Killenaule bow out as they fail to take their chances

Portroe 2-26 Killenaule 1-20 (after extra time)

South champions Killenaule bowed out of the clean Ireland Recycling county senior hurling championship with a disappointing extra time defeat at the hands of Portroe at The Ragg on Sunday in the preliminary quarter-final.

It was a frustrating end to a campaign which promised so much. Having captured the South title a few weeks previously, the expectation was that Killenaule would make a bold bid for county honours, but they never really reached the heights expected of them and can have no complaint about the result. They could have had their place in the last eight secured in ordinary time but some shooting lapses, from play and frees, were to prove very costly.

Two goals in extra time, one in each period, were decisive as Portroe upset the favourites to reach the county senior hurling quarter-finals, with a flattering nine points to spare. Portroe may have been fortunate to take the game to extra time. They were two points down with time running out when John Sheedy from a free, and Kevin O’Halloran for a sideline ball, registered the points that brought them level, but once they got their reprieve, they took full advantage of a flagging Killenaule side to romp home deserving winners of a keen tussle.

Killenaule underperformed for much of the hour but they appeared to be coming good at the right time, an excellent last quarter bringing them from three points adrift to lead by two with two minutes left.

To add to Portroe’s problems they had defender Justin Conroy red carded for dissent in the 57th minute, but in adversity, Portroe’s great spirit stood to them, and having forced extra time, they showed a greater appetite for the contest as the elements and the demands of the day took their toll.

Portroe were not flattered to be 0-10 to 0-7 ahead at the break as they had three likely goal chances go abegging, but Killenaule too had their lapses, and Darren Gleeson, the county goalman, twice denied “Bubbles” O’Dwyer with smart saves. Jimmy Creamer and John Sheedy were the key figures for Portroe with Kevin O’Halloran also threatening while Tony Doyle and “Bubbles” constituted the greatest Killenaule threat to Portroe.

Somewhat lethargic in the first half, Killenaule were expected to hit the ground running on resuming and when Dominic Blake netted for them inside a minute they were on terms and expected to drive on. Instead, Portroe points from John Sheedy and Michael Creamer reflected the determination of the North side to build on their first half performance.

And so the contest developed in intensity with Portroe going three points clear (0-15 to 1-9) as the third quarter drew to a close. Killenaule moved a somewhat subdued Kieran Bergin upfield at this stage with the introduction of Declan Fanning to their defence, and it improved things as they drew level by the 53rd minute, two fine Niall O’Dwyer points being particularly worthy of note (1-15 to 0-18).

“Bubbles” gave Killenaule a two points advantage and Portroe lost Justin Conroy to a red card - advantage definitely with Killenaule now with two minutes to play.

But first John Sheedy pointed, and in the 62nd minute, from forty yards out on the stand side, Kevin O’Halloran cut a sideline ball over the bar (his third of the day) to take the tie to extra time.

Inside a minute of resuming Mark Gennery had the ball in the net for Portroe, and though Tony Doyle twice pointed for Killenaule, Portroe came again for points by Ruadhan Mulrooney and Conor Leo to lead 1-22 to 1-19 at the break.

The restart saw Mulrooney bag a second goal for Portroe, and the ball was very much in their court now. Tony Doyle pointed for Killenaule but Colm Gleeson responded for Portroe. Again Killenaule surged forward but first Tony Doyle and then “Bubbles” had free attempts at goal saved. Portroe pressed home their advantage and James Ryan, John Sheedy, and goalie Darren Gleeson all shot points in a winning flourish.

Portroe- Darrren Gleeson 0-1; Christopher O’Riordan, Noel O’Halloran, Dermot O’Halloran; Michael Creamer 0-1, Colm Gleeson 0-1, Justin Conroy; Robert Byrne, Jimmy Creamer (0-2); Conor Leo 0-1, Mark Gennery (1-1), James Ryan (0-4); Kevin O’Halloran (0-4), Michael Sheedy, John Sheedy (0-10,8fs). Subs- Ruadhan Mulrooney (1-1) for M Sheedy(43mins), M Sheedy for Leo(51mins), C Leo, extra time for Conroy (red-carded);

Killenaule – Gerry Kennedy; Stephen Browne, Paddy Codd, Jimmy Feehan; Eoin O’Connell, Liam Bergin, Cillian O’Dwyer; Niall O’Dwyer (0-2), Tom Keaveney; Tony Doyle (0-7,5fs), John O’Dwyer (0-9,4fs), Pat Kerwick; Michael Doyle (0-1), Daniel Guinan, Dean O’Connor (0-1). Subs - Dominic Blake (1-0) for Kerwick(24mins); Declan Fanning for Guinan(40mins), Gearoid O’Rourke for N O’Dwyer(54mins), N O’Dwyer for Keaveney(71mins), Aidan Leahy for Feehan(74mins)

Ref- Kevin Jordan, Thurles Gaels.