Senior hurling: At the end of this game you were thinking that Bray Emmets were looking damn near invincible but when you reflect on the matter, you’ll see that Eire Og were still well and truly in this game with five minutes to go and but for a strong flurry at the end that this was a right battle between the neighbours in Aughrim last Sunday.
The return of Pádraig Doyle to the Bray team for this game was a massive factor when this game is dissected. Seven points (two frees) and his foraging and hard work brought a real dynamism and physical presence to the middle third on a day when the usually lethal Christy Moorehouse had one of those days where nothing seems to go right.
The battle of John Henderson and Andrew Walsh was a cracker with the wily Henderson using all his natural hurling ability and game experience to keep the lofty and lethal Walsh under wraps for the most part.
Bray were disciplined at the back as well. With the accuracy of Shaun Cranley always a concern, only four of the Eire Og points came from frees which suggests a commendable shift by the Bray defence.
Of all the games over the weekend watched by this reporter, the striking and first touch seemed to be sharper and cleaner in this game, with some fine touches and moments of skill throughout from both sides in what was a thoroughly entertaining encounter from start to finish.
The result leaves Eire Og needing a significant victory over Glenealy in their last game given that Bray Emmets will be strong favourites to see off a very impressive Avondale side. If Bray oblige then that will leave Glenealy and Paul Carley’s men on four points and should Eire Og get the better of the Reds then that would also leave them on four with score difference then applying.
It was a lightning start for the Bray side with points from Christy Moorehouse (two frees), a bomb from Pádraig Doyle and a sublime Luke Maloney effort from deep in his own half after quality work from Sean Maloney, Daire Henderson and Pádraig Doyle opening up a 0-4 to 0-0 lead after six minutes.
Eire Og steadied the ship with Anto Byrne getting free from Karl Lacey to fire over a screamer after a Nathan Unwin sideline had made it all the way across the field from the stand side.
Two Bray wides followed, the first from a Christy Moorehouse free, the second from a Pádraig Doyle free, before Shaun Cranley dropped over a free after the sweeping Daire Lohan had been found guilty of overcarrying by referee John Keenan to leave Bray 0-3 to 0-2 ahead at the first water break.
Eire Og’s Peter Keane was doing a fine job marshalling the threat of Christy Moorehouse but Bray had danger all over the field for the Greystones men to contend with, Diarmuid Masterson being one of the threats and the talented attacker fired over after 19 to make it 0-4 to 0-2.
There were worrying signs at 0-6 to 0-2 with 23 minutes gone for Eamonn Scallan’s men who were looking to inflict major damage on Bray through Andrew Walsh to no avail it must be said; Pádraig Doyle from play and Moorehouse from a free won by relentless Daire Lohan pressure high up in Eire Og territory increasing that Bray lead.
A thumping challenge by Bray goalkeeper Jim Doyle on James Cranley gave Shaun Cranley an easy job of tapping over but Moorehouse struck back immediately after Eoghan Potts fouled Diarmuid Masterson at the other end of the field.
Savage pressure on Sean Maloney by Anto Byrne saw Hugh O’Neill profit and split the posts with a sweet strike but a Pádraig Doyle monster free from his own 65 made it double scores at 0-8 to 0-4 only for Andrew Walsh to finally shake free of the shackles of John Henderson to collect a loose ball and fire over just before the break.
Bray started the second half with Diarmuid Masterson and Michael Boland inside and the latter fired over a beauty within the first minute of the second half after nice hands from Marc Lennon.
Eire Og had a positive period over the next five minutes with points from Shaun Cranley (free) after Andrew Walsh had been fouled as he bore down on the Bray goal and a stunner from Anto Byrne after a majestic touch from Michael Walsh out the field, 0-9 to 0-7 after six of the second half.
But Bray rallied. Their defence started to snuff out threatening attacks with strong play from Sean Laloney, Daire Lohan and Daire Henderson and their spirits were lifted when Pádraig Doyle and Davy Maloney fired over two screamers of scores while Doyle added a free to put five between the sides at the second water break.
That lead increased to six when substitute Ronan McMahon showed lovely skill to feed Davy Maloney who produced sweet stick work to create some space to wallop over.
Shaun Cranley bagged a contested 65 with 11 to go and Anto Byrne drove over a peach after plucking an Eoghan Potts sideline out of the sky and things were looking up for Eire Og.
But Bray produced a final 10 minutes that simply blew the Greystones challenge out of the water. Paul Carley’s men powered home to the finish line with points from the very impressive Davy Maloney, Cian Lohan, Shane Lohan with his first touch after entering the fray, Michael Boland and two from Pádraig Doyle (one free) with a Shaun Cranley free the only addition to the Eire Og tally.
It was a blistering finish by the Bray men who have a very healthy bench and who put 19 points up on a very capable Eire Og side despite their attack not functioning to the fullest of its health.†The Eire Og and Glenealy clash will be one to cherish.
If Andrew Walsh can find the net at least once early on who knows what could happen! He got no joy out of John Henderson whatsoever, and Eire Og needed at least one major to put doubts in the Bray minds.