O’Loughlin Gaels claimed their third senior hurling league victory in as many matches on Saturday when they swept aside Tullaroan.
The winners put on a display of attacking hurling that bordered on perfection. Wasting only six attempts, Tullaroan were always going to struggle in the space created by the constant running of the O’Loughlin’s forwards.
Goalkeeper Stephen Murphy opened the scoring for the winners with a strike from distance. Mark Bergin and Mark Walsh traded frees but the space was already being formed for O’Loughlin’s, and Conor Bergin happily exploited it for his first of the game.
The St John’s Park outfit grabbed the opening goal when a angled delivery from Brian Hogan was met with a sharp flick by Sammy Johnston who, from the edge of the square, sent the ball dipping into the left corner of the goal.
Mark Walsh struggled to keep his side from falling further behind; his frees being the only source of ammunition for Tullaroan. When David Burke got the slightest sniff at goal, he galloped through the heart of the Tullaroan defence and arrowed his shot into the net.
Paddy Deegan cut through the middle and added a score from midfield, before late switch to the side, Brian Dowling pointed. Martin Walsh nabbed Tullaroan’s first score from open play after 23 minutes, but it was quickly cancelled as the resulting puck-out was picked up by Mark Nolan, who is currently enjoying a rich vein of form, for a good score.
Nolan was operating at full-forward. His constant drifting to the wings opened space behind the Tullaroan full-back line. This cost with the early goals. Jack Nolan was also giving his opponent a hard time, as the experienced centre-back was struggling between holding the middle and tracking the supercharged Nolan.
Bergin and Dowling tacked on a couple of scores so that O’Loughlin’s went in at the break leading by 2-10 to 0-8, which was a deserving lead.
Tullaroan performed much better in the second half. Peter Walshe set the tone with a lovely strike after a minute. Padraig Walsh added to that when he took the ball in sweetly before unleashing an effort from the left which sailed over the bar.
Kelly was constantly setting up scores, his terrific work rate allowing others to make the score sheet. Conor Bergin benefitted from Kelly’s work as he plucked the ball from the sky and timed the release with the run of Bergin. Paddy Deegan got arguably the score of the game when Jason Quan spotted his run 70 metres away and put the ball into Deegan’s stride. The youngster calmly pointed to extend the lead to 11.
Tullaroan were stubborn, yet they still struggled in the forwards. Their first goal was similar to O’Loughlin’s. A long ball dropping into the square was met by Martin Walsh, and it was a score. Two minutes into injury time Padraig Walsh added a second goal when Martin was fouled for a 20 metre free.
A Mark Bergin free ended the game. Tullaroan’s two consolation goals did little to take the gloss off a convincing win for O’Loughlin’s.
Scorers: O’Loughlin’s - Mark Bergin (0-10, frees); Sammy Johnston (1-1); Brian Dowling (0-4); Conor Bergin (0-3); David Burke (1-0); Paddy Deegan (0-2); Jack Nolan, Mark Kelly (0-1 each). Tullaroan - Mark Walsh (0-10, eight frees, one 65); Padraig Walsh (1-2, goal free); Martin Walsh (1-1); Josh Moore, Peter Walshe (0-1 each).
O’Loughlin Gaels - Stephen Murphy, Gary Bryan, Eoghan Grant, Eddie Kearns, Paddy Butler, Brian Hogan, Jason Quan, Paddy Deegan, Mark Bergin, Conor Bergin, Jack Nolan, Sammy Johnston, David Burke, Mark Kelly, Brian Dowling.
Tullaroan - Richie Butler, Paddy Campion, Tommy Walsh, Diarmuid Doheny, David Dowling, Stephen Maher, Richie Maher, Jack Keoghan, Padraig Walsh, Mark Walsh, Martin Walsh, Paul Buggy, Peter Walshe, Shane Cuddihy, Jimmy Coogan. Subs - John Walton, Tommy Walsh, Josh Moore