The first aspect to take into consideration following Killenaule’s five-point win over Kilruane at Templetuohy on Saturday evening is the quality of the MacDonagh’s team. Liam O’Shea’s men are one of the best sides on the club hurling scene in Tipperary, but Declan Ryan’s Killenaule put them away comprehensively. Indeed, you would now have to mark Killenaule down as a challenger to Thurles Sarsfields based on this performance.
Tipperary Water County Senior Hurling Championship
Killenaule 2-24 Kilruane MacDonagh’s 3-16
Kilruane struggled to cope as Killenaule notched 2-19 from play. The Killenaule defence was led admirably by Joe O’Dwyer at centre-back and while John O’Dwyer (0-10) and Kieran Bergin (1-7) were in terrific form please note that Paudie Feehan and Tom Stakelum performed key ball-winning roles up front. Indeed, such was the effect that Tom Stakelum had on this contest he very nearly usurped Kieran Bergin for the man of the match award.
The MacDonagh’s certainly tried to fight their way back into this one when playing with the wind in the second half, but Killenaule always threatened and enjoyed several notable opportunities to add significantly to their tally: Kieran Bergin kicked one goal chance wide and two Tom Stakelum efforts were brilliantly saved by Thomas Williams while the Kilruane ‘keeper also performed acrobatics to deny Eoin Barry on the double from close range in the second half.
Killenaule started with a strong wing at their backs, but cleverly withdrew their half-forward line far outfield leaving acres of room in front of Tom Stakelum, Paudie Feehan and Kieran Bergin in the full-forward line.
Kilruane took the lead through Jerome Cahill, but Killenaule led 1-4 to 0-3 after a whirlwind six minutes which featured a terrific Kieran Bergin goal in the second minute.
It appeared as if Kilruane had steadied themselves nicely when trailing by only four points (0-5 to 1-6) with sixteen minutes played. Indeed, Killenaule ‘keeper Mathew O’Donnell had also made a telling save to deny Cian Darcy a goal in the 15th minute.
But then Killenaule struck for their second three-pointer in the 19th minute when Paudie Feehan pounced on Thomas Williams, dispossessed the misfortunate custodian and plundered a goal. Kieran Bergin added a point from play soon after and Killenaule led 2-7 to 0-6.
Niall O’Meara responded with a Kilruane goal in the 25th minute and following a flurry of late scores (and goalmouth activity) the MacDonagh’s trailed by a very manageable six at the break (1-7 to 2-10).
Killenaule, with Kieran Bergin’s tally now reaching 1-6 from play, opened an eight-point gap by the 38th minute (2-14 to 1-9).
Again the compact structure of the Killenaule team was making life difficult for Kilruane who struggled to win possession in the opposition half of the field.
Entering the final twenty minutes, however, Kilruane appeared to have conjured a potential game-changing score when Thomas Cleary cracked home a superb goal which reduced the deficit to five points (2-11 to 2-16) in the 43rd minute.
Thanks in no small part to three excellent long-range Cian Darcy frees Kilruane had the gap down to three with nine minutes to play (2-15 to 2-18).
Now, this was a big test for Killenaule: playing into the wind and against a quality side questions were being asked of the South champions. And, they responded to the challenge in terrific style when belting over four points without reply in an impressive four-minute spell - Pat Kerwick, Kieran Bergin and Eoin Barry (two) were responsible for these rousing efforts.
Kilruane did score an eye-catching goal on the hour mark when Cian Darcy flicked a close-range free into the hand of Justin Cahill who buried his shot against a wrong-footed defence, but, in truth, Killenaule were the big story here. Declan Ryan’s men are due the utmost respect.
Killenaule: Mathew O’Donnell, Stephen Browne, Paddy Codd, Killian O’Dwyer, Jimmy Feehan, Joe O’Dwyer, Eoin O’Connell, Thomas Keaveney, Michael Doyle (0-1), Dean O’Connor (0-1), John O’Dwyer (0-10, 0-3 frees, 0-2 ‘65s), Eoin Barry (0-3), Paudie Feehan (1-1), Kieran Bergin (1-7), Tom Stakelum (0-1). Subs: (51st) Pat Kerwick (0-1) for Dean O’Connor.
Kilruane MacDonagh’s: Thomas Williams, Stephen Cleary, Séamus Hennessy, James Cleary (0-1), Ray McLoughney, Darragh Peters, Eoin Hogan, Justin Cahill (1-0), Niall O’Meara (1-1), Craig Morgan, Conor Cleary, Jerome Cahill (0-2), Cian Darcy (0-9, 0-6 frees, 0-1 ‘65), Thomas Cleary (1-1), Eoin Williams (0-1). Subs: (36th) Kieran Cahill (0-1) for Séamus Hennessy, (49th) Declan Barrett for Eoin Williams, (52nd) Tomás Hogan for Conor Cleary.
Referee: Kevin Jordan (Thurles Gaels).
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