Stradbally on course with a vengeance
Stradbally . . . 3-11; St. Brendan’s . . . 0-8
In the end it was as comprehensive as the final score line suggests and it guarantees the victors a place in this year’s Lawlor’s Hotel Senior Football Championship quarter finals. Played at Lemybrien G.A.A. Grounds on Sunday evening last, this 4th round affair never gave the firm pre-match favourites the slightest bit of bother or concern, as the ‘reds’ producing their best display of the season so far, romped home the easy and most comprehensive 3-11 to 0-8 winners over group team St. Brendan’s, who were never allowed to settle and in serious trouble the longer this mid-county derby match continued.
Of course Stradbally had by any conceivable yardstick the best possible of starts when in the opening minute they raced through for their first of three match goals, and never really looked back. With Stephen Cunningham and Tony Grey combining ever so nicely after the throw in, versatile George Walsh was on hand to beat county senior custodian in the group team’s goal for a lead never subsequently relinquished.
By the game’s 6th minute, the ‘reds’ advantage had been extended to five, following a brace of Niall Curran points – the first from play in the second minute of the action, and the other from a free four minutes later. Indeed Stradbally’s early dominance could have been extended more in the 9th minute, when impressive comparative newcomer Tommy Connors was impeded inside the restricted, and county hurling star Michael (Brick) Walsh blazed the resultant penalty wide of the target.
Gradually St. Brendan’s commenced to settle and fittingly it was their most dynamic performer Ray Hennessy who succeeded in opening their account with an excellent points from play after ten minutes play , and when an exchange of points from placed positions followed from Stephen Cunningham and Richie Walsh , it looked as if the contest would proceed further towards fulfilling all pre-match expectations. However despite a renewed all round St. Brendan’s effort, the Taysiders still had plenty in the tank, and they commenced to move into more comfortable waters again when Niall Curran with his second brace of points in the 23rd and 24th minutes extended their lead still further, and it was close to the half time whistle, when Mick Ahearne from a free managed to get one back for the Eastern men, leaving the score board reading at the break – Stradbally 1-6; St. Brendan’s 0-3.
Winners dominance extended
What ever lingering hopes may have existed of a possible resurgence by the group side on the resumption, were quickly laid to rest within minutes of the restart. Only ninety seconds had elapsed when Niall Curran stretched Stradbally’s lead with a further point from a placed position ,and when the same player found the ‘Brendan’s net in the 36th minute, a double figure lead had suddenly opened up between the teams The hard working Ray Hennessy and Stephen Cunningham swapped points to at least keep some semblance of interest in the proceedings, but in the 42nd minute came the goal of the day, if not of the entire championship, as Tommy Connors jinked his way past three defenders, to land a peach of a score, and put Stradbally thirteen points in front and surely now there was no way back for the group side.
Yet remarkably enough in the remaining eighteen minutes or so , the losers actually outpointed the winners on a four to three ratio, but it was as close as St. Brendan’s would come to causing an upset. The latter in fact were thrown a ray of hope when the Hennessy’s-Mark and Niall ,came up with points in the 50th and 52nd minutes, but the quick response from Tony Grey proved something really special and a point of vintage quality. It was all mundane stuff during the concluding six minutes, with substitute Martin Scurry and John Coffey first trading points, before Niall Curran and Patsy Casey repeated the process, to write ‘finish’ to what was just a routine job of work for the much improved Stradbally men.
Final score again – Stradbally 3-11; St.Brendan’s 0-8.
Quarter final bound
So Stradbally safely join their arch rivals Nire in the quarter finals of the premier big ball championship ,and with continued improvement could yet be the one to really challenge defending champions Ballinacourty in the ultimate shake up.They were by far the better balanced side and had really star performers in the likes of Tony Grey, Trevor Costelloe, John Hearne, John Coffey, Tommy Connors, Niall Curran and Stephen Cunningham, while the vanquished drawn from Intermediate clubs Kill, Bonmahon and Newtown, failed to reproduce their earlier championship form, and to a large extent relied heavily on experienced players Mick Ahearne, Ray Hennessy, Ger Hayes and Thomas Wall to stay in the hunt.
Stradbally: Niall Curran 1-6, Tommy Connors 1-1, George Walsh 1-0, Stephen Cunningham 0-2, Tony Grey and John Coffey 0-1 each.
St. Brendan’s: Ray Hennessy 0-2, Richie Walsh, Mick Ahearne, Mark Hennessy, Niall Hennessy, Patsy Casey and Martin Scurry 0-1 each.
Stradbally: Eoin Cunningham, Paddy Doyle, Kevin Coffey, Thomas Walsh, Tony Grey, Shane Lannon, Trevor Costelloe, John Hearne, Michael Walsh, John Coffey, Shane Ahearne, Tommy Connors, Niall Curran, Stephen Cunningham, George Walsh. Subs – Robert Ahearne for G. Walsh, Trevor Curran for S. Cunningham, Oliver Costelloe for S. Ahearne, Emmett Cummins for T. Grey.
St. Brendan’s: Thomas Wall (Bonmahon), Brian Mooney (Kill), Ger Hayes (Bonmahon), Fergal Whelan (Kill), Niall Hennessy (Kill), Patsy Casey (Bonmahon), Ger Dunphy (Newtown), Mick Ahearne (Kill), Mark Hennessy (Kill), Tommy Power (Bonmahon), Ray Hennessy (Kill), Dermot Casey ( Bonmahon), Richard Kirwan (Newtown), Anthony Kiely ( Kill), Richie Walsh (Bonmahon. Subs – Conor Hennessy (Kill) for R. Kirwan, Martin Scurry (Newtown) for C. Hennessy, John Fitzgerald (Bonmahon) for B. Mooney,
Referee: John Condon (Ring).
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