Stradbally hurlers secure their senior status

Stradbally\'s Paddy Doyle and Ardmore\'s Eoin Foley pictured in action during their Waterford Senior hurling championship relegation clash at Fraher Field, Dungarvan. Photo: Michael Kiely

Stradbally's Paddy Doyle and Ardmore's Eoin Foley pictured in action during their Waterford Senior hurling championship relegation clash at Fraher Field, Dungarvan. Photo: Michael Kiely

Stradbally 0-16; Ardmore 2-9

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It was tight, tense, even thrilling, as Stradbally and Ardmore provided the Fraher Field fans with an absorbing battle for supremacy in this senior hurling championship relegation play off last Saturday.

Victory at the death to pre match favourites Stradbally, and while they just about deserved to garner the spoils a draw would have been the most fitting result from a neutral perspective.

Ardmore fought the good fight from first minute to last, and it was heartbreaking for them to concede the spoils from a free a minute into added time. With a final shoot out game against Mount Sion to come – most probably this weekend – it now looks as though their six year tenure in the top flight of Waterford hurling may be about to come to an end.

It will be the final throw of the dice for both sides with the losers resigned to plying their trade in the intermediate grade in 2009.

Stradbally’s victory however has ensured that they will remain in senior ranks for another year at least, and while they had to graft hard and pull out all the stops to hold off Ardmore’s determined challenge they just about deserved their win.

Puck in it

There was never more than a puck of the ball between the sides with Ardmore just a point in front, 1-4 to 0-6, at the interval thanks in the main to Seamus Prendergast’s goal strike in the 10th minute when he brilliantly finished a Kenny Murphy free to the net.

The sides exchanged early points by Seamas Prendergast (free) and Niall Curran who went on to turn in a fabulous hour culminating in him scoring half a dozen quality points from play.

The game’s only goal came on ten minutes, with Prendergast – surprise, surprise! – the lethal executioner. Kenny Murpnhy’s well delivered free set the chance up for him, and from close range the county star gave goalkeeper Trevor Curran no chance.

With county captain Michael “Brick” Walsh becoming more and more influential in the middle of the field, and man of the match John Coffey brilliantly marshalling their defence in his pivotal role, Stradbally quickly hit back.

Thrice more Curran was on target for magnificent points as the Reds thundered into the game, but that Prendergast goal strike still enabled the seasiders to retire at the half time break with their noses ever so marginally in front, 1-4 to 0-6.

Absorbing last quarter

Within a minute of the restart Stradbally were in front after “Brick” and Curran clipped over a brace of points, and while a fortuitous Shane Leahy goal momentarily rocked them they were level in the 44th minute when superb substitute Trevor Costelloe landed a quality point.

The lead – for only the second time first time – followed on the three-quarter hour from Robin Ahearne, and the fans were then treated to an absorbing last quarter as both sides went in search of the victory spoils.

Twice more they were level, but with extra time looming it fell to the skipper to become the Stradbally match winner when he pointed the priceless winner from a free on the half way line a minute into added time.

If John Coffey and Walsh were the winners most inspirational duo there were also top class displays from goalkeeper Trevor Curran, Kevin Coffey, John Hearne, substitute Trevor Costelloe, and Niall Curran who notched half a dozen quality points from play.

Ardmore’s county trio of goalkeeper Clinton Hennessy, defender Declan Prendergast, and his brother Seamas in attack all played superbly with most assistance from Kenny Murphy, James O’Donnell and Cathal Hennessy.

Stradbally: T. Curran; K. Coffey, O. Costelloe, T. Walsh; P. Doyle, J. Coffey, A. Doyle; S. Lannon, M. Walsh; S. Cunningham, J. Hearne, R. Ahearne; G. Walsh, N. Curran, S. Ahearne; Subs: T. Costelloe for G. Walsh; L. Casey for Lannon.

Scorers: N. Curran (0-6); M. Walsh (0-5, 0-3 frees); T. Costelloe (0-2); J. Hearne S, Ahearne, R. Ahearne (0-1) each.

Ardmore: Clinton Hennessy; A. Flavin. D. Prendergast. K. Murphy; D. Hennessy. R. Hennessy, K. Murphy; J. O’Donnell, W. Hennessy; E. Foley, S. Prendergast, Cathal Hennessy; S. Leahy, J. Hennessy, A. O’Donnell; Sub: P. Gleeson for A. O’Donnell.

Scorers: S. Prendergast (1-4, 0-3 frees); S. Leahy (1-1); K. Murphy, E. Foley, J. O’Donnell, Cathal Hennessy (0-1) each.

Referee: John Condon, Ring.

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