Hurling, on all sorts of fronts held attention afternoon and evening last weekend. Croke Park was a distant appetiser for the Mid Final, but the fare at Boherlahan satisfied no one but the Drom-Inch element as Loughmore-Castleiney suffered something not unlike last year’s tumble against Sarsfields - goals again a main factor in the heavy loss. The biggest topic on the Divisional scene, though, had to be Anacarty’s emphatic termination of Clonoulty’s long reign in the West. We wait now for the Toomevara v Templederry game next Saturday to finalise the four clubs that will meet the quartet of local runners-up.
An unproductive year for Tipp. at senior and minor was endorsed last midweek by the fate of the Under 21’s as Clare made light of their trip to the Stadium. Kilkenny, with their minor defeat last Sunday, share out three tiered downfall. Only the Intermediate is left to offer a modest place on the season’s roll of honour. I remarked some time back that a year ending in the number three had never produced a senior All-Ireland for Tipp. The spread of the jinx to other grades this year has been a further extension of that unhelpful past history. All “pishogues” and coincidence, no doubt, but we’ve certainly been well short of our ambitions. The manner of Tipp’s crushing of Cork at Under 21 had raised hope vis-a-vis Clare but the Banner was on triumphant display at Thurles, akin to the way they played in beating Kilkenny there a year ago. They go into next Sunday’s clash with Limerick in upbeat mood.
Three Munster counties have the rest of the major championship between them. So the September 8th decider will be a repeat of either the Munster semifinal or the final. To have a pair of already beaten teams involved in the climactic game would be rather odd and unprecedented, but the system allows it. Cork would perhaps prefer to meet Clare than Limerick on the form shown in the provincial meetings.
Cork looked to be in ominously sharpening form in just getting the better of a Dublin who weren’t at all fazed by the size of the occasion and indeed had a third quartet spell that promised more than was eventually delivered. The dismissal of Ryan O’Dwyer was a huge blow to Daly’s team and came as a disappointment to us tele-viewers in Tipp. especially in Cashel. The two yellows law has been a dubious, soccer based innovation in hurling, the first often brandished where a foul might more reasonably yield a free, and the second just as venial in the hectic circumstances of the caman. Refs. are obviously under pressure to be seen to toe the literal line rather than employ personal judgement. O’Dwyer, of course, had been red carded a few years ago, but his thrustful approach hardly goes beyond the bounds of honest endeavour. Anyhow, the loss was of negative, even crucial, consequence for Dublin. Another aspect was the unusual fallibilty of Paul Ryan as free taker, depriving them of momentum keeping scores. But a fifteen times level thriller before a huge attendance turned Cork’s way on ‘keeper Maguires ill luck and Horgan’s opportunism for a goal of serious and ill timed arrival for Dublin, and a positive omen for Cork as the sliotar was stolen off Gary’s stick as he advanced. Opposite number Nash, by contrast, was flawless off the three long frees he converted. All in all, Cork go on optimistically as the Munster defeat becomes academic. Their play has gained in flow and confidence, even if the end game on Sunday ran fortunately for them. Dublin, in defeat and deflation, won high credit and have become a considerable factor in the code.
We’ll watch Limerick v Clare with equal interest. A hard one to assess, this. Clare have raised their quality a lot since going under to Cork, their feisty manager keeping them at a speedy pace of delivery and combination. The Under 21 victory will have maintained their drive for the senior campaign. Yet somehow one wonders if Limerick’s tenacity in defence will put a stop to Clare’s creative laying off up front. As a general impression, John Allen’s side may be able to repeat the battling qualities that coped so well with Cork. That form, with Cork’s subsequent achievements against Kilkenny and Dublin, seems to me a style of play that entitles them to slight favouritism.
So much for impertinent intrusion into matters of uninvolved nature as far as we are concerned, and back to local affairs. Four Divisions have happy victors and regretful losers. Easy to identify the happiest - Eire Og’s West triumph definitely rates top. Clonoulty had ruled with an iron for years and there seemed little reason to anticipate a shock, they were like Kilkenny as the dominant force. Yet Anacarty, after a slow start, came back with a string of goals and parity in points for a margin of nine and a seismic quake that went round the county as an item of high interest. The losers, like fellow sufferers Loughmore in Mid. have the opportunity to put these displays behind them in county context, both will loom large in the eyes of whatever qualifiers they are drawn against.
Boherlahan had everything right and ready as hosts to the Mid final, pitch trim and inviting for the players; large attendance with parking well stewarded; evening ideal, with a fairly lively breeze. My neighbours in the stand included a group from North Tipp. eager to witness something closer than their own lop sided decider between Kildangan and the ‘Mines. What they, and the rest of us, saw was just as one way business with winners known by or before half time. A year ago Pa Bourke’s three early frees and as many goals - doubled later by the Tipp. panellist were the heavy and numerous blows against which recovery was just not “on”. Just as deep a hole was dug for Loughmore in a five minute burst by Drom-Inch. One, by David Butler, was useful. Two, with Seamus Callanan the finisher, was ominous. Three, with David Collins prodding home after a Callanan blast seemed to be safely dealt with, was just about terminal for the game as a contest well before the break came at fifteen between them. A tally of 0-4 for Loughmore indicated frequent inaccuracy for points, even by Noel McGrath, and no threat to Damien Young’s net with no tension or uncertainty remaining, the second period held only token significance, the odd point from the losers no worry to a side led by a classy Callanan performance from all angles. A few of his catch, turn and point efforts were text book in technique. Drom-Inch’s clean sheet didn’t last the hour on account of a McGrath free that got through but it raised only a faint cheer from followers who can only look ahead to a different day. The early, even immediate loss of Woodlock was the only negative from the winners point of view, James with a facial knock at the throw in. Callanan came out and exploited the ample room created by smart attacking combination against a harassed rearguard in which Tom King was the leading factor in the resistance and trying to get something going up front. Eamon Buckley and company dealt capably with most of those advances. The Mid trophy lies where it deserves to be and will be a motivator towards ultimate success as in 2011, and atonement for the near miss in last year’s final.
Holycross Ballycahill GAA
Minor Hurling: We play JK Brackens in the mid minor hurling championship tonight Wednesday at 7:00pm. Note earlier time.
Junior B hurling: Our junior B hurlers play Gortnahoe Glengoole in the final group game of the mid championship in Holycross on this Sunday night at 7:00pm.
County Board Draw: Our recent run of good luck in the draw continued this week with a win for David Gilmore, Thurles to whom we send our congratulations.
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