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 Kilruane MacDonaghs 1-18 Nenagh Eire Óg 0-16

Tuesday July 28th Puckane

The U-21 hurlers had a comfortable if not overly impressive five point victory against Nenagh in Puckane. This win secured a semi-final spot for the fifth successive year. MacDonaghs lined out without the services of Mikey Costello and Ger Corcoran who were in America and Kevin Ryan who is still recovering from injury. Paddy Murphy, who sustained an ankle injury in the senior semi-final against Borris-Ileigh, was an absentee for Nenagh. After a day of intermittent rain the evening cleared and the Puckane pitch was in good condition despite the recent inclement weather. Captain Gavin McAvinchey won the toss and decided to play with the slight breeze.

The game had a tentative opening and it rarely reached the intensity that you normally associate with games between these two rivals. Nenagh opened the scoring with a point from a free by Billy Heffernan. Shane Quinlan got MacDonaghs off the mark with a point. Mikey Heffernan who was operating at centre forward hit two points, one from play and one from a placed ball. Justin Cahill narrowed the gap with a point after a clever pass from Buggy O Meara. MacDonaghs were guilty of careless fouling and Billy Heffernan punished the latest indiscretion with another white flag. Kilruane began to up the tempo and Eoin Hogan drove forward from midfield to strike a sweet point and Declan Barrrett placed Shane Quinlan for his second point to put MacDonaghs into the lead for the first time. Kilruane were unlucky not to have two goals on the board at this stage. Shane Quinlan rounded Shane Maher on the right but unfortunately his kicked shot went into the side netting and man of the match Niall O Meara couldn’t control the ball with the goal at his mercy. Seamus Hennessy hit a massive 100m free to put the sides level 0-5 each after a quarter of an hour and added his second white flag from a 65 to edge Kilruane ahead once again. Nenagh levelled again with a point before Buggy O Meara pointed a free and Declan Barrett put two between the sides after a pass from Buggy. Kilruane were beginning to motor now and Shane Quinlan hit a delightful point from the left wing and James Williams chipped in with a point to leave MacDonaghs four ahead. Nenagh got their seventh point to leave three between the sides before Shane Quinlan struck a decisive blow in the twenty fifth minute. He deftly flicked a long range Seamus Hennessy free past Billy Bolger in the Nenagh goals. Eoin Hogan followed with his second point before Nenagh registered the final point of the half to leave the scoreboard reading 1-11 to 0-8 on favour of MacDonaghs.
On the resumption Nenagh introduced David Cleary at full forward and his bulk was to cause anxiety in the MacDonaghs defence. Brian Maxwell was switched to full back in an attempt to curb the rampant Shane Quinlan. Just before the interval MacDonaghs had introduced Thomas Cleary for Jonathan Cahill. Kilruane began the second half in impressive fashion. Niall O Meara played in a delightful ball and Shane Quinlan struck a brilliant point off his left side. A Mikey Heffernan point immediately cancelled this out when he availed of a slip by a Kilruane player in the middle of the field. Another Nenagh point reduced the margin to five. In the first half Kilruane had been guilty of indiscipline and now it was the turn of Nenagh to indulge in fouling and they were punished by three successive points from frees by Justin Cahill. MacDonaghs now had an eight point cushion but instead of driving on ceded the initiative to Nenagh. Uncertainty in the MacDonaghs defence, which had been prevalent all the evening, led to a foul on David Cleary in the large square. Luckily for MacDonaghs, Shane Maher blasted the resultant penalty over the bar. In an attempt to strengthen the defence Justin Cahill was pulled back to play the role of sweeper. Though the motive behind the move was laudable it proved counter productive. The extra man in the Nenagh defence began to hoover up ball while at the Kilruane end everybody’s business became nobody’s business. Two further points by Nenagh cut the lead to five before a Seamus Hennessy point extended it to six once again. Brian O Meara notched his second point and Nenagh replied with two white flags. Seamus Hennessy had the final score of the game from a 65 to leave the final score 1-18 to 0-16 n favour of MacDonaghs.

Players and management will be pleased to have overcome this formidable obstacle but know that there is plenty of room for improvement in both individual player preparation and the tactics employed during the game. The semi-final will probably take place in September and by this time there will be increased competition for places with the selectors having to make some big calls. Mikey Costello will have returned from The States and hopefully he will be deployed his best position of corner forward and the failed experiment of playing him at midfield will be abandoned. Kevin Ryan has resumed light training and his return at midfield would be big boost and would allow Justin to move back to the defence. Traditionally Kilruane MacDonaghs don’t play well in the earlier rounds of the championship but unless there is massive improvement regaining the title will prove elusive.
Scorers: Shane Quinlan 1-4, Justin Cahill 0-4, Seamus Hennessy 0-4, Brian O Meara 0-2, Eoin Hogan 0-2, James Williams 0-1 and Declan Barrett 0-1
Team: David Reddan, Freddie Williams, Gavin McAvinchey, Pádraig Kelly, William Cleary, Seamus Hennesy, Liam Gibson, Justin Cahill, Eoin Hogan, Niall O Meara, Jonathan Cahill, James Williams, Declan Barrett, Shane Quinlan and Brian O Meara. Sub: Thomas Cleary.

Man of the Match: Niall O Meara

Referee: Tommy Ryan Kildangan