Carrick Swans bowed out of the County U-21 â€˜Aâ€™ Hurling Championship on Sunday last when losing by 19 points to â€¨Kilruane at Templemore.
For the recently crowned South champions this was a most disappointing end to their campaign. Quite simply on Sunday last they were outclassed by a more skilful and physically stronger Kilruane side and the â€˜earlyâ€™ final whistle came as a merciful relief to the Carrick contingent.
After an exchange of points in the first five minutes when Mikey Loughmanâ€™s 40 metre free equalised Niall Oâ€™Mearaâ€™s opening â€˜65 for MacDonaghs, it was all one-way traffic.
By the 10th minute the North champions had extended their advantage to 0-5 to 0-1 as Kieran Cahill and Justin Cahill began dominating around the middle of the park. Nice points by Robert Austin and David Williams were bookended by a pair of Niall Oâ€™Meara frees.
The game was effectively done and dusted by 13 minutes with Kilruane rattling the Swans net twice in a two minute spell to stretch the lead to 11 points.
Thomas Hoganâ€™s long delivery was won by David Williams and his pass set up Conor Cleary for the first goal.
Within two minutes the other wing-forward Thomas Cleary gave Kieran Lonergan no chance with a screamer from 14 metres.
As best they could Swan struck to the task and in the second quarter they had their best period of the game with three points from play via Declan White, an exquisite sideline cut from 30 metres by Jack Walsh and a well-finished point by Bill Walsh after Dale Oâ€™Hanlon first won a high ball and then delivered a pin point pass to the centre-forward.
However, the constant pressure on the Carrick defence was forcing the concession of too many frees and for each point that the Swans could labouriously eke out the MacDonaghs replied with frees, one from Niall Oâ€™Meara and then three from ciotÃ³g Justin Cahill as freetaker Oâ€™Meara recovered from a blow.
At half-time, even after shooting 10 wides, the Cloughjordan side led by 2-9 to 0-4.
Swan moved Bill Walsh in to full-forward at the commencement of the second half and within a minute he had a half -chance at goal smothered out. The boost that was badly needed by the Carrick boys never came and in the whole of the second period they could only muster two points from frees, both from Mikey Loughman; the second a goal effort deflected over.
On the other hand Kilruane, North champions for the second year in a row, went through the motions and added 10 points at will as the Swansâ€™ heads bowed.
Justin Cahill and Niall Oâ€™Meara, sharing the free-taking responsibilities, had three points apiece, one a free from Oâ€™Meara and one a 65 from Cahill after Kieran Lonergan got down low to pull off an excellent save from Niall Oâ€™Meara in the 56th minute.
The final point of the game, and the ninth in succession without a reply, was scored by Kilruaneâ€™s Robert Austin.
With it, and mercifully almost, referee Phil Ryan brought proceedings to a conclusion 90 seconds early.
Kilruane will be hoping to go on and claim the county crown next weekend but may not have learned too much from this encounter as they prepare to face Thurles Sarsfields.
In Kieran Cahill, Justin Cahill and Niall Oâ€™Meara they had outstanding performances, all of the forward line scored and the backs dealt capably with any threat that came their way.
For Swan it was a hard lesson but they can take heart in some battling performances most notably from Dale Oâ€™Hanlon and Colin Waters in the half-back line. The full-back line of Jamie Torpey, James Barrett and Gavin Oâ€™Halloran will rarely be as busy but all tried manfully to the end. Lee Wall had some moments too before being forced off after a â€˜bad pull.â€™
The choice of venue too didnâ€™t help the Carrick Swans cause either. The round trip of close-on 100 miles to Templemore in the month of December affected their loyal support base. It seems the Swans were not met half-way in any sense of the meaning.
Kilruane MacDonaghs: David Reddan, Stephen Cleary, Eanna Hogan, Jack Peters, Thomas Hogan, Kieran Cahill (0-1), Conor Austin, Justin Cahill (0-6, 0-3F 1x65), Alan Darcy, Thomas Cleary (1-1), Niall Oâ€™Meara (0-7, 0-4F 1x65), Conor Cleary (1-0), Robert Austin (0-2), Eoin Williams (Capt) (0-1), David Williams (0-1).
Subs: Aidan Boyle for T. Hogan; Bob Dooley for C. Cleary; Caoilainn for E. Williams; David Mooney for C. Austin; Paddy Ryan for Niall Oâ€™Meara.
Carrick Swans: Kieran Lonergan, Jamie Torpey, James Barrett, Gavid Oâ€™Halloran, Colin Loughman, Colin Waters, Dale Oâ€™Hanlon, Jack Walsh (0-1), Lee Wall, Declan White (0-1), Bill Walsh (0-1), Mikey Loughman (0-3), Luke Gahan, Dean Murphy (Capt), Martin Griffin.
Subs: Evan Hogan for Lee Wall (inj.); Bill Barrett for L. Gahan; Dean Waters for M. Griffin, Sean Dunphy for D. White; Derek Burrows for M. Loughman.
Referee: Phil Ryan (Knockavilla/Kickhams).