South champions Killenaule slumped to a disappointing ten-points defeat against table-toppers Toomevara in group two of the Tipperary Water County Senior Hurling Championship at Templemore on Saturday evening. As a result of their divisional success the Robins are already assured of a place in the knock-out stages of the championship. But they will have to improve on this display if they are to ruffle any feathers when the business end of the championship arrives.
Tipperary Water County Senior Hurling Championship
Toomevara 4-15 Killenaule 1-14
The damage was done in the first half when Toomevara scored three goals in the space of eleven minutes. The first came in the 8th minute courtesy of Jack Delaney's neat finish. Killenaule could have found the net only a minute earlier when county under-21 star Paudie Feehan's solo run set up Tom Stakelum, but he was denied by a great reaction save from Toomevara goalie Darren Cuddihy, albeit at the expense of a point.
Jack Delaney pounced for his and Toomevara's second goal when Mark McCarthy's free fell in the danger zone and when Killenaule goalie Matthew O'Donnell dropped Paul Ryan's long delivery, Mark McCarthy mopped up the rebound for their third in the 19th minute.
Those goals put the Greyhounds firmly in control (3-5 to 0-3) and from the early stages they were stronger in the tackle, with more method to their play and overall they were the sharper side.
The Killenaule defence was at sixes and sevens in those early exchanges - all over the pitch they looked sluggish.
Kieran Bergin - who shipped a couple of heavy knocks in the second half- was moved from full-forward to midfield to give Killenaule some stability. And, with John O'Dwyer, Michael Doyle, Eoin Barry and Eoin O'Connell also making their presence felt they started to use the ball better and succeeded to some extent in steadying the ship, although they were still behind by 3-8 to 0-8 at the break.
Points from Kieran Bergin, two John O'Dwyer frees and two Michael Doyle points had revived their fortunes. However, they still had a mountain to climb against a free-flowing Toomevara side for whom captain Joey McLoughney had the standout score of the opening half when he made a great catch before dispatching a shot between the posts from the centre of the pitch in the 26th minute.
Killenaule started the second half brightly with points from play from John O'Dwyer and Michael Doyle. But they shot themselves in the foot when they conceded a fourth goal shortly afterwards. Goalie Matthew O'Donnell made a fine save from Conor O'Meara, but he was powerless to prevent sharpshooter Mark McCarthy from burying the rebound.
That goal opened up a double-score advantage (4-8 to 0-10) for Toome, but Killenaule showed plenty of spirit to halve the deficit. Half-time substitute Pat Kerwick rifled a shot to the net when Joe O'Dwyer's clearance broke and they followed up with points from Eoin Barry and a Pat Kerwick free to leave them just five points in arrears by the 40th minute.
With Stephen Browne and Paudie Feehan coming into the picture, Killenaule were playing with renewed energy. However, Toomevara quickly rediscovered their mojo and reeled off the next five points to restore their handsome lead.
Those scores included a great sideline point from Mark McCarthy, a converted free by the same player, two points from Joey McLoughney (including a free) and a point from Colm Canning.
Killenaule's evening got worse when captain Thomas Keavey was dismissed eight minutes from the end of normal time when he received a second yellow card for a foul on Paul Ryan.
Toomevara have served notice that they could be a force to be reckoned with in the latter stages of the championship by winning all three games in their group. They have lethal forwards in Mark McCarthy and Jack Delaney while the veteran Benny Dunne offers them valuable experience.
They were never led in this game in which Jason Ryan was rock solid at centre-back while Conor O'Meara, Joey McLoughney, Darren Delaney and Josh McCarthy also shone.
Toomevara: Darren Cuddihy, Cathal Kennedy, Andrew Ryan, Liam Ryan, Jake Ryan, Jason Ryan (0-1), Darren Delaney (0-1), Josh McCarthy (0-1), Paul Ryan, Conor O'Meara (0-2), Joey McLoughney (0-4, 0-2 frees), Benny Dunne, Kevin McCarthy, Mark McCarthy (2-3, 0-2 frees, 0-1 sideline), Jack Delaney (2-2). Subs: Colm Canning (0-1) for Benny Dunne (47th), Eoin Grace for Josh McCarthy (54th), David Young for Kevin McCarthy (56th), Josh McCarthy for Eoin Grace (64th).
Killenaule: Matthew O'Donnell, Liam Meagher, Paddy Codd, Stephen Browne, Eoin O'Connell, Joe O'Dwyer, Jimmy Feehan, Thomas Keaveney, Michael Doyle (0-2), Kieran Bergin (0-2), John O'Dwyer (0-4, 0-3 frees), Dean O'Connor (0-1), Tom Stakelum (0-1), Eoin Barry (0-2, 0-1 free) and Paudie Feehan. Subs: Pat Kerwick (1-1, 0-1 frees) for Tom Stakelum (HT), Tony Doyle (0-1) for Dean O'Connor (40th), Killian O'Dwyer for Michael Doyle (50th).
Referee: Philip Kelly (Ballinahinch).