A GOAL and a save made the difference when elegant junior champions, St Patrick’s (Ballyragget) got the better of last year’s beaten finalists, Rower-Inistioge in this ‘battle of the equals’ in the intermediate hurling championship semi-final replay at Nowlan Park on Sunday, the score being 2-11 to 0-14.
There was nothing between these two fine teams for 40 minutes, but then sweet moving St Patrick’s got the breaks. First they scored their second goal through Michael Brennan to open out a bit of a gap, and then goalie Michael Gannon saved a penalty to preserve the advantage at 2-8 to 0-12.
In those two instances in the 40th and 42nd minutes the game swung in St Patrick’s favour, and they now have the chance to do what they did in 1978 and 1979 when they put junior and intermediate championship wins back to back when they face Clara in the final on Sunday.
The teams’ faces up to each other in this replay having met twice earlier in the season, when a mere one point divided them after two hours of play. It was more of the same at half-time when the score was 0-10 to 1-6 in favour of the losers after things had been level five times.
Drew first blood
The Rower drew first blood through Conor Joyce, who pointed after fielding a high ball. The winners hit the front for the first time in the seventh minute after Bill Staunton finished a move that had been launched by Kevin Kelly by planting the ball in the net.
Four times the scores were level after that before Paul Sheehan’s one point from play during the half – he had seven – divided the teams at the break, 0-10 to 1-6.
Four scores were equally divided during the opening 10 minutes of the new half with Sheehan and Kelly twice swapping points. When the game hit 40 minutes Kevin Kelly got a run at the Rower goal, and when he threw a perfectly weighted hand-pass into a gap, Michael Brennan zipped in right on the button and smashed the ball into the net.
The winners jumped 2-8 to 0-12 ahead.
Boost for Pat’s
Two minutes later the Rower got the benefit of a harsh call and was awarded a penalty when Conor Joyce was tumbled in the area. Michael Joyce’s shot was saved by goalie Gannon, but the two happenings together appeared to boost St Pat’s hugely.
Shortly afterwards Michael Grace tore through the winners defence, but he threw a pass into no man’s land and the ball trickled wide. St Pat’s charged up the field, and when a defender was penalised for over carrying the ball the ever reliable Kelly popped the ball over the bar.
All of a sudden both sides threw caution to the wind in a mad scramble to the finishing line.
The scoring spoils were evenly divided, which left St Pat’s winners by three thanks in the main to the brilliance of such as Kevin Kelly, what a talent he is, Michael Brennan, Stephen Staunton, Geoff Morrissey and Geoff Brennan.
Heroes for the losers were Kieran Joyce, Rory Galavan, Paul Sheehan and Joe Lyng.
Scorers: St Patrick’s – Kevin Kelly (0-7, frees); Michael Brennan (1-2); Barry Staunton (1-0); Geoffrey Brennan, Bill Staunton (0-1 each). Rower-Inistioge – Paul Sheehan (0-10, nine frees); Conor Joyce (0-2); Rory Galavan (0-2).
St Patrick’s – Michael Gannon, John Mooney, Stephen Staunton, Stephen Roberts, Kieran Delaney, Geoff Morrissey, James Gannon, Brian ‘Brooky’ Phelan, Geoffrey Brennan, Michael Brennan, Kevin Kelly, Jody Phelan, Barry Staunton, Bill Staunton, Eoghan Bergin. Subs – Robbie Healy for S. Roberts; Conor Delaney for Jody Phelan; Sean Mooney for Barry Staunton; Brian Mulhall for J. Mooney.
Rower-Inistioge – Liam Tierney, Eoin Doyle, James Doyle, Tommy Grace, Rory Galavan, Kieran Joyce, Mark Moore, Sean Lyster, Joe Lyng, David Lyng, James Cassin, Ciaran Ryan, Michael Grace, Conor Joyce, Paul Sheehan. Subs – Tommy Murphy for D. Lyng; J.J. Kenny for C. Joyce; David Tennyson for C. Ryan.
Referee – John Kennedy.