‘Tis a well-worn cliché, but it has a basis. Goals win matches. In Tom Ryall Park on Saturday, O’Loughlin Gaels made them count.
The St John’s Park outfit rattled three majors into the Tullaroan net that went a long way to deciding this senior hurling championship first round replay, writes Barrie Henriques.
Tullaroan couldn’t manage one, and in an over-simplification of the obvious, that was the reason the City side marched on. For 45 minutes the it was anything but a good game. It was pebble-dashed with poor decision-making, atrocious off-loading of hard won ball and wayward shooting.
There was little to applaud. A couple of nuggets certainly, but little else. The scoreboard read after 20 minutes: Tullaroan 0-3, O’Loughlin’s 0-3.
However one would have to be impressed with the dash and skill of O’Loughlin’s forward, Mark Kelly. He is a class act. He bagged three goals. He was the only forward that ever looked likely of doing so.
His first goal in the 20th minute was a gem. A long delivery into the Tullaroan defence was tapped down to him by the incomparable Martin Comerford. Kelly, anticipating the knock-down, sent the net dancing with a great strike on the bouncing ball.
In that first half gallant Tullaroan contributed to their own demise. Their passing was too wayward. On at least four occasions when they were thundering upfield their final hand-pass was either behind the receiver or into the hands of an opponent.
Mark Walsh kept Tullaroan in the contest with some good free-taking. Nevertheless, their first half take was a meagre five points. The winners had 2-4 registered at the break, with Kelly grabbing 2-2.
Tullaroan re-emerged with a new format. Tommy Walsh went to number 10. Diarmuid Doheny went to four, while Eddie Campion took up guard duty at number 6. They needed a good restart.
Tullaroan made gains, but couldn’t grab booty. Pauric Walsh shot a point, but they shot three poor wides in succession, while Mark Bergin gave some relief to a hard-pressed defence by slamming over a long-range free. Tullaroan were still inside the O’Loughlin half trying for all they were worth, but again, Niall McEvoy stunted their ambitions with a smashing point.
By the 45th minute Tullaroan had the lead reduced to four points. By the 47th minute the lead was whittled to one puck of a ball. But it was never going to be better.
An O’Loughlin’s attack saw the ball squirted up to Kelly. His shot found the target. That was that. Tullaroan fought the brave fight, but it was not to be. O’Loughlin’s never flinched from the challenge.
The best defender was Eoghan Grant, while Paddy Butler had a super game. Mark Bergin hit frees well, and Martin Comerford is the ideal leader for this developing outfit. Kelly oozed class, while Niall McEvoy had a good outing.
Tullaroan were honest and brave. Eddie Campion, Steven Maher, Richie Maher, Mark Simpson and Richard Maher were very good. Padraig, Martin and Mark Walsh were as good as they were allowed to be.
O’Loughlin Gaels - Stephen Murphy, Eoghan Grant, Anthony Forristal, Eddie Kearns, Paddy Butler, Brian Hogan, Niall Bergin, Mark Bergin (0-6, five frees), Jack Nolan, Mark Kelly (3-2), Niall McEvoy (0-1), Alan Geoghegan, Danny Loughnane, Shamie Cummins, Martin Comerford. Subs - David Burke for A. Geoghegan; Conor Bergin for S. Cummins; Jason Quan for D. Loughnane.
Tullaroan - Richard Holland, Paddy Campion, Tommy Walsh (0-2), Eddie Campion, Mark Simpson, Stephen Maher, Richard Maher, David Dowling, Ken Coogan, Martin Walsh (0-1), Padraig Walsh (0-2), Shane Cuddihy, Mikey Maher, Jimmy Coogan (0-1, free), Mark Walsh (0-8, six frees). Subs - Peter Walsh for M. Maher; Diarmuid Doheny for P. Campion (inj); Paul Buggy for J. Coogan.
Referee - R. Dowling.