The margin of victory margin was smaller than it might have been, but Graigue-Ballycallan were not complaining.
They deservedly picked up another brace of intermediate hurling league points when overcoming Conahy Shamrocks in Clara on Saturday.
In a tie that never reached any great heights, the Ballycallan men were on top from the opening moments, but thy came perilously close at the finish to squandering one of the league points on offer with some wayward shooting.
The winners started well and prised open the Conahy rearguard after two minutes. The telling move started with a midfield delivery, and when Billy Ryan stole a march on his marker to gain possession his exquisite lay-off to Willie O’Connor gave Paraic Delaney in the Conahy goal no chance.
Conahy responded well with points from James Bergin and Edmond Delaney to reduce the margin to the minimum.
The Northerners did not help their cause by conceding far too many frees. The accurate Thomas Ryan punished every indiscretion with consummate ease from all angles.
Graigue Ballycallan’s ability to win high balls, especially from Conahy puck-outs, was a telling factor in the outcome. Too often a number of Conahy players contested their own puck-outs, leaving an opponent unmarked to pick up the breaking ball.
Pointed frees from Thomas Ryan and Bob Murphy edged the winners ahead (1-5 to 0-3) by the 12th minute.
Conahy’s best spell came during the next five minutes with a brace of points from frees from Shane Brennan and another from Edmond Delaney.
Conahy, though did not build on that momentum. The winners finished the half impressively with points from Eddie Brennan and another from a Thomas Ryan points.
Both scores came following unforced errors from Conahy when poor handling gave the advantage to their opponents.
The key score in the second half was a replica of the first Graigue Ballycallan goal.
It came midway through the half from some delightful inter-passing among three forwards, with Billy Ryan eventually shooting a well-engineered goal.
The winners now held a firm grip on the game but erratic play and poor decision making kept the tie alive. Shane Brennan and Bill Murphy for Conahy and Vinny Teehan and James Ryall for Ballycallan pointed to leave five between the sides with seven minutes remaining.
As the game ebbed to a conclusion Graigue Ballycallan were comfortably in control, but they needlessly conceded a close-in free. When James Bergin’s well-struck shot ended up in the back of the winners net it left just the minimum between the sides.
Conahy had a late opportunity to engineer what would have been the levelling score, but they squandered possession in the middle of the field.
From the resultant play yet another careless free was conceded by Conahy and Bob Murphy pointed from 70 metres.
There was no doubting the superiority of the winners, but they will need to improve their accuracy in front of goal if they are to make an impact in the upcoming championship.
Darragh Egan, Ger Teehan and Bob Murphy were rock-solid defenders while others who impressed were Thomas Ryan, Billy Ryan, Dara Walton and Willie O’Connor.
The league has been hugely disappointing for Conahy, who suffered five straight losses.
They now face into the championship and a relegation tie against nice moving Thomastown hoping for a change of fortune.
Graigue Ballycallan are save, and now they face Dunnamaggin in the first round of the championship with their status guaranteed for next season.
Best on Saturday were Kieran Mooney, Brian Healy, Gary Kavanagh, Donal Brennan, Edmond Delaney and James Bergin.
SCORERS: Graigue-Ballycallan - Thomas Ryan (0-5, frees); Billy Ryan, Willie O’Connor (1-0 each); Bob Murphy (0-2, frees); Eddie Brennan (0-2); James Ryall, Vinny Teehan, Sean O’Dwyer (0-1 each). Conahy Shamrocks - Shane Brennan (0-6, five
frees); James Bergin (1-3); Edmond Delaney (0-2); Damien Webster, Bill Murphy (0-1 each).
Graigue-Ballycallan - P.J. Trant; Darragh Egan, Bob Murphy, Dara Walton; Eamonn Egan, Ger Teehan, Shane Butler; Adrian Burke, Thomas Ryan; Colum Prendiville, James Ryall, Vinny Teehan; Billy Ryan, Willie O’Connor, Eddie Brennan. Sub: Conor Murphy, Sean O’Dwyer.
Conahy Shamrocks - Paraic Delaney; Simon Callinan, Kieran Mooney, Philly Cass; Donal Brennan, Brian Healy, Ollie Feehan; Alan Healy, Gary Kavanagh; Paddy Mullan, Damien Webster; Edmond Delaney; Shane Brennan, Peter Dollard; James Bergin. Subs: Paul Buggy, Bill Murphy, Eoin Carroll.
Referee – John Walsh (Rower-Inistioge).