SENIOR HURLERS MISS OUT: IT was a winning start to the Dacia Cars Senior Hurling Championship for St. Patricks as they bested Eire Og in Bray on Monday evening.
As always, Andy OBrien was a key figure for Pats and the sharp-shooter bagged the contests only goal and it arrived at a crucial time.
It was a two-point game when OBrien blasted to the net 12 minutes into the second period and Pats were never going to let the lead slip after that against a Greystones side that played the closing 10 minutes with 14 men following Andrew Walshs dismissal.
The contest is probably best described as tepid, neither side showed their full hands but Pats will be delighted to have earned a winning start without having to be at their best.
Eire Og didnt register their first score until the 15th minute when Anto Byrne won a free that James Pooch Cranley converted.
Pats had two points on the board by that stage – an Andy OBrien free and an effort from play for Chris Kavanagh – both inside the opening three minutes.
A tactic Eire Og frequented in the early stages was the long, high ball in on top of Andrew Walsh but Pats dealt with it well in the most part. Full-back Gerry Connors did pick up a caution from John Keenan though after a bit of afters following one such excursion.
Patrick Murphy had a sniff of goal when Andy OBriens free was beaten away to the half-forward but Dan ONeill denied him.
Some neat play from Andrew Walsh almost saw him lay on a goal for a team-mate but he couldnt quite grasp the sliotar and the goal chance – and Walshs hopes for an assist – were gone.
Eire Og levelled through Cranley on 19 minutes and but that would be the last time the sides were all square and Pats had pulled three points clear by the interval.
Pats remained on the pitch at the break whilst Eire Og retreated to the changing rooms where they remained camped for as long as John Keenans patience would allow them but the mind games did not work.
Keenan was kept busy in the early stages of the first period. He booked Ricky Quinn after 30 seconds and then Andrew Walsh collected his first yellow for an off-the-ball incident with George OBrien Jr.
Four minutes later, OBrien Jr. also made an appearance in Keenans notebook after pulling his hurl across Walshs chest. Revenge is a dish best served with a hurl it would seem.
Anto Byrne reduced the gap to two points and Eire Og had a chance to cut it to the minimum when Byrne found Andrew Walsh who might have pointed instead tried to set up a goal chance for Michael Walsh.
Unfortunately for the latter Walsh, the ball was beyond him and the chance evaporated.
An Anto Byrne free on 41 minutes was initally waved wide by the would-be umpires but when Keenan awarded the score, it seemed to gee up the Eire Og crowd.
Their new-found giddinness lasted approximately 60 seconds until Andy OBrien was found deep into Eire Og territory and whilst moving to the left, he drilled the ball across the face of ONeills goal for the matchs key moment.
The sides traded points for the remainder of the clash – the highlights of those white flags coming from beauties from George OBrien Jr. and James Bonner OBrien – but Pats task grew a tad easier when Andrew Walsh was sent to the line having picked up a second yellow after catching Dale Quinn with his hurl as the Pats full-back caught well.
Scorers – St. Patricks: Andy OBrien 1-6 (5Fs), James OBrien 0-2 (1F), James Bonner OBrien 0-1, Chris Kavanagh 0-1, Eddie Kelly 0-1, Ricky Quinn 0-1.
Eire Og scorers: James Cranley 0-4 (2 Fs, 1 65), Anthony Byrne 0-3 (3Fs), Kristin Flynn 0-1, Michael Walsh 0-1, Eoin Dorgan 0-1.
John Dee OBrien; Dale Quinn, Gerry Connors, George OBrien Jr.; Eddie Kelly, Andy OBrien, Shane Doyle; Christy Moorehouse, James Byrne; Chris Kavanagh, Ricky Quinn, Patrick Murphy; George OBrien, James OBrien, James Bonner OBrien.
Dan ONeill; Kristin Flynn, Billy Cuddihy, Daniel OConnor; Shaun Hughes, Peter Keane, Eoghan Potts; Brian Lawless, Sean Lawless; Michael Walsh, Anthony Byrne, Leon Browne; Danny Nolan, Andrew Walsh, James Cranley.