Focussed Fenians send out warning that they want to bounce back senior straight away

Gillian Mooney

Reporter:

Gillian Mooney

Email:

sport@kilkennypeople.ie

The Hurling  League - the story now

Experience was crucial when Fenians (Johnstown) got their bid for a quick return to the senior grade off to a flying start.

Against a largely young Graigue-Ballycallan side, the Fenians, who were relegated last season, made their experience pay in this opening round game in the intermediate hurling league.

Graigue featured four minor players in this tie in Tullaroan on Saturday, and while they were all game, it was a tough ask against a team like Fenians.

The opening half was evenly contested. Graigue got off to a good start thanks to points from Billy Ryan and Willie O'Connor.

Following sustained pressure, Fenians hit back for five points from frees by Mark Webster to jump in front.

Great save

The boost Graigue badly needed came in the 17th minute when, after a defence splitting move between a number of players, Ciaran Ryan in the goal pulled off a great save.

He advanced from his line to block what looked a certain goal for Fenians as Sean Tobin was about to shoot. Hoyne pulled off a fine body block.

The ball was whipped smartly up the field where Colum Prendiville grabbed it before shooting a lovely point. Sean O'Dwyer and Billy Ryan added to it to give their team a huge lift.

A small score from Mark Webster (free) drew sharp replies in the shape of an 80 metre point from Sean O'Dwyer and a spectacular sideline cut from Billy Ryan from 50 metres.

This big finish saw Graigue lead by 0-7 to 0-6 at the interval.

The losers were now full of confidence. They opened the second half with points from minor stars, Sean Ryan and Jessie Roberts to really lay down a challenge to the opposition.

Cool Fenians hit back smartly. They shot 1-2 through Mark Webster, Kieran Grehan and a goal from Niall Carroll after a quickly taken lineball was not dealt with by the Graigue defence.

A magnificent goal from Sean O'Dwyer for Graigue suggested a tight finish was on the cards.

Fenians were having none of it. They finished strongly, adding a further 1-5.

The goal was claimed by Sean Tobin in the 50th minute. Graigue could muster but one reply from a Sean O'Dwyer free.

Strong and focussed

The Fenians looked strong and focussed.

They were well served by Cormac Ryan, J.J. Delaney and Rory Phelan in defence, Niall Carroll in midfield and Conor and Darragh Tobin further forward.

Kieran Grehan and Mark Webster were two of their brightest stars.

Graigue, despite their tender years, were game throughout.

Ciaran Hoyne, who made his first start in goal, pulled off three great saves and distributed the ball well. Darragh Egan, Tommy Ronan and James Ryall were utterly defiance in defence.

Played well

Billy Ryan made a lot of things happen at midfield while Willie O'Connor and Sean O'Dwyer also did well.

Youngsters Sean Ryan and Jesse Roberts served notice of their potential by making fine contributions to the team effort.

SCORERS: Fenians - Mark Webster (0-8, seven frees); Kieran Grehan (0-3); Niall Carroll, Sean Tobin (1-0 each); Michael Carroll, Conor Tobin (0-1 each). Graigue-Ballycallan - Sean O'Dwyer (1-3, points frees); Billy Ryan (0-3); Sean Ryan, Colum Prendiville, Jesse Roberts, Willie O'Connor (0-1 each).

Fenians - James Dermody; Cormac Ryan, J.J. Delaney (capt), Eoin Phelan; Declan Brennan, John Henderson, Rory Phelan; Michael Carroll, Niall Carroll; Conor Tobin, Willie Brennan, Darragh Tobin; Mark Webster, Kieran Grehan, Sean Tobin.

Graigue-Ballycallan - Ciarán Hoyne; Darragh Egan (capt), Ger Teehan, Tommy Ronan; Shane Butler, James Ryall, Richard Keoghan; Billy Ryan, Philip Cahill; Willie O'Connor, Colum Prendiville, Vinny Teehan; Jesse Roberts, Sean O'Dwyer, Sean Ryan.

Referee - Eamon Mansfield.