Senior Hurling: Carnew Emmets booked their place in the 2020 Lightning Protection Ireland Senior Hurling Championship final after a 0-14 to 0-9 victory over Eire Og Greystones in Aughrim last Sunday but they will be only too well aware that a performance such as this is unlikely to get them over the line against a clinical Bray Emmets.
To be fair to James Hickey’s men, semi-finals are entities that just have to be navigated. The manner, style and scoring exploits matter very little when the final whistle sounds. All that matters is whether a team has reached that big day or has made a swift exit from the championship.
Nevertheless, major improvements will be required if the men of Carnew are to end this championship drought, although the potential is certainly there if the performance they are capable of is unleashed.
Eire Og were never going to make it easy for James Hickey’s side. Indeed, had Eamonn Scallan’s men not been so wasteful with their shooting, especially in the first half with the wind when they registered eight wides (11 overall), this game could have had a very different complexion in the second period when Carnew enjoyed their best spell, with the wind at their backs and Enda Donohoe performing very well from difficult frees.
If quality scoring was what you wanted from the opening half of this game then you had come to the wrong place when referee Ciaran Manley threw the ball in for the start of this encounter. A remarkably low-scoring first half saw the sides retire at 0-4 apiece with Eire Og, tellingly, never leading in that opening 30, and with Andrew Walsh or Anto Byrne never receiving the supply they so badly needed to cause Bob Fitzgerald serious headaches in the Carnew goal.
Carnew Emmets showed one change to their named starting 15 with Darragh Foley coming in instead of James Gregan. Martin O’Brien wore number 8 but was deployed at corner-back as James Hickey looked to deal with a very threatening full-forward line. O’Brien picked up Hugh O’Neill with Conall McCrea welcoming Anto Byrne to the edge of the square while Pádraig Doran would have his hands full with Andrew Walsh for a time.
Neil Browne replaced Brian Lawless in the Eire Og starting 15 while Stephen ‘Chester’ Kelly was named at 25 with the hope around the ground that the dual star would see some game time. We hadn’t long to wait.
A wide apiece were recorded before Enda Donohoe swept over a free won by the tireless Jack Doyle around the middle of the field and brought forward for dissent.
Kristin Flynn drove wide moments later from deep rather than dropping the ball down on Anto Byrne but perhaps that was his intention but he misjudged the relatively strong breeze heading down the field towards the village end.
Carnew were operating with a two-man full-forward line of John Doyle Jnr and Owen Young with Paudi McGing operating out in the half-forward line.
James Hickey’s men registered the next two wides, one from a goal chance from Owen Young after good work from John Doyle Jnr before Peter Keane showed good prowling skills when he swooped in to rob possession after a loose Carnew pass and drove over a beauty to make it a point apiece after 11.
John Doyle Jnr showed the class act he is when he split the posts from the sideline after losing his marker, Neil Browne.
Hugh O’Neill was the next Eire Og man to drive an effort from distance wide before Shaun Cranley slotted a screamer of a free from the sideline to make it 0-2 apiece after 16. The endeavor was there from both sides, but the finishing and final passes were not.
A storming run from Jack Doyle earned his side a free and Enda Donohoe fired over to return Carnew to the lead but Eire Og could only register two wides over the next 10 minutes before Cranley bagged a point from a free with 29 gone, 0-3 to 0-3.
A foul on Paudi McGing gave Donohoe another chance and he duly obliged before Anto Byrne grabbed the score of the game from distance to send them in 0-4 apiece at the break.
Eamonn Scallan released Stephen ‘Chester’ Kelly after the break, realising no doubt that he needed all his strengths to withstand Carnew with the wind at their backs.
A Shaun Cranley free after two minutes following a foul on Hugh O’Neill gave Eire Og the lead for the first and only time in this game and it lasted less than a minute before Enda Donohoe struck over a master of a score from play from way out the field to level the game at 0-5 apiece.
James Hickey’s men regained the lead when Andrew Hughes capped a strong performance with a strong finish on the run moments after Stephen ‘Chester’ Kelly had tried to find Andrew Walsh with a high ball only for Bob Fitzgerald and Conall McCrea to deal with the threat and McCrea to launch the counter as Fitzgerald gingerly picked himself up off the floor after a collision with the Eire Og attacker.
Eamonn Scallan had pulled Anto Byrne out the field to try and secure possession, leaving Walsh inside.
A lazy jersey pull on Enda Donohoe allowed the sharpshooter put two between the sides after 11 and a converted 65 pushed that lead out to three as Carnew started to stamp their authority on the matter.
Shaun Cranley from play kept Eire Og motoring but Carnew were starting to dominate in key sectors of the field and they registered two wides and an Enda Donohoe converted free won by John Doyle Snr by the end of the third quarter to leave it 0-9 to 0-6.
