BROSNA Gaels took a giant step towards preserving their senior status for 2013 after they claimed the scalp of Ollie Bryant’s Shamrocks in the curtain-raiser at windswept O’Connor Park, Tullamore on Sunday afternoon.
Brosna Gaels 2-13
With the two other Group 1 fixtures finishing in deadlock, Gaels find them-selves on top of the table and with reigning county champions Coolderry, K/K, Seir Kieran and Kinnitty also in this side of the draw, it is already difficult to see where Shamrocks may pilfer the points that will pluck them clear of the relegation battle.
The returned from injury Derek Molloy scored Shamrocks goal in the fifth minute but that was the high point for them as since his side was hurling into the teeth of the breeze Molloy found him-self hurling exceptionally deep for the remainder of the half and Shanrocks were subjected to incessant pressure.
Brosna Gaels, with the industrious Alan Lynam and Thomas Spain controlling the mid-field and cleverly distributing deliveries inside to Jason Devery, Fergal Daly and Richard Fox, were patient and picked off some brilliant long range scores - something Shamrocks failed to equal. And goals by Chris McDonald (from a stunning free) and Fox gave the Gaels a 2-9 to 1-0 interval lead.
Shamrocks, with Neville Coughlan returned at centre back, battled gallantly however scores by Kevin Cummins, Brian Kearney and the Molloys weren’t sufficient to knock a determined Gaels off their stride. And on the evidence of this performance the Gaels are more than capable of mixing it with their remaining Group 1 opponents. And they could have had more to spare in this one as they ended with 13 wides to Shamrocks 6.
Despite hurling into the stiff wind towards the Arden Road end it was Shamrocks, who avoided relegation in 2011 by defeating Lusmagh in a play-off, who went ahead in the 5th minute. Derek Molloy was pulled back by Gaels full back Danny Kelleher and he drilled the resulting 21m free low and hard to the onion bag.
It proved to be Shamrocks only score of the opening half as Gaels set about making optimum use of the howling gale and Ciaran McDonald’s charges, the 2011 intermediate champions, recorded 2-9 without response.
Fergal Daly (free), Chris McDonald and Jason Devery hoisted over points to draw the sides level, 0-3 to 1-0 after 12 minutes.
Three minutes later All-Ireland Final reiteoir Brian Gavin penalised under pressure Shamrocks defender Karl Mollen and half back Chris McDonald came up-field and sent a thumping 21m free to the twine.
Alan Lynam, Thomas Spain and Devery (2) added further points before Richard Fox slammed home goal number two in the 25th minute despite the best efforts of Shamrocks keeper Alan O’Connell, 2-7 to 1-0.
Spain and Devery added points for the rampant Gaels who were full value for their twelve-point half time lead but they really should have been significantly further ahead as they recorded 11 wides, being guilty of some reckless on-sight shooting.
Ollie Bryant’s wind aided Shamrocks recorded the opening four points of the concluding half per Kevin Cummins (2), Brian Kearney & Derek Molloy, 1-4 to 2-9 after 39 minutes.
But once Des Egan replied with a fine Gaels point a minute later it was evident his side weren’t going to buckle and they made far better use of possession and were more controlled and measured in their approach to playing into the elements.
Kearney and Daly traded successful frees before two Shane Molloy points left Shamrocks seven adrift, 1-7 to 2-11, with 12 minutes of normal time remaining.
Two brilliantly executed points by 2009 Intermediate Hurler of the Year Fergal Daly steadied Gaels and while Neville Coughlan and Kearney added late Shamrocks points they were merely consolation scores.
BROSNA GAELS: John Egan; Karl