Abbeyside look awesome as Tony Browne sees red

Abbeyside\'s Mark Fives keep his eyes focused on the sliotar.

Abbeyside's Mark Fives keep his eyes focused on the sliotar.

Abbeyside . . . 1-21; Mount Sion . . . 0-13

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It is far from certain who will claim Waterford’s premier hurling championship title this year, but one team have certainly served due notice to all and sundry.

Yes, at Walsh Park on Sunday afternoon last Abbeyside handed out a crushing first round defeat to Mount Sion and there wasn’t even the slightest element of doubt about the result. From beginning to end there was only one team in it, as the visitors producing an invigorating brand of fast, open hurling and took control virtually from the start, despite playing against a somewhat influential first-half breeze.

By the beginning of the second quarter, the Western visitors had run up a staggering nine points to one lead, and while the much out-of-sorts city outfit showed some semblance of improvement they still trailed by twelve points to five at the interval.

The half-time introduction of Tony Browne was seen as a step in the right direction by the Monastery team mentors, but it backfired. Without even getting to play the ball Browne was red-carded by referee Tommy O’Sullivan, following a physical altercation with his midfield opponent, and to all and intents and purposes this game as a contest died there and then.

Yet, credit Mount Sion for, despite their many shortcomings, they were still only four points in arrears at the three-quarter stage, but the goal they so badly needed never remotely looked like coming.

Eleven minutes from the end, Abbeyside struck for the only goal of the match to extend their lead at the time to eight, and even though ‘Sion did succeed in matching the winners point for point in the concluding five minutes Abbeyside were worth every iota of their eleven-point win.

Impressive lead

Mark Ferncombe, who was unerring from frees, gave Abbeyside the lead after six minutes, and the ever-impressive Mark Fives added another three minutes later.

Ken McGrath from a placed position on his own 65-metre line raised Mount Sion’s first white flag in the 10th minute, but it was all one-way traffic from there to the end of the opening quarter as the Villagers rifled over points with telling effect from John Gorman, Mark Ferncombe, Mark Fives and Gary Hurney to be eight clear in the 16th minute – 0-9 to 0-1.

Mount Sion had to wait till the 22nd minute for theirs second point, also from a placed position by Michael Frisby. But they showed some signs of recovery coming up to half-time thanks it must be said, to the indefatigable efforts of Ken McGrath, yet they trailed by twelve to five when the short whistle sounded.

Whatever lingering hopes that a better second half could be on the horizon were completely dashed following the dismissal of Browne within thirty seconds of the throw in.

Abbeyside still remained in control and while understandably they may have been inclined to rest a little on their oars, they still pushed forward for victory. Pride alone marked most of the losers’ efforts. Underage substitute Brian Cusack got their initial score of the second period direct from a sideline ball. Ken and Eoin McGrath, along with Ross O’Keeffe and Michael Frisby, came up with further third-quarter scores, while the winners’ brace during this period came from Mark Ferncombe and Gary Hurney.

Once Mark Gorman found the net for Abbeyside in the 49th minute, the result was beyond doubt. Mount Sion tried manfully to save face, yet at the call of time it was the Abbeyside following who headed home by far the happier.

Flawless

In an excellent Abbeyside performance – which must put them near the top of shortlist to win this coveted title for the first time – the likes of Gavin Breen, Richie Foley, John Kindregan and goalie Darrell Ryan excelled, fully complemented by the outstanding work further outfield of John Foley, Gary Hurney, Mark Fives, Mark Gorman, and Mark Ferncombe.

This was an exceptionably poor Mt Sion performance, but exceptions in the case of Ken and Eoin McGrath, Ian O’Regan, Brian Flannery and Michael Frisby must be made. Ken was the outstanding hurler on view, and in all honestly he saved his team from a much heavier defeat.

Teams and scorers

Abbeyside: D. Ryan, S. Briggs, J. Kindregan, G. Breen, P. Lynch, R. Foley, E.Enright, S. O’Hare, J. Foley, G. Hurney, M. Gorman, M. Fives, M. Ferncombe, J. Gorman, L. Hurney. Subs: T. Murray for J. Foley, D. Fives for L. Hurney.

Scorers: Mark Gorman (1-5, 0-5 frees), Mark Fives 0-4, Mark Ferncombe 0-4, Gary Hurney 0-3, John Gorman 0-3, Richie Foley, Tiernan Murray 0-1each.

Mount Sion: I. O’Regan, B. Flannery, P. Hammond, K. Flynn, K. Stafford, K. McGrath, S. Twomey, F. O’Shea, N. Jacob, E. McGrath, J. O’Farrell, M. Frisby, R. O’Keeffe, A. Kirwan, B. Browne. Subs: C. Ryan for S. Twomey, T. Browne for J. O’Farrell, B. Cusack for N. Jacob, R. McGrath for F. O’Shea.

Mount Sion: Ken McGrath 0-5, Michael Frisby 0-4, Eoin McGrath 0-2, Ross O’Keeffe, Brian Cusack 0-1 each.

Referee: T. Sullivan (Cappoquin)

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