Premier Intermediate Hurling Championship - Round 5

Kildimo/Pallaskenry 0-21 Cappamore 0-21
Our Premier Intermediate hurlers remain unbeaten and on top of the table after a high-scoring game in the Gaelic Grounds this afternoon! Despite some high quality scores taken by both sides, this was an error-strewn game, with a Cappamore side needing a victory to remain in contention fighting for every ball. A strong wind was also a major factor in how the game played out, in both halves.

Shaun Barry, who was very accurate on the frees all afternoon, opened the scoring with a pointed free after Darren O’Connell was fouled but Cappamore were quick to respond with a free of their own. From the resulting puckout, we would create the first goal chance of the game when Dylan Corrigan found Jack O’Keeffe inside in the full-forward line, but his shot flashed narrowly over the bar. A second free for Cappamore was quickly followed by their first score from play, after good pressure exerted by their forwards on our backs. However, we would soon be back on level terms when Shaun Barry did very well to win the dirty ball and popped it out to Liam Griffin to score from out on the right wing. Cappamore would then really begin to use their wind advantage to bomb puckouts deep inside our territory, and they would rattle off a couple of scores without reply.

We would pull a score back with another free from Shaun Barry after Kyle Hayes was fouled. Shortly after Cappamore scored another free, Kyle got in on the act from open play, his first in what would be an exceptional display from the young centre-forward. His brother Cían, at wing-back, also put in a towering performance and was crucial to preventing a Cappamore goal in the first half when it looked like they had got in behind our cover. Cappamore were punishing errors with scores and we were finding it hard to get into any rhythm. However, we did cut the gap to a point again with probably our best move of the game to date. Kyle did well to win dirty ball around the middle of the field, he played the ball inside to Peter Nash, who drove forward into space before popping the ball outside to Conor Staff, who fired straight over the bar.

Cappamore responded instantly with a point of their own, before they generated another goal opportunity. A two-on-one was created inside but their forward’s shot was tame and John Chawke made the save, with Barry O’Connell getting back to sweep up the danger. It was a warning sign and not long after, John was forced to concede a ’65 after a dangerous ball dropped in around the square, which was duly converted. This opened their lead out to three points, the most it would be for the day. Over the next five minutes, we would dominate and rally off three scores in a row to draw level. Firstly, Darren O’Connell was sandwiched between two Cappamore players, which allowed Shaun Barry to convert yet another free.

Darren really caused his marker a lot of bother with his pace and movement and having already been fouled twice, he then got his first point of the day, picking up a ball from Conor Staff, to reduce the gap to just a single point. After Kyle Hayes was fouled around the middle of the field, Shaun Barry dropped the free in around the square. Although Cappamore emerged with the ball initially, Dylan Corrigan then forced a great turnover from the Cappamore corner-back. Shaun Barry picked up the loose ball and fed Darren O’Connell, who levelled the game with his second point of the game. From there onwards, it was almost point-for-point for the rest of the half. Cappamore were still getting their scores and using the wind to their advantage, but Darren linked up well with Kyle Hayes for Kyle to strike over his second point of the afternoon.

Dylan Corrigan became our seventh player to get on the scoresheet when he fired over from the right-hand side after good work from Shaun Barry, which put us into the lead for the first time in a while. Cappamore drew back level with a point from the corner-forward and then went back into the lead with another free. Kyle Hayes then plucked a John Chawke puckout cleanly from the sky, turned and bore down on goal before firing straight over the bar. After two quickfire points from Cappamore before the break, we finished in style with an excellent team move. Dylan Corrigan picked up a break from a John Chawke puckout and played a handpass inside to the onrushing Kyle Hayes. Kyle was able to spoon the ball inside to Shaun Barry, who flashed it straight over the crossbar. This left the half-time score: Kildimo/Pallaskenry 0-13 Cappamore 0-14.

We had the wind in the second half but Cappamore dropped a sweeper back in front of our full-forward line and this did disrupt some of the flow of our play, while also taking away some of their scoring threat. Our opponents would not score from play in the second half, which is credit to our backs, although we will be frustrated with the nature of some of the frees that we conceded.

We did start the second half slightly on top, with Kyle Hayes causing havoc in the middle third. When Kevin O’Connell burst out of defence, he was able to feed Kyle who struck the ball over the bar off his right side. He would follow this up with another score to put us into the lead: Conor Staff did well to make an interception, Kyle himself turned the ball over with an excellent flick before running through the middle and firing over the bar. Our lead extended to two points after Dylan Corrigan ran at the Cappamore defence and was fouled, Shaun Barry continuing his excellent record on the frees. But Cappamore were still managing to win frees and stayed within touching distance, their freetaker managing to hit the next two scores in a row.

The game was very stopstart in the middle third of the second half, with the referee having to throw the ball in a number of times. Cappamore didn’t have a sniff of a goal chance in the second half but similarly, their extra man in defence was making it very difficult for us to create a goal chance of our own. Darren O’Connell won another free which was converted by Shaun Barry but just a minute later, Cappamore were back on level terms with another free. Then, we would get that goal chance, the only one that fell their way in the second half. Keel Moloney delivered the ball into the full-forward line, and the ball broke as far as Jack O’Keeffe’s whose instinctive shot was well-saved by the goalkeeper! Good work rate for our forwards did force the Cappamore back to foul the ball in, and Shaun struck over another free.

Again, we couldn’t extend our lead and Cappamore levelled with another free before we scored our first point from play in a while. Liam Griffin picked up a break before the ball was retrieved by Kyle Hayes and he opened the shoulders to score an absolutely brilliant point from out the field. That was his sixth point from play, a remarkable tally, one better than his last outing. However, Cappamore would again level things with a free and we started to hit a couple of bad wides. We had a wide from out on the left wing, another shot hooked and one blocked in front of goal. When our twentieth point did arrive, it was one of the scores of the game: Keel Moloney picked up a loose ball and found Barry O’Connell with a handpass whose pass up the line found Kyle Hayes in a bit of space. Kyle picked out Shaun Barry with a clever low pass; Shaun, who but in a big shift, wheeled and turned his marker before popping outside to Cían Hayes, who had made a great support run and fired over the bar!

It was a brilliant score but again, we couldn’t extend that advantage out to two points even though we had chances. A dogged Cappamore side dug in and eventually won another free to level matters before Kyle Hayes drew a belt as he took on his man down the right touchline; Shaun Barry striking over his seventh free of the game. But just as the clock ticked past sixty minutes, Cappamore were awarded another free to level the game. John Chawke struck the puckout but referee Johnny Murphy blew the full-time whistle, meaning that things ended level.

While it is good to maintain an unbeaten record, it was disappointing not to get the win and the performance was below the standards which have been set by this team in recent weeks. Cappamore were desperate for a win and very nearly eked one out, they were certainly up for the fight, even if, from our point of view, we never really looked like losing in the second half and would have been disappointed not to hang on for the win. However, despite this air of disappointment, we do remain top of the group and have a number of items to focus on remedying ahead of the last fixture against Dromin/Athlacca in two weeks time!

Team: John Chawke; Luke O’Keeffe, Tony McCarthy, Kevin O’Connell; Cían Hayes (0-1), Barry O’Connell, Keel Moloney; Peter Nash, Liam Griffin (0-1); Conor Staff (0-1), Kyle Hayes (0-6), Shaun Barry (0-8, 0-7 frees); Jack O’Keeffe (0-1), Darren O’Connell (0-2), Dylan Corrigan (0-1)

Subs: Cathal Downes for Conor Staff (41 mins)