Deelsiders’ victory blows the championship wide open
Raharney 2-15, Castletown Geoghegan 0-19
After an opening day defeat, Raharney got their season back on track and joined last year’s champions Castletown on four points with this deserved two-point victory, at TEG Cusack Park on Saturday evening last.
In a free riddled game where 25 of the scores came from placed balls, it was Raharney’s ability to find the net that ultimately proved the difference between the sides in this otherwise evenly matched contest. In truth Castletown were too reliant on county star Niall O’Brien with only four of their scores coming from other sources. The Blues fared little better in this regard, but their forwards in particular contributed far more from general play over the hour or so of hurling. That will certainly be a worry for Castletown Geoghegan manager Alan Mangan, but for Raharney the return of Killian Doyle and David Hickey definitely has them playing at a different pitch to their earlier games and this win certainly propels them into serious Examiner Cup challengers.
Indeed, the narrow victory opens up the Senior ‘A’ Hurling Championship considerably as we head to the business end of things.
The opening quarter was tame in the extreme with both sides struggling for any sort of supremacy or continuity and the lead exchanged hands numerous times, with Castletown’s scores coming from four Niall O’Brien frees and a fabulous score from Morgan Gavigan (after a superb pass from the impressive David O’Reilly). Raharney’s replies all came from Killian Doyle with two frees, a 65’ and a marvellous point from play. O’Reilly doubled the Black and Ambers lead with the point of the half, but Raharney’s response was emphatic as Doyle pointed another dead ball and then Eoin Keyes netted, after a defensive aberration from the Castletown Geoghegan puck-out was punished decisively.
Shane Clavin from play and another O’Brien free levelled matters again, before the latter and Killian Doyle exchanged frees. Eamonn Cunneen re-established the Raharney lead with a fine score, but on the cusp of half-time O’Brien levelled once more and at the short whistle it was all square: Raharney 1-7, Castletown Geoghegan 0-10.
After the break, the intensity certainly increased from both sides and when Doyle pointed another free for Raharney, Niall O’Brien hit three for Castletown Geoghegan, added to by a marvellous score from Plunkett Maxwell. That left Castletown were back on top. Cue Raharney and Doyle with two frees and a lovely score from Eamonn Cunneen to equalise as we headed into the final quarter with still all to play for, and the game ebbing and flowing from end to end.
O’Brien pointed another free; Doyle equalised, then put Raharney ahead again from the dead ball; O’Brien brought parity again after another piece of amazing skill by David O’Reilly, and a draw looked odds on. However, on 52 minutes, Raharney went direct down the field and Brian McGrath netted a brilliant goal, one that his overall display deserved. We thought that this was the killer blow, but two quick fire O’Brien frees had it back to the minimum in a flash. However, crucially, they missed chances to get back level and Doyle added to his tally from another placed ball as we headed for the final whistle.
O’Reilly won another free for O’Brien to convert but again they failed to regain equilibrium and, after missing the chances, they became exposed at the back. Doyle won and converted his 12th score to seal a memorable Raharney victory that harked back to the halcyon days of the Deelsiders when they were simply never beaten, and after 63 minutes Mick Murtagh eventually blew for full-time, after a closely contested game that could have went either way at times. However, it was finally sealed by the sheer determination of the boys in blue.
Scorers - Raharney: Killian Doyle 0-12 (9 frees; 2 ‘65’s), Eoin Keys and Brian McGrath 1-0 each, Eamonn Cunneen 0-2, Eoghan Ahearn 0-1.
Castletown Geoghegan: Niall O’Brien 0-15 (14 frees), Morgan Gavigan, Shane Clavin, Plunkett Maxwell and David O’Reilly 0-1 each.
Raharney: Aaron McHugh, Brian McHugh, Conor McKeogh, Darren Finn, Cormac Boyle, Robbie Greville, David Hickey, Rory Keyes, Eamonn Cunneen, Eoin Keyes, Ciaran Doyle, Joey Boyle, Brian McGrath, Killian Doyle and Eoghan Ahearn. Subs: Jamie Mulkearns for McKeogh (37 mins), Neil Carty for Brian McHugh (47 mins), Devin Hill for Ciaran Doyle (54 mins), Michael Doherty for Rory Keyes (56 mins).
Castletown Geoghegan: Ciaran Glennon, Dean McDermott, Johnnie Bermingham, Naoise McKenna, Aonghus Clarke, David Lynch, Morgan Gavigan, Aaron Glennon, Peter Clarke, Shane Clavin, Plunkett Maxwell, Cormac Jackson, David O’Reilly, Niall O’Brien and Jack Gallagher. Subs: Conor Murphy for Gallagher and Joe Clarke for Aaron Glennon (37 mins), Neal Kirby for Jackson (43 mins), Ciaran O’Brien for McKenna (49 mins).
Referee: Mick Murtagh (Clonkill).
In a nutshell
Man of the match
David O’Reilly (Castletown Geoghegan): O’Brien and Killian Doyle shot the lights out with 27 points between them and both were excellent from general play, with possibly O’Brien just shading that contest generally. Cunneen, Greville and Brian McGrath were others to impress for the victors, while Bermingham, Aonghus Clarke, Lynch and Peter Clarke were best for Castletown Geoghegan. But David O’Reilly gets the nod, even though he was on the losing side, for his array of skills that had us gasping at times. When he finds his scoring touch then other teams can seriously watch out.