmacow tore holes through the heart of the visiting attack. Time and again promising forward movement by the Boro attackers cum midfielders foundered on the crags that were the collective of the Kilmacow defenders.
Richie O’Neill mustered the boys on the last line, and he had plenty to say to the lads further out from his goal. I hadn’t seen the young full-back Conor Dowling before, but I liked his concentration, his directness and obvious confidence. Apparently he has been in Australia for a number of years.
Beside him, Brian Flynn worked hard at cleaning up, while Ian Aherne in the unfamiliar role of wing back was excellent. Paddy O’Keeffe and Dean Power presented a major deterrent to Dicksboro’s progress towards O’Neill et al. If one were to be charged with writing the headline for this one, it might read ‘Gaule hat trick burns the Boro’. Shane Gaule had one of those games you would dream about.
He slammed home goals in the 10th, 26th and 43rd minutes. Most were crafted by tearaway centre-forward, Luke Harney. One or even two could be classified as fortuitous, but I never saw the word on a scoreboard. Harney fired everything towards the Boro goal at every opportunity, and there was plenty.
Shay Dempsey posted five delightful points. The Boro worked hard throughout. Some were not as good as many of the winning side, but they still ploughed forward at every available opening. Cillian Breathneach was unfortunate with conceding three goals, but it could have been worse. Michael Hayes bought a tartar in Gaule. Michael Rafter and Kevin Nolan and Cillian Star never took a backward step.
Up front Derek O’Gorman, Ger O’Donoghue and James Murphy showed flashes of what their capabilities were, but it was never going to suffice against a good defence. By the 15th minute Dicksboro were still at the races with only a puck of a ball between the sides.
Two sweet points by Shay Dempsey stretched the Kilmacow lead to five by the 20th minute, and then Gaule’s second goal arrived in the 26th minute. Ger O’Donoghue was doing his best with good free-taking, but good free-taking was not going to hole the Kilmacow ship below the Plimsoll line. It needed more.
At half time Kilmacow looked home and hosed as they led by 2-9 to 0-5. A smart start by the Boro to the second half fizzled out. There was no doubting the outcome in the 43rd minute when Gaule stitched the third major.
At the risk of being repetitious, I still maintain that the standards of most junior hurling matches in the county are entertaining and excellent. Both sides gave very good value for money.
Scorers: Kilmacow - Shane Gaule (3-2); Shay Dempsey (0-5); Luke Harney (0-2); Richie McNamara (0-3, two frees); Andy Kearns, Dylan Cooke (0-1 each). Dicksboro - Ger O’Donoghue (0-4, two frees); Michael Rafter (0-3, frees); Shane O’Brien, James Murphy (0-2 each); Cillian Starr, Jamie Lynch (0-1 each); Derek O’Gorman (0-1, penalty).
Kilmacow - Richie O’Neill, Brian Flynn, Conor Dowling, Ryan McKenna, Ian Aherne, Paddy O’Keeffe, Dean Power, Sean Flynn, Emmett Blanchfield, Andy Kearns, Luke Harney, Dylan Cooke, Richie McNamara, Shane Gaule, Shay Dempsey. Subs - Shane Harney, Diarmuid Dwyer, Jack Maguire, Paul Laffin.
Dicksboro - Cillian Breathneach, Ruairi Glynn, Michael Hayes, James Gettins, Kevin Nolan, Evan Guilfoyle, Michael Rafter, Phil Hogan, Cillian Starr, Shane O’Brien, Derek O’Gorman, Graham Egan, Ger O’Donoghue, Peter Turley, James Murphy. Subs - Jamie Lynch, Peter Fitzpatrick, Drew Phelan, Gary Lynch, Ruairi Morrissey.