Twenty points, 11 different scorers and seven of whom scored at least twice: those statistics were heartily digested down Stradbally way after they signalled their Conway Cup intent against a battling St Saviours in Kill last Saturday.
Inside the first eight minutes, Stradbally were three points ahead thanks to Daniel Weldon, the impressive Paddy Kiely and a Michael Sweeney free.
But back came Saviours, who, in their first attack of note fond the Cove men’s net thanks to a super strike from Kevin Boland following fine approach play by minor player Keelan Cassidy.
Yet the goal did little to change the complexion of this fixture, one of the highlights of which was the battle between Saviours full-back Dean Crowley and the towering Shane Aherne.
Ger Power struck a fine 30-metre point after 17 minutes, Shane Aherne effortlessly stroked two frees over the sweet spot in the 19th and 22nd minutes before Michael Sweeney added another impressive point barely a minute later.
Garth Duffy, a fine addition to Saviours’ ranks this year, robbed Tommy Connors of possession to point well in the 26th minute. Two minutes later, Connors linked up well with Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh to release Robert Aherne for a fine point, and Connors proved provider again to Ger Power in additional time to complete the first half scoring.
After the break, as Saviours laboured for a score, Stradbally kept working the scoreboard, with their five opening scores between the 31st and 39th minutes all well conceived and superbly executed.
Paul Tobin, Daniel Weldon, corner-back Kevin Lawlor, Paddy Kiely and Robert Aherne all found the target with great precision, on a night when the victors also sent nine other scoring attempts ‘as láthair’.
Saviours ended a 15-minute wait for a point via a Garth Duffy free in the 41st minutes and Duffy quickly landed another free to draw the Ballybeg club within eight points of the former champions.
But that mini-revival served only to bolster further the Stradbally effort, and it was impossible not to be impressed by the way they went about their business given how well they played and how well-trained they clearly looked.
Michael Sweeney bisected the uprights with a 43rd minute free, followed quickly by a Michael Walsh point (once more, the Brick skilfully glided around the paddock over the hour). Saviours goalkeeper Paul Holohan superbly denied Michael Sweeney a 47th minute goal, with Paul Tobin duly sending the ball over the crossbar thereafter.
Shane Aherne, the outstanding Paddy Kiely (who looks like he was cut from a quarry such is his strength) and substitute Trevor Curran completed the scoring for a very impressive Stradbally side. Saviours’ ambition come round five is altogether more fundamental: survival.
* Stradbally’s David and Tony Grey were conspicuous by their absence last Saturday, and not for the first time this season. Last Saturday also reminded the 60 or so who were eligible to pay at the gate (there were surely a few season ticket holders there among them, of course) about the conspicuous absences of both Shane and Robert Aherne from the Waterford team in the Championship. We badly need both in white and blue, and that’s hardly an isolated viewpoint.