Padraig Nestor (Fr Dalton's) gets to the sliothar ahead of Brownstown's Oisín Kiernan. Photo: John McCauley

McCabe on song as Dalton’s edge out Archerstown men

Slevins Coaches Senior ‘B’ Hurling Championship semi-final: Fr Dalton’s 1-13, Brownstown 0-13

Gerry Buckley reports

Fr Dalton’s recovered from a slow start to deservedly edge out Brownstown in last Sunday’s Westmeath senior ‘B’ hurling semi-final in ideal conditions at TEG Cusack Park, the Ballymore-based outfit thereby qualifying for the decider next month against round robin table-toppers Delvin.

Both sides missed early scoring opportunities before Jamie Fitzsimons converted a routine free in the sixth minute. Owen McCabe quickly equalised with a classy point from the stand sideline, but the men in blue and white edged ahead with a quickfire brace from the stick of Fitzsimons (a tricky free and from play after a great run by Conor Shaw).

McCabe and Conor Rice traded points (from low and high shots respectively), as did Robbie Dugdale and Kieran Martin (availing of a delightful flicked pass by Conor McNeill), to leave Brownstown ahead by 0-5 to 0-3 at the end of the opening quarter.

Ned O’Connor’s charges were in full flow at this juncture and they added 1-5 without reply to their tally between the 18th and 25th minutes. McCabe scored the goal in the 22nd minute with a low shot past James Moore when teed up by Colm O’Roarke.

The white flags were raised by McCabe (two - a free and a great score from near the terrace sideline), Ronan McLoughlin, Martin (after a great piece of fielding), and O’Roarke. Niall Leonard pounced for his side’s first point in 14 minutes approaching the interval, but they still trailed by 1-8 to 0-6 at the break.

McCabe (a free) and Leonard (open play) added to their tallies within three minutes of the resumption. John Gilligan then showed all his experience with a great catch at the end of a Fitzsimons ‘65’. A long-range free from McCabe put the men in green and gold six clear (1-10 to 0-7) in the 39th minute.

However, Declan Mullen’s troops came right back into contention by rifling over four unanswered points in quick succession courtesy of Leonard (completing his hat-trick from play) and three successful frees by Fitzsimons. Both goalies did well to hold tricky deliveries towards the end of the third quarter.

Brownstown now had a lot of possession but nothing tangible on the scoreboard to show for it, and it was Fr Dalton’s who ended the scoring drought with a long-range free from McCabe in the 57th minute (their first score in 18 minutes).

An opportunist point from Paddy Reilly at the other end preceded the red-carding on the hour mark of Ross Daly and Conor McNeill.

A routine free conversion by Fitzsimons left Brownstown just a point in arrears, but their opponents pounced for a crucial brace via Martin (after another great catch by Gilligan) and McCabe (a difficult free).

A lobbed free from Shaw with time almost up was cleared by the winners’ defence, and they can now look forward to a clash with competition favourites Delvin for the right to win the Mickey Power Cup.

Scorers – Fr Dalton’s: O McCabe 1-8 (0-5f), K Martin 0-3, C O’Roarke and R McLoughlin 0-1 each. Brownstown: J Fitzsimons 0-7 (6f), N Leonard 0-3, P Reilly, R Dugdale and C Rice 0-1 each.

Fr Dalton’s: Eoin Moran; Donal Glynn, Ciaran Finerty, Kenneth Kincaid; Padraig Nestor, John Gilligan, Jack Kearney; Sean Keena, Eoin Ryan; Sam Maxwell, Kieran Martin, Owen McCabe; Colm O’Roarke, Conor McNeill, Ronan McLoughlin. Subs used: Brian Finerty for McLoughlin (51), Dylan Murtagh for Glynn (inj., 60 + 3).

Brownstown: James Moore; Tom Flynn, Ross Daly, Kenny Higgins; Conor Shaw, Paddy Reilly, Shaun Smith; Oisín Kiernan, Anthony Mulvaney; Robbie Dugdale, Conor Rice, Emmet Cunneen; Niall Leonard, Jamie Fitzsimons, Danny Henry. Subs used: Jamie Reilly for Henry (inj., 38), Jack Gavin for Kiernan (49), Matthew Smith for Cunneen (58).

Ref: Barry Kelly (St Oliver Plunkett’s).