County champions Stradbally got the defence of their title off to a successful start when they defeated a disappointing Gaultier side in Kill last Saturday evening. From the moment Niall Curran opened the scoring with a fourth minute free, the result never looked in doubt and on this performance Stradbally will not be separated easily from their crown.
The seeds of this victory were sown in an extremely hard-working first half from the Reds, when, playing against the wind and the hill, they did enough to eke out an interval lead of five points.
Over the years, Stradbally have become the masters at soaking up pressure and then hitting on the counter-attack. It is a game-plan that requires hard work and intelligent players with the ability to carry this out. In the first half of this game they played out their game plan to perfection. With eleven minutes played the sides were level at two points each but then Stradbally really turned the screw. Like an old, experienced boxer, they saw what their opponents had to offer before fighting back with their own armoury.
A thirteenth minute fisted point from Michael Walsh put Stradbally in front before further points from the elusive Tommy Connors, Stephen Cunningham and another from Connors helped Stradbally open up a decisive lead. A terrible mistake in the Gaultier defence led to Walsh scoring his second of the game which gave the champions a half-time lead of 0-7 to 0-2.
In that first half, Gaultier made little or no use of the wind. Time and time again, after working so hard to win the ball, they gifted it back to Stradbally with aimless kicks or poor hand-passes.
Gaultier started the second-half brightly when JJ Hutchinson converted another free before the same player set up Ian Power for a superb point which raised their hopes of an unlikely comeback.
Stradbally were in no mood to let this game descend into a dogfight and two points in as many minutes in the 41st and 42nd minutes from John Coffey and Robert Aherne reasserted their authority on the scoreboard.
See The Munster Express newspaper for full match report.