TIPPERARY HURLING

Seamus Kennedy outstanding as St Mary's overcome Clonakenny in Seamus O Riain Cup

Jeddy Walsh

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Jeddy Walsh

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jeddy.walsh@nationalist.ie

Seamus Kennedy

Tipperary star Seamus Kennedy who scored seven points for St. Mary's in their 1-17 to 1-12 over Clonakenny in the Seamus Ó Riain Cup in Leahy Park, Cashel, this evening.

SEAMUS Ó RIAIN CUP GROUP 4 ROUND 2

ST MARY’S (Clonmel) 1-17 CLONAKENNY 1-12

Needing nothing less than a victory to keep their championship year alive, St. Mary’s did the necessary business against Clonakenny at Leahy Park, Cashel this evening in the Seamus Ó Riain Cup, winning by five points in the end of an entertaining game.

Inspired by an outstanding performance by county senior star Seamus Kennedy, the Clonmel side recovered from a slow start to claim that vital win. Having lost their opening game against JK Bracken’s in this competition last May, a second defeat this evening would have meant elimination.

But in Seamus Kennedy they had a leader who stood out when they needed him most with a powerful performance at midfield and a contribution of seven points, including five long range efforts from frees, three of those into a strong first half wind. 

Clonakenny though started this game the stronger and looked full value for their 0-7 to 0-3 lead at the end of the first quarter – an advantage that might have been even bigger with a bit of luck and a little more composure from their forwards.

Inside a minute both teams were on the scoreboard with Conor O’Sullivan’s opening point for St Mary’s cancelled by Bobby Bergin from midfield for Clonakenny.

Gearóid Buckley put St Mary's ahead again with a free, before the Clonmel side were blessed not to concede an early goal. A long delivery into the goal area by Jonathan Cody got a touch from Peadar Byrne and somehow the sliotar hit of the inside of the post and ran across the goal line where Matt Barlow was coolness personified in clearing the St Mary’s line. 

Michael John Carroll had Clonakenny level with a free in the seventh minute before three excellent points from Cian O’Dwyer, Michael John Carroll and Peadar Byrne helped Clonakenny to an 0-5 to 0-2 lead – a free from the sideline by Gearóid Buckley being St. Mary’s only reply in this period of dominance by the Mid Tipperary outfit.

That lead was soon out to five points following a superb point from a tight angle by Peadar Byrne and another point from a Michael John Carroll free. While Clonakenny had a strong breeze behind them, the Clonmel side couldn’t allow that lead to grow any further – and they didn’t.

A superb point from Seamus Kennedy in the 16th minute from an acute angle was the catalyst to spur the South Tipp side on and then three frees in-a-row in a four minute period – two long range efforts from Seamus Kennedy and the other by Gearóid Buckley had the sides all square for the third time after 22 minutes.

And twice more before the break they were level. Bobby Bergin picked up on a poor Mary’s clearance to edge his side ahead before Seamus Kennedy once again levelled with a free from well inside his own 65 metre line.

Further frees from Michael John Carroll and Gearóid Buckley sent the sides to the break at parity, 0-9 apiece, but undoubtedly the John Lillis managed St Mary’s were the happier.

Early opening frees from Carroll and Kennedy for their respective sides continued the first half pattern before Gavin Ryan made a great high catch and pointed from half-way to edge the Clonmel boys in front.

A decisive moment in the game came five minutes into the second half when a long delivery broke around the 20 metre line and Jason Lonergan collected and soloed through before shortening his hurley to blast home. Now St. Mary’s led 1-11 to 0-10 and it seemed the tide was turning in their favour.

Peadar Byrne picked up on a poor clearance to stem that tide but an over-the-shoulder point from 45 metres from Gearóid Buckley maintained his side’s four points advantage.

But not for long. In the 38th minute a rampaging Nicky Ryan was fouled inside the St Mary’s area and from the resultant penalty Willie Ryan gave Enda Dunphy no chance. A follow-up free by Michael John Carroll had the sides back all square  for the seventh time (1-12 to 1-12) with 20 minutes still to play. Amazingly though, while it looked like we were in for a tremendous finish, Clonakenny wouldn’t score again for the remainder of the game.

Another rousing point by Seamus Kennedy nudged his side ahead in the 41st minute, and his younger brother Sean, just on the field, doubled that advantage with a hard-earned point for the St Mary's forward unit. That cushion was soon out to three points when Gearóid Buckley pointed after Seamus Kennedy was taken out by Donal Greed as he headed for goal.

Clonakenny’s hopes of getting back into the game though took a turn for the worse in the 51st minute with a straight red card for Matthew O’Sullivan. The substitute had only been on the field four minutes when he awkwardly caught Ross Peters with a hurley to the face and left referee Johnny Ryan with no option but to show a straight red.

Thereafter St Mary’s hurled away with two further points - from a Seamus Kennedy free (his seventh point of the evening) and a well-deserved point from corner-back Paul Nolan who showed great drive to link up three times in a move before splitting the uprights for the last score of the game.

After a nervous start there were some good performances throughout the field for the winners this evening. In defence Liam Ryan, Gavin Ryan and Jamie Peters did a lot of work. Richie Gunne grew into the game at midfield partnering Seamus Kennedy, while Gearóid Buckley was a good target man and contributed well to the scoreboard.

For Clonakenny the likes of Pa Ryan, Tom Carroll and Willie Ryan cleared a lot of ball and also kept St Mary's to very few scores from open play. John Joe Ryan, Michael John Carroll and Peadar Byrne were the best of the rest on a night that manager Paul Murphy was left disappointed after a promising opening quarter.

St Mary’s will now play Cashel King Cormacs next weekend – a game they will also need to win to ensure a place in the quarter-finals of the competition. Clonakenny, first round winners against Cashel King Cormacs, will now face their Mid neighbours JK Bracken’s needing a victory to book their place in the last eight. 

Tomorrow evening (Sunday) Cashel and JK Brackens face off in round 2, a game Cashel must win to stay in the competition.

TEAMS AND SCORERS

ST MARY'S:

Enda Dunphy, Matt Barlow, Liam Ryan, Paul Nolan (0-1), Gavin Ryan (0-1), Jamie Peters, Sammy Ryan, Richie Gunne, Seamus Kennedy (0-7, 0-5F), Josh Ryan, Ross Peters (Capt), Michael Murphy, Conor O'Sullivan (0-1), Gearóid Buckley (0-6, 0-5F), Jason Lonergan (1-0).

Subs: Sean Kennedy (0-1) for O'Sullivan (41 minutes); Stephen Buckley for Murphy (43); Conor Deely for Josh Ryan (55); Gavin Power for Barlow (58).

CLONAKENNY:

Walter Byrne, Donie Greed (Capt), Pa Ryan, Tom Carroll, Jonathan Cody, Willie Ryan (1-0 pen), Delacy Byrne, Paul Bergin, John Joe Ryan, Michael John Carroll (0-6, 0-5F), Peadar Byrne (0-3), John Costigan, Cian O'Dwyer (0-1), Nicky Ryan, Bobby Bergin (0-2).

Subs: Eoin Nesbitt for Paul Bergin (38 minutes); Matthew O'Sullivan for Cody (47).

Referee: Johnny Ryan (Boherlahan/Dualla).