Emphatic De La Salle victory over Ardmore
De La Salle . . . 1-21; Ardmore . . . 1-09
De La Salle brushed aside the challenge of Ardmore when the teams met in the opening round of the Senior Hurling championship at Fraher Field last Saturday evening.
Having come perilously close to lifting a long sought county senior title in recent seasons, DLS clearly and emphatically laid down a marker that 2008. They led virtually from start to finish, appeared to get better and better as the game progressed, and showed a sharpness not readily found this early in the championship proceedings.
Their opponents, however, were very much below strength for this initial encounter, as they fielded just six of last year’s championship quarter final side. They struggled from the start and were it not for the efforts of their inter-county senior trio, Clinton Hennessy, Seamus and Declan Prendergast, they would have been beaten by a much greater margin.
Hennessy excelled as usual between the posts and in the second minute he foiled his county colleague John Mullane of an almost certain goal and he kept his net intact until ten minutes from the end. The youngest of the Prendergast brothers had the most difficult task of all dealing with Mullane, while out the field Seamus Prendergast emerged as the most outstanding player on view as he never stopped trying to stem the De La Salle tide.
Yet nothing could detract from this splendid De La Salle performance. All seven defenders came up trumps and it must be very reassuring for manager Eoin Dunphy and his fellow selectors that the county players Brian Phelan and Kevin Moran lead by example throughout. The city side had five points on the score board, before Ardmore finally got a look in after ten minutes.
The same margin existed between the teams coming up to the end of the first quarter, when a brilliantly executed Ardmore goal in the 14th minute, brought the game to life. A much more even contest existed after that up to the break, at which stage De La Salle looked the more comfortable with a lead of 0-11 to 1-3. It would have been more were it not for a marvellous save by Hennessy from Conan Watt seconds before the half time whistle.
De La Salle continued to exert their superiority on the resumption and with points of vintage quality. Ardmore hit back with three points on the trot and there was a glimmer of hope that an upset might be on the cards after all. But from the 53rd minute to the end, De La Salle finished with a flourish. Four additional points in that closing period without reply, underlined their supremacy in a most emphatic manner.
Conditions were perfect for this meeting at Fraher Field, but it wasn’t all that long before the prospects of a likely upset soon disappeared. With the city men at full strength, their opponents were only able to muster a starting fifteen by calling upon a number of their junior players. The result of the match was never seriously in doubt.
The winners started and finished strongly. John Mullane was denied an early goal, scored a delightful point from play sixty seconds later. Dean Twomey, Dermot Dooley, James Quirke and Brian Moran followed with an uninterrupted string of points for DLS to be clear after only nine minutes gone.
What Ardmore may have lacked on the day it certainly was not courage. Seamus Prendergast scored a long range point from a free but John Mullane responded almost immediately at the opposite end, before David Hennessy had the Seasiders first white flag from play in the 12th minute. James Quirke has his first of seven points shortly afterwards, but the situation changed dramatically a minute later when a speculative Seamus Prendergast free into the De La Salle goalmouth area, was finished to the net by a well positioned Gary North. Suddenly despite all their territorial advantage, the city men’s lead had been cut to two points.
An exchange of points involving John Mullane and Seamus Prendergast brought play into the second quarter, but significantly the western side failed to register again before the break. De La Salle consolidated their position with additional white from Conan Watt and John Mullane to lead by five points at a half time.
Within thirty seconds of the restart, De La Salle took up where they had left off with a further John Mullane point, and while this was matched with a similar reply from Seamus Prendergast three minutes later, the Ardmore forwards continued to make little or no impression on a solid De La Salle rearguard.
Indeed the city men upped their game and with John Mullane and Alan O’Neill causing panic in the Ardmore defence, James Quirke was unerring with his frees as the Eastern colours opened up a massive lead of 0-17 to 1-5.
A badly needed Ardmore point came a minute later from newcomer Paul Gleeson, only to be answered in double quick by a gaol from James Quirke now operating at full forward. To their credit, gave their supporters something to cheer when Seamus Prendergast and Eoin Foley tagged on three points on the trot. De La Salle rounded off with a vengeance, and four late unanswered points from James Quirke, Conan Watt, Dean Twomey and John Mullane, merely copper fastened what had been ordained long before.
It would be foolhardy to read anything more than the fact that this was a group stage win and an indication that a place in the qualifiers is now within De La Salle’s grasp. Bigger and indeed more formidable tests have still to come. De La Salle certainly looked a more focused side than last season and their progress from here will be watched with considerable interest. They had five star performances from Kevin Moran, Brian Phelan, Ian Flynn, Darren Russell, James Quirke, and John Mullane, while goalie Steven Brenner was never troubled between the posts. The second half inclusion of Derek McGrath, who was with his college team in recent, was an indicator of the strength in reserve for the city side.
Ardmore who reached last year’s quarter finals will be the first to admit that they now face a mammoth task to hold on to their senior status. The three inter-county men performed well as did Johnny and Declan Hennessy and Gary North.
Teams and scorers
De La Salle: Stevie Brenner, Darren Russell, Ian Flynn, Michael Doherty, David Green, Brian Phelan, Kevin Moran, Brian Farrell, Padraig Nevin, Conan Watt, Alan O’Neill, James Quirke, Dean Twomey, John Mullane, Dermot Dooley. Subs: Derek McGrath for A O’Neill.
Scorers: James Quirke 1-7, John Mullane 0-7, Conan Watt and Dean Twomey 0-2 each, Kevin Moran, Dermot Dooley and Alan O’Neill 0-1 each.
Ardmore: Clinton Hennessy, Kenny Murphy, Declan Prendergast, Patrick Prendergast, Alan North, John Hennessy, Shane Leahy, Declan Hennessy, Seamus Prendergast, Eoin Foley , Paul Gleeson, Gary North, Adrian O’Donnell, James O’Donnell, Brian Keane. Subs: Dan Carlton for J.O’Donnell, Ciaran Foley for B Keane.
Scorers: Seamus Prendergast 0-6, Gary North 1-0, David Hennessy 0-2 and Eoin Foley 0-1.
Ref: Vincent O’Toole (Roanmore).
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