A strong second half performance from Killenaule swept them to a comfortable six points victory over Eire Og Annacarty in a disappointing county senior hurling championship game at Boherlahan on Sunday last.
Whatever the manner of its achievement, the win sets up Killenaule for a place in the qualifying rounds of the championship proper as with Loughmore-Castleiney and Lorrha also in the group, any loss is a big setback and not easily atoned for.
On the other hand, Eire Og now have a struggle ahead of them, particularly as their next opponents are Loughmore-Castleiney, still smarting after a surprise defeat by Lorrha in the opening game. A second loss would almost certainly end Eire Ogâ€™s chances of qualifying and leave them looking to the West championship for salvation.
A hand injury to Tipperary utility player Kieran Bergin of Killenaule, which could keep him out of Sundayâ€™s National Hurling League semi-final against Waterford was the main talking point on Sunday.
Bergin did not start for Killenaule as he was recovering from an ankle injury sustained against Offaly in the league quarter-final two weeks earlier, but with Killenaule struggling to see off the challenge of the West side, he came on at midfield for the second half . He took a knock on the hand, ten minutes from the end. Initially it was thought it was a blood injury but when club officials examined it, fears that there may be a bone broken in the back of his hand prompted them to withdraw him.
He left the pitch with his hand in a sling and the injuryâ€™s progress will be monitored by county management during the week.
Much was expected of this contest between two sides with aspirations of figuring in the eventual championship shake-up, but the game fell well below expectations with Eire Og in particular struggling to find the form of the past two seasons. Their attack was very disappointing and seldom troubled the Killenaule rearguard, full-forward Padraic O Dwyerâ€™s free-taking being the main source of scores. They finished with a total of sixteen wides, a clear indication of an aspect of their game in need of urgent attention. Five of their eight scores were from frees.
For their part, Killenaule shot twelve wides in a low key performance but they will be happy to have opened their campaign on a winning note, and can look forward to better things in their next outing against Lorrha.
A decent sized attendance waited, and waited, for this game to get off the ground but in never really came to any great heights, though the closeness of the scoring for much of the way maintained interest. After a slowish start, Killenaule got a grip coming to half-time and once they drew level after twenty five minutes, they never looked back.
Eire Og were the better team early on, and points by Padraic O Dwyer(2fs) and Conor O Brien, to a John O Dwyer free for Killenaule had the West lads ahead three to one after nine minutes. Billy Barrett and O Dwyer brought Killenaule level after 18minutes, and then Padraic Oâ€™Dwyer twice nudged Eire Og ahead only for Bubbles and Niall Oâ€™Dwyer to keep Killenaule abreast of them after 25 minutes.
Both sides were slack in their finishing but Killenaule with a brace of points from John Oâ€™Dwyer, coming to the break went in at half-time leading 0-7 to 0-5.
A point inside a minute of resuming by Donal Oâ€™Dwyer for Eire Og was soon cancelled by Killenauleâ€™s Billy Barrett. Padriac O Dwyer again pointed for Anacarty but the next three points went to Killenaule, subs Vinnie Hannigan, and Pat Kerwick along with John O Dwyer opening a four points lead after fifty minutes.
As the Eire Og wides tally kept mounting, â€œBubblesâ€ added another Killeanule point in the 57th minute. Brian Fox responded for Eire Og, but as the game went into injury Bubbles and Daniel Guinan extended Killenauleâ€™s winning margin to six.
Killenaule will face Lorrha next time out, and under coach Paddy Moore are capable of better than this, but will surely be the better for the game. John Oâ€™Dwyer was their main source of scores. He notched eight, five from frees, and though he had some lapses in this department, the quality was there for all to see. Tony Doyle, Billy Barrett, Daniel Guinan, Joe Oâ€™Dwyer, Paddy Codd and Michael Doyle were others to work hard for this win.
Eire Og meet Loughmore-Castleiney next and would have to be concerned with the level of this performance as another defeat would almost certainly rule them out of contention for a qualifying place in the county series proper. Tom Fox did well in his job of policing John Oâ€™Dwyer. Paul Downey, Padraic Oâ€™Dwyer, and Conor Oâ€™Brien, also put in a fine effort.
Killenaule scorers- Jn Oâ€™Dwyer(0-8,5fs), B Barrett(0-2),N Oâ€™Dwyer, D Guinan, P Kerwick, V Hannigan(0-1 each); Eire Og scorers- P Oâ€™Dwyer (0-5,5fs); C O Brien, D Oâ€™Dwyer, B Fox (0-1)each;
Killenaule- G Kennedy; S Browne, A Leahy, P Codd; J Feehan, Joe O Dwyer, E O Connell; N Oâ€™Dwyer, D Blake; M Doyle, T Keaveney, D Guinan; B Barrett, T Doyle, Jn O Dwyer; Subs- K Bergin for Feehan; V Hannigan for Blake; P Kerwick for Keaveney; D O Connor for Bergin;
Eire Og, Annacarty â€“ D Mooney; D Ryan, E Kennedy, P McGrath; P Downey, B Fox, T Fox; K Fox, J Furlong; D Oâ€™Dwyer, C Oâ€™Brien, E Bradshaw; R Doherty, P Oâ€™Dwyer, R Oâ€™Brien; Sub P Horan for Doherty;
Ref- J Butler, Upperchurch;