Senior hurling: Two goals from Eire Og Greystones corner-forward James ‘Pooch’ Cranley in the second half put this highly entertaining battle with Avondale in the Senior hurling championship to bed in Aughrim on Sunday afternoon.
With only two teams progressing from each group it’s difficult to see anyone other than Bray Emmets and Glenealy emerging from this quartet but if there is going to be a seismic shock then it will be Eamonn Scallan’s team who will cause it.
Avondale under Michael Neary showed ambition and competitiveness
and were very well represented by a number of players but Eire Og were
deserving winners in the end with a superior touch and aerial prowess giving
them a distinct advantage over their Rathdrum opponents who have the makings of
a formidable side if they could give full commitment to the small ball, but,
obviously, it’s not easy for a dual club and certainly not one with serious
ambitions at lifting the Miley Cup this season.
Eire Og were without Billy Cuddihy for this game as he
served out a suspension arising from last year’s championship and are still
unable to call on the services of the talented ‘Stephen ‘Chester’ Kelly but
were very well served by Dan O’Connor, Peter Keane, Nathan Unwin, Leon Browne,
Andrew Walsh, the Cranley brothers and Anto Byrne at full-forward.
Avondale’s Torna Mulconry looks the real deal at a young age
and his two goals were very well taken, his second a rocket past Dan O’Neill in
the Eire Og goal.
His neighbour in the full-forward line is the multi-talented
Zach Cullen and it is hurling’s loss that this man’s time is taken up so much
by football with club and county because the ingredients of a seriously
talented hurler are all there in abundance.
Eugene Dunne worked hard as always, Shane Byrne and Jack
Manley tried hard, Eamon Kearns was employed to deal with the aerial threat of
Andrew Walsh in front of the Avondale goal and this robbed the game of his
power and creativity further out the field although he still managed to chip in
with three points, two from frees, one of those an absolute monster in the
Avondale were just two points behind the Greystones men when
‘Pooch’ grabbed the first of his hammer blows after 10 minutes of the second
half and they were just four behind when he rifled in his second with 60 on the
match clock and although Mulconry hit back immediately there was no way
Avondale were going to have time to stage a recovery.
However, it should also be noted that Avondale goalkeeper
Tom Finn pulled off three superb saves over the course of this game to keep his
side’s head above water so to speak.
Eire Og started brightly, Leon Browne and James Cranley
firing over two peaches in the opening moments of this game, with Eugene Dunne
bagging the first of 11 wides for the Dales early on.
Zach Cullen got Michael Neary’s men off the mark with a
lovely score after being picked out by Eamon Kearns from deep and the Dales led
after six when Zach Cullen used his physical strength to hold off two Eire Og
defenders and gather a long ball before feeding it across the square to
Mulconry who turned neatly and finished home past Dan O’Neill, 1-1 to 0-2.
Eire Og struck back immediately. A long clearance from Dan
O’Neill dropped down on top of Andrew Walsh and Eamonn Kearns with full-back
Conor Sheehan committing as well. The lofty Greystones attacker plucked the
ball magnificently from the sky before turning and passing on to Anto Byrne who
charged down on Tom Finn’s goal before driving the ball into the turf in front
of the Avondale netminder and watched as it bounced into the back of the net.
Zach Cullen responded with a lovely score after an
unforgiving tussle for a loose ball but this was answered by a converted Shaun
Cranley free after he was fouled by the sweeping Eoin Baker with 13 on the
Avondale’s Niall Heffernan fired a shot at the Eire Og posts
shortly afterwards but it was waved wide by the umpires. Heffernan argued that
it had went over but the decision stood.
It was abundantly clear that Eamonn Kearns was going to have
his hands full with Andrew Walsh because the Greystones man caught another
boomer, this time from a Peter Keane clearance, turned and galloped towards
goal but his shot was saved magnificently by Tom Finn with an outstanding
reflex action to divert the ball from his net. Cranley went wide with the 65.
Finn was called into action again after 20 minutes when he
saved was ‘Pooch’ but Eire Og finished the half in a relatively healthy
position at 1-7 to 1-3 ahead with points from Leon Browne and three from Shaun
Cranley (two frees) while Eugene Dunne (free) completed the Dales’ first-half
The second half wasn’t 30 second sold before Finn was the
hero again, this time saving from Anto Byrne. Eamonn Kearns drove the ball over
the bar from his own 45 moments later after Eire Og were found guilty of
Scallan’s men pushed five points clear over the next three
minutes thanks to white flags from ‘Pooch’ and Nathan Unwin but Michael Neary’s
men hit back hard with singles two from Niall Heffernan (one free), the second
arriving after Eamonn Kearns won a free after being taken out of it by his own
man, Shane Browne.
Cranley’s first goal was the start of the end for Avondale.
They replied with a point in between two wides but James Cranley replied to
leave five between the sides again. Shaun Cranley and Eamonn Kearns traded
frees as the clock ticked rapidly towards the 30.
Kearns added a sweet score from play to leave just four
between them but ‘Pooch’ popped up and slipped a ripper past Finn at his near
post to more or less kill the game.
Mulconry’s goal arrived immediately afterwards but it was
too little too late.
There was a tense finish to this game. Liam Keenan’s final
whistle was met with strong words between Michael Neary and Eamonn Scallan.
From this reporter’s position it was impossible to tell what was being said but
County Board officials and match stewards were on hand to try and calm the
A good win for Eire Og. They’re going to cause the big two
in this group problems. Very hard to see them beating them but it’s very
exciting to consider how both will attempt to deal with Andrew Walsh and Anto
Byrne, the Cranley’s, Nathan Unwin and Leon Browne. This is not a bad side at
The Dales were
impressive in patches and were well in the game until that third goal