Éire Óg 1-10
Glenealy sent out a major warning shot to all parties that they are intent on reclaiming the O’Donoghue Cup this year with an emphatic and hugely impressive victory over Éire óg Greystones in the Senior hurling league final in Aughrim last Sunday evening.
Any lethargy or unsteadiness that might have been within the camp in 2020 has been wiped out by new manager MA O’Neill and the former Wicklow and Glenealy defender looks to have his charges biting at the bit for action and hungry as hell for victory.
The desire to play quality hurling was one of the key takeaways from this pillar to post win for the Reds on a beautiful evening in Aughrim. Splitting the posts from all angles, accurate passing, lovely movement, hunting down their opponents, working hard for each other and the cause while all the time focused on the job at hand and nothing else were the most impressive facets of this Glenealy performance against a previously unbeaten Éire Óg side.
Obviously, there’ll be no getting carried away with a league title in Glenealy. It was very much a case of job done when the final whistle sounded last Sunday. There was no outpouring of emotion or significant back slapping.
There seems to be very much a case of a ‘bigger picture’ mentality at play and MA O’Neill will be all too aware that this win will stand for nothing come the business end of the championship in a few short weeks.
Glenealy will also be aware that Éire Óg never really turned up for this game and showed very little appetite for the battle. The Greystones side were also guilty of wayward shooting, registering close to 20 wides over the course of the hour. In saying that, however, it should also be added that they weren’t given the time or the space to hurl.
Worryingly from Eamonn Scallan’s point of view is that they only scored 1-3 from play compared with Glenealy’s 2-12 and they were also unable to benefit from having an extra man when Ronan Manley picked up a second yellow card from referee Eddie Leonard before the second water break.
Glenealy led by 0-5 to 1-1 at the first water break, Anto Byrne flicking home past Cian Staunton after nine minutes for Éire Óg’s first score of the game while Gary Hughes, Alan Driver, Warren Kavanagh, Ronan Manley and Jonathan O’Neill Snr (free) clocked up Glenealy’s five-point haul in very impressive fashion.
By half-time Éire Óg were in serious bother. Their radar was off and Glenealy were playing with a real structure but also a definite sense of adventure and had registered points from the excellent Gavin Weir (2), Bosco Snr (free), Gary Hughes (2), Alan Driver and the fearless Danny Staunton (2, one free and a 65) to wrench open a 0-13 to 1-5 lead with James Cranley bagging all Éire Óg’s scores from placed balls.
Scallan’s men enjoyed their brightest spell immediately after the restart when they added two quick scores, the first from Danny Nolan after class vision from ‘Chester’ Kelly, the second from Andy Walsh but then disaster struck when a booming clearance from the tigerish Paul O’Brien deceived Dan O’Neill in the Éire Óg goal and slipped in at the top corner for a very damaging goal. 1-13 to 1-7.
Glenealy’s tails were up now. They added a point from Alan Driver and then wonderful play between Gary Hughes and Gavin Weir saw Weir flick the ball majestically across the goal to Gary Byrne who finished home with eight on the second-half clock. Almost impossible to see a way back for Éire Óg.
Danny Staunton added a wicked score after a tasty exchange with Bosco O’Neill from a sideline and then Glenealy lost Ronan Manley to that second yellow for what was deemed as careless use of the hurl under a high ball. There was no panic on the Glenealy sideline. Jamie Byrne was moved to midfield, Gavin Weir to half-forward and once the second water break was out of the way the Reds just kept hurling.
James Cranley kept the Éire Óg scoreboard ticking over but they couldn’t really trouble the Glenealy goal given the hunger of the defence marshalled so well by Joey Driver and Warren Kavanagh.
Make no mistake about it, this was quality hurling from Glenealy. From Cian Staunton’s healthy variation on the puck-outs, to Declan Conyard and Paul O’Brien hunting eagerly in the corners, to the class act that is Matthew Traynor at half-back, the leadership of Warren Kavanagh, the dynamism of Gary Byrne and Danny Staunton at midfield, the attacking and defending qualities in the half-forward line and the finishing power in the form of Gavin Weir, Bosco and Gary Hughes up front, this was an excellent display from Glenealy. One negative from the evening for the Reds was the sight of Jonathan O’Neill Jnr having to be helped off with what looked to be a hamstring injury shortly after entering the fray for Gary Hughes.
It didn’t happen for Éire Óg on the day. That shouldn’t undermine a super run in the league.
Both these sides will meet again in the championship fairly shortly. Expect things to be tighter when the final whistle sounds but it will be a seismic shock if the end result is different.