Premier Intermediate Hurling Championship 2019 - Round 1

12/04/2019

Kildimo/Pallaskenry 1-15 Bruree 0-9.


Our Premier Intermediate hurlers began their season with a 9-point victory over Bruree in Mick Neville Park! It’s always good to get off to a good start, and this was a victory that we really had to fight for. As expected, a physically strong Bruree team took the game to us right from the off and they had the better of the opening stages including the opening score. It took us a while to settle but during this period there was some good work from our backs to prevent Bruree from getting more scores, the likes of Kevin O’Connell and Cían Hayes making some big interventions. Liam Griffin settled us with a pointed free, and as we slowly worked our ways into the game, Liam showed some excellent freetaking ability, judging the strong wind to perfection. And then, the first score from play in the game also went our way. Cathal Downes, making his Championship debut, showed frightening pace down the right wing, he recycled to Cían Hayes, who picked out team captain, Barry O’Connell. Barry did brilliantly to step inside his marker to create the space and cut across the ball from way out the field, guiding it inside the upright to give us a three-point lead.


Although Bruree would then hit their first point from play in response, we were now starting to motor and our next score was a lovely-worked team move. It started with John Chawke between the sticks and involved five passes before Peter Nash sprayed a crossfield ball to Adam Butler, who struck the ball beautifully over the bar from way out on the left wing. Peter Nash and Conor Staff were beginning to dominate in the middle third, getting on a lot of ball while Keel Moloney, Cían Hayes and Lorcan O’Leary were breaking every puckout for them and this then gave us the platform to feed our dangerous full-forward line, who would finish with 1-5 from play in difficult conditions. Shaun Barry linked up with Darren O’Connell who scored his first point of the day, before he was fouled for another free converted by Liam. Then, Darren intercepted a Bruree puckout and returned with a vengeance by sending it straight over the bar. Another Bruree free was followed up with another placed ball converted by Liam after Darren had been fouled. Half-time score: Kildimo/Pallaskenry 0-9 Bruree 0-3.


To keep any team to just three points in a half of hurling was impressive, especially since they had a bit of momentum at times and credit must go to the work rate all over the field. The backs were on top, but were helped by some serious effort in the forwards; the likes of Cathal Downes on his Championship debut won a number of turnovers and pressured every clearance. Again, Bruree started the second half well and had a score inside a couple of minutes. The response came from Liam Griffin, who hit his first point from play early in the second half. He was quickest to react to a breaking ball, sidestepped his man and popped it over the bar on what was a fine day of sharpshooting from the youngster. But Bruree were not giving up easily, and they worked and worked and got the next two scores to close the gap to just four points.


At this point, the game was a real battle and we did match their efforts, the likes of Cían Hayes and Peter Nash standing up and showing real leadership. Barry O’Connell then showed his quality by plucking a ball clean from the skies, getting away from his marker and popping a handpass out to Liam, who made no mistake for his second point from play. Shaun Barry also roared into the game during this period, winning a lot of dirty ball and pressuring the Bruree defence and when he set up Adam Butler, Adam was able to fire over the bar. We had prevented goal chances up to that, but when former Limerick senior hurling captain, James O’Brien, broke through our backline, we needed our last line of defence and John Chawke did brilliantly to make the save to stop the goal. Although Bruree would still score two points without reply, that had potential to be a real momentum shifter and John showed his class in making the save.


Again, with the gap at four points, we needed to ensure that we stayed more than a score ahead and Shaun Barry produced a big, big point as he drifted out from centre-forward and landed a point to just halt the Bruree momentum. There was a goal chance when Shaun found Barry O’Connell with a quick groundstrike, but Barry was unlucky to see his own strike go narrowly wide of goal. When Barry was tripped as he broke onto a ball, Liam again made no mistake with the free as we extended our lead out again. Bruree would again score, but Liam then hit another point, bringing his personal tally for the day to nine points, this his third from play. This was probably the best of the lot, firing over from way over on the right touchline, from an extremely acute angle. Darren O’Connell had been a constant threat inside, showing his ability in the air and on the ground and had been unlucky to have an earlier goal chance blocked by Bruree. But when a ball was played diagonally into him, he caught it clean over his man, slipped the challenge and fired one-handed past the goalkeeper for the game’s only goal, bringing his personal tally to 1-2 from play.


Cathal Downes brilliantly won a free from a turnover from the Bruree centre-back, even without his hurley, which really showed the superb attitude of our players. Bruree pinned us back in the last five minutes as they went searching for a goal but the backline held strong with Tony McCarthy, Kevin O’Connell and Luke O’Keeffe safe as houses. They will be happy with not conceding a goal and in the end, a nine-point victory is nothing to be sniffed at! It wasn’t the perfect performance, there were plenty of errors which is to be expected for the first Championship match. But the attitude and work rate was excellent, and this was a game that had to be won as a battle first and foremost. There were some excellent individual performances, but the overall team ethic was superb. Congratulations to all involved, and we look forward to next weekend’s match against Pallasgreen, with a couple more players set to return for selection purposes also.


Team: John Chawke; Luke O’Keeffe, Tony McCarthy, Kevin O’Connell; Keel Moloney, Cían Hayes, Lorcan O’Leary; Conor Staff, Peter Nash; Liam Griffin (0-9, 0-6 frees), Barry O’Connell (0-1), Cathal Downes; Darren O’Connell (1-2), Shaun Barry (0-1), Adam Butler (0-2)


Subs: Dylan Corrigan for Barry O’Connell (58 mins)