Lisdowney did as all expected they would, which was to qualify for the county junior hurling final, and with a bit to spare at that.
One of the fancied sides from the start of the year duly showed their liberal talents when they proved too good for James Stephens in this semi-final in Nowlan Park on Saturday.
The winners literally breezing past an inexperienced Village side, to qualify for their first junior decider since 2008
Truth to tell, the game failed to sparkle. Lisdowney outclassed their opponents with minimal effort. Led by the roaming, ever dangerous Rory Hickey, they drew first blood as last minute change Lar Carroll shot over after four minutes.
Another late inclusion, Edward Kenny pointed his first of four when he followed up with a point soon after. Aaron Fogarty, star forward of the Lisdowney under-21 side two years ago, converted a placed ball and the striped men were set on a firm course towards victory.
After 10 minutes they doubled their lead. A piercing run by Edward Kenny carved apart The Village defence. He popped a perfectly timed lay off to Ciaran Mackey. The latter planted the ball in the bottom left corner of the goal.
A Fogarty point from a 65 pushed them further ahead as The Village struggled in many sectors. Even at such an early stage, Lisdowney never looked like losing.
Two scores from Conor McQuillan got James Stephens off the mark. There was no respite for them, however. Edward Kenny shot over his second point in reply for Lisdowney.
Hickey pointed his first of the game after that. McQuillan followed up with a further couple of placed ball conversions. Kenny and Hickey cancelled out McQuillan’s efforts before Harry Wallace boomed over a sweet score from left half back.
Lisdowney went in at the break leading by 1-8 to 0-5. The score didn’t lie. They had dominated the opening half.
Their forwards had linked up well, with late changes Pat Carroll and Edward Kenny too easily able to escape the clutches of their markers.
The second half scoring started like the first. Lisdowney had their shooting sights spot on. The shot over the bar twice in as many minutes, courtesy of Pat Carroll and Hickey.
’Stephens pulled themselves up a bit when a Conor McQuillan 20 metre free found the net after 40 minutes. The goal failed to revitalise The Village, however as Lisdowney quickly picked up the pace again.
Back in groove
The winners simply threw over a few points and they were back in the groove again. A point from Carroll and four in-a-row from the unerring Hickey kept Lisdowney steaming towards the finish line.
Ricci Drennan pointed for the city side, his effort being their eighth point of the day. Two additional Hickey points meant that the game was way beyond the losers reach.
Alan Tyrrell and Edward Kenny finished off the scoring, but the ticket into the final was long in the pocked of Lisdowney.
At the finish Lisdowney were nine points the better side, but on the evidence of this showing, their efforts might not be good enough to beat the impressive Bennettsbridge, who they now face in the final.
This match will serve as a perfect platform for the team’s confidence, however. Lisdowney will realise they have work to do before the final in two weeks time.
The disappointing challenge from the losers didn’t over tax any part of the Lisdowney. The players should be fresh and eager for the big test that lies ahead.
Scorers: Lisdowney - Rory Hickey (0-9, 0-4 frees); Edward Kenny (0-4); Lar Carroll (0-3); Ciaran Mackey (1-0); Aaron Fogarty (0-2, one free, one 65). James Stephens - Conor McQuillan (1-6, 1-5 frees); Harry Wallace, Alan Tyrrell, Ricci Drennan (0-1 each).
Lisdowney - Niall Grogan, Niall O’Hara, Martin Phelan, Niall Mackey, Padraig Kenny, Sean Phelan, Peter Bergin, Pat Carroll, Kevin Sweeney, Ciaran Mackey, Lar Carroll, Aaron Fogarty, Michael Kenny, Rory Hickey, Edward Kenny. Subs - Paddy Bowden, Vinny Fitzpatrick, Eddie Hickey, Ray Fitzpatrick.
James Stephens - Gavin Costigan, Shane O’Neill, Paddy Butler, Alan Tyrrell, James Tyrrell, Philly Larkin, Eoin Holohan, Harry Wallace, David Hennessy, Conor McQuillan, Niall Mullins, Maurice Harkin, Mattie McWey, Ray Lahart, Ricci Drennan. Subs - Dylan O’Shea.
Referee - Maurice Flynn (Mooncoin).