Senior hurlers: St Pats secured the last remaining
semi-final berth in this year’s Lightning Protection Ireland Wicklow Senior
Hurling Championship after this controversial victory over Eire Og Greystones
in Aughrim on Sunday evening last.
A devastating last quarter from the Dunbur Park men sent
Eamonn Scallan’s men packing from the competition but the Greystones side will
feel massively aggrieved at having their full-back Billy Cuddihy sent off on a
red card after a bout of jostling down on the sideline on the stand side
directly after Anto Byrne had fire home past Eoghan O’Mahony in the Pat’s goal
to open up a 1-10 to 0-7 lead for the Eire Og outfit.
Without a shadow of a doubt this was the massive turning
point in this game. Eire Og were very much on the front foot. They were dealing
with the St Pat’s threat all game having brought Michael Walsh back to populate
the halfback line with brother Andrew where the height and hurling ability were
causing the Wicklow Town men major problems. Six points to the good and it was
looking very promising from an Eire Og perspective.
Eoghan O’Mahony’s puck-out following the goal was driven
down the stand side heading towards the village end of Aughrim where Gerry
Connors and Christy Moorehouse were competing with Andrew Walsh.
The ball broke and as the three men tussled, they were
joined by John ‘Dee’ O’Brien. In a flash Moorehouse and O’Brien were on the
deck from what appears to be blows on the leg as Walsh competes for the ball.
Gerry Connors and Walsh then have a coming together and Walsh hits the deck
clutching his ribcage.
Appeals are made to referee Liam Keenan Jnr who is over trying
to sort things out when Billy Cuddihy arrives on the scene and administers what
looks to be a shoulder on Gerry Connors. The two men shoulder each other a few
times before Cuddihy is pushed away by his colleagues and Liam Keenan Jnr
starts the process of getting things sorted.
The Aughrim official flashes a yellow card to Walsh and
Connors and is then summoned by his umpire and after a brief chat he calls
Billy Cuddihy over and shows him a red card, a decision that utterly shocks the
Eire Og full-back and his team.
Now the cat was well and truly among the pigeons. The Pat’s
response to this was positive, obviously. Andy O’Brien with a bomb from the
sideline and substitute George O’Connor firing over cut the Eire Og lead to
four as they reshuffled their side and send Andrew Walsh back to fill the hole
left by Cuddihy.
Good work by Daniel Salmon and Anto Byrne allowed Peter
Keane the chance to score and stop the rot but an Andy O’Brien free returned
the gap to four at the end of the third quarter.
Pat’s had now deployed George ‘Bee’ O’Brien to the
full-forward position from midfield in the hope of grabbing a vital major that
would completely turn this game on its head and that duly transpired when the
Pat’s attacker pounced on a breaking ball that had been dropped in high to
finish over Dan O’Neill’s line after the Eire Og netminder had left his line to
try and deal with the threat.
That goal dragged Pat’s back to within a point of the
Greystones men, but you could feel the energy draining from Eire Og, the tide
was well and truly turned in this game and it was really hard to see anything
other than a Pat’s win.
A monster score from Michael Connors from the half-back line
drew the sides level with seven to go and then ‘Bee’ O’Brien and Christy
Moorehouse fired over crackers to push Pat’s two ahead.
An Anto Byrne free kept Eire Og in touch but you knew they
would need a goal at some stage if they were to have any chance of winning and
with most of their energies now directed towards defending the opportunities were
going to be slim in that regard.
An Andy O’Brien free and two superb ‘Bee’ O’Brien points put
an end to this contest. A Late James Cranley free left just a score between the
sides and Eire Og came hunting for that match saving goal at the death but it wouldn’t
come, and the final whistle sounded to the delight of the Pat’s men and the
huge disappointment of the Eire Og side who will no doubt ask why their
full-back was dismissed at such a key juncture of this game.
Things looked impressively different at the break for
Scallan’s men. They led by 0-10 to 0-5 after a superb first half where they
outhurled the Pat’s men all over the field. Gerry Connors opened the scoring in
the opening moments, but the Dunbur Park men wouldn’t score again for 15
minutes in which time Eire Og would be leading by 0-7 to 0-1 after points from
the very impressive Daniel Salmon at full-forward, Shaun Cranley (two frees),
Leon Browne (2), Hugh O’Neill, and Anto Byrne before Andy O’Brien pointed a
The Pat’s supply to Andy was being snuffed out by the
combination of the hungry defence and the deployment of Michael Walsh back in
the half-back line as an extra defender. That looked to create difficulties for
Scallan’s men at the other end in terms of scoring, but nothing could have been
further from the truth as Daniel Salmon and company were in fine form in that
It looked like it might be one of those days for Pat’s as
the normally ruthlessly accurate Andy O’Brien was missing a free here and there
and things just didn’t seem to be falling right for them but he split the posts
with a free after 22 minutes to make it 0-7 to 0-3 not long after himself and
Gerry Connors had been switched.
The second quarter was a poor one from Eire Og in the
context of missed chances, but they finished superbly with points from James
Cranley, Shaun Cranley (free) and Anto Byrne while Christy Moorehouse took a
short free from Andy O’Brien before pointing before the sharpshooter himself
pointed a free at the death.
The end of the first half was not without incident either.
Before Andy O’Brien’s last point of the half both he and Eire Og’s Hugh O’Neill
received yellow cards for an incident that occurred when both men tangled in
the Pat’s half of the field. The incident was brought to Liam Keenan Jnr’s
attention by his umpire.
St Patrick’s started the second half very positively with
two Andy O’Brien scores from frees to leave just three between the sides and
then a long ball was won by Anto Byrne who finished sublimely past Eoghan
O’Mahony for the game’s opening goal.
From the puck-out, the game would be changed profoundly with
the dismissal of Billy Cuddihy in what looks to have been a very harsh and
incorrect decision for what the Eire Og full-back appeared to have done from
the view of the press box.
Pat’s march on. They’ve used up their ‘Get out of Jail’
card, that’s for certain. They face Bray Emmets in the semi-final and that’s an
altogether more difficult task for the Dunbur Park men to tackle.