A 17TH minute goal that was both brilliant in its execution and yet unfortunate in its concession put easy moving St Patrick’s (Ballyragget) on their way to a comfortable win in this junior hurling championship semi-final in Nowlan Park on Sunday.
The winners looked a more than decent outfit. They had too much hurling know-how for the losers, and when they led by a commanding 1-13 to 0-4 at the break the ticket into the county final against Piltown was already in the bag.
The early exchanges promised much when the sweet striking Michael Brennan and Kevin Kelly threw over points for St Pat’s while fine free taker, David Burke landed one reply for the losers.
However, St Pat’s began to motor strongly from there on. They hit the road with a nice point from a 65 by accurate striking wing-back, Kieran Delaney.
That was followed by nice scores from a flying Michael Brennan and an even more impressive Joe Brennan to swell the divide to 0-5 to 0-1 after a mere 10 minutes.
O’Loughlin’s hit back for a score from a free by Burke before a foul on Michael Brennan earned Kevin Kelly a point at the other end. Already the winners comfort on the ball, and support play for each others, was shining through and they were all but slicing the opposition apart.
Their goal was not far off. It arrived in the 17th minute. The strong running and good ball breaker, Seoirse Kenny, charged towards the losers’ goal and released to Kevin Kelly with the cover totally stretched.
From a bad angle on the left Kelly left fly. The ’keeper, Sammy Johnston did well to get his stick to the ball, but the power in the shot carried it over the line and into the net (1-6 to 0-2).
St Patrick’s ran up a host of good scores after that with Michael Brennan, Kevin Kelly and especially Joe Brennan all playing very well. Their interval lead of 1-13 to 0-4 reflected a lot of good movement, touch and striking by a well coached outfit.
The opening two scores of the new half fell O’Loughlin’s way when David Burke converted two frees. Kieran Delaney replied at the other end before Burke extracted reward for a foul on Jack Nolan (1-14 to 0-7).
After St Patrick’s had a penalty by Kevin Kelly saved in the 40th minute, the losers bounced back to shoot a point at the other end. Joe Brennan and Kevin Kelly hit back at the double for the opposition (1-16 to 0-8) and as the third quarter mark was passed, there was no real hope for the St John’s Park crew.
To O’Loughlin’s credit, they battled away gamely. Rick Leydon scored a good goal in the 46th minute after out running the opposing cover at the country end.
Moments later Jack Nolan brought a wonderful, diving save from St Pat’s ’keeper, Michael Gannon as the losers enjoyed their best spell of the match.
Of course, by this time St Pat’s had begun to withdraw some of their front line troops, a number of who had been involved at under-age level the previous day.
O’Loughlin’s were awarded a penalty in the 52nd minute when Rick Leydon was fouled, but the effort was driven wide. By the time their second goal arrived from Davy Broderick in the last minute the ship into the final had long left as far as they were concerned.
For St Patrick’s this was a very assured performance. Three of their front men, Kevin Kelly, Michael Brennan and Joe Brennan scored 1-15 between, which was some take by any standard. All did well, as did Brian ‘Brooky’ Phelan, although he lost his way at times, Geoff Brennan, Stephen Roberts, Kieran Delaney and Seoirse Kenny, who worked hard at centre-forward and looked ever so comfortable on the ball.
Those who did best for the losers were Paddy Cantwell, Jason Quan, David Burke and Anthony Forristal.
Scorers: St Patrick’s – Kevin Kelly (1-5, three points frees); Joe Brennan (0-7); Michael Brennan (0-3); Kieran Delaney (0-3, two frees, one 65); Bill Staunton, Conor Delaney (0-1 each). O’Loughlin Gaels – David Burke (0-8, six frees, one 65); Rick Leydon, Davy Broderick (1-0 each); Daniel Lenihan (0-1).
St Patrick’s – Michael Gannon, John Mooney, Geoff Morrissey, Steve Staunton, Kieran Delaney, Geoff Brennan, Stephen Roberts, Brian ‘Brooky’ Phelan, James Gannon, Jody Phelan, Seoirse Kenny, Kevin Kelly, Michael Brennan, Bill Staunton, Joe Brennan. Subs – Conor Delaney, Sean Mooney, James Morrissey.
O’Loughlin Gaels – Sammy Johnston, Michael Twomey, Anthony Forristal, Richie Moylan, Stephen Tyrrell, Jason Quan, Paddy Cantwell, Kevin Morrissey, Martin Gibbons, Jack Nolan, Davy Broderick, Andy Cantwell, Rick Leydon, Daniel Lenihan, David Burke. Sub – Padraic Meaney.
Referee – Gavin Quilty (Slieverue).