The pressure of the Carnew delivery inside was starting to tell on the Eire Og defence, and with Enda Donohoe in fine form from the placed balls it wasn’t long before he had another opportunity after a foul on the lively John Doyle Jnr and he proved successful yet again to leave it 0-10 to 0-6 at the second water break.
James Hickey sent in another of Carnew’s young guns after the water break, with Eoin Kavanagh coming in for Owen Young who had performed well under the pressure of Eire Og’s Billy Cuddihy. Kavanagh would enjoy his time on the field, making a strong claim for a point that was waved wide and chipping in with an excellent score.
Andrew Walsh did very well to gather possession out around the half-forward line but the pressure from Pádraig Doran and Darragh Foley forced him to overcarry and the reaction of the Carnew Emmets players following the decision told you all you needed to know about what this meant. Enda Donohoe powered over the free with the wind at his back.
A helter skelter period of play
ended with Anto Byrne firing a harmless wide but did include Andrew Walsh
getting on the ball only for his hurl to be broken.
Scallan’s men closed the gap to three by the 24th minute thanks to two points from Shaun Cranley (one free) but Carnew weren’t going to be beaten on the day and they added points from Donohoe (free) and that Eoin Kavanagh peach.
‘Chester’ would reply for the Greystones men but it was almost all James Hickey’s men at this stage and a Donohoe free that was surrounded by Carnew wides brought an end to the scoring.
Eire Og brought a serious level of energy and passion to this game. They are without a doubt the most improved team in the county but they failed to or in some ways were not allowed to play to their strengths with Andrew Walsh and Anto Byrne not getting anything like the supply they need to cause major damage.
Defensively they were reasonably sound save for the concession of frees to an eager Enda Donohoe and hopefully they will maintain this upward trajectory and be back to fight the good fight at the top level in 2021.
This was always going to be a tricky hurdle for Carnew. The job is done. They will know the task that awaits them in the final against a team that scored 1-15 in the second half against St Pat’s but they’re there and that’s all that matters at this stage.
Minor Hurling: North Wicklow Gaels (NWG) had a comprehensive win over Carnew Emmets in the semi-final of the Minor A hurling championship played at Pearse’s Park, Arklow on Sunday evening last, September 13.
In doing so, they have set up an interesting and unusual final against their neighbours in the North East of the county, Bray Emmets. The opening half of this encounter was dominated by two strong defences with most of the scoring coming from frees.
Gaels had placed their normal midfield anchor man Joe Prendergast at full-forward but he got little change there from Maurice Sheil who had a strong first half and commanded the area in front of goal.
The long-striking Bill O’Brien was very influential at midfield for NWG right from the off but the marking was tight and six of the seven scores on the board at the first water break stoppage had all come from frees.
Bill O’Brien and Will Cash had the opening Gaels points from frees, O’Brien landed a 65 while Charlie Frawley scored the only point from play.
Carnew centre forward Thomas Collins had scored all three of his sides 0-3 from frees.
The Emmets put on a lot of pressure in the second quarter but NWG pulled back their half forwards and crowded out many of the Carnew attacks. The Gaels had two further points from play by Bill O’Brien and Joe Prendergast to lead by 0-6 to 0-4 after 22 minutes.
A couple of incidents in the minutes leading up to half-time must have led NWG to believe that this would be their day. Luke Frawley made a brilliant save from a Thomas Collins penalty shot. Play went back up field and Will Cash pointed a free.
A minute later Joe Prendergast got possession and soloed towards goal. His shot was saved by the advancing Billy Molloy but the ball broke kindly for Joe, who scored the only goal of the game on the rebound. 1-7 to 0-4 now.
Thomas Collins responded with a pointed free. Another break then went the Gaels way. Unusually for hurling, a dropping ball hopped over the head of the advancing goalie Luke Frawley but was scrambled away for a 65. Thomas Collins pointed to leave the half-time score at 1-7 to 0-6. Gaels moved Prendergast out field for the second half and he added to their score with a point in the opening minute.
Carnew needed to get back in these early stages but NWG pointed three frees in a row from Bill O’Brien and Will Cash (2) to go to 1-11 before Tom Collins had the first Emmets score of the half, from a free. Dylan Byrne followed with a point from play but the Gaels were looking comfortable when they led by 1-11 to 0-8 at the water break. Collins pulled back a point from another free but from here to the end the Gaels got on top and pulled away. Bill O’Brien pointed a 65 and another free, substitute Michael Shannon scored from play and Will Cash finished a great performance from him by adding two points from play and a further score from a free.
Cash was one of the younger players on the field but he certainly knew where the posts were when they came within his range. The only response from Carnew in the final minutes came from a Tom Collins pointed free. This brought his personal tally to 0-9 from frees, with Dylan Byrne’s point their only score from play. Final score 1-17 to 0-10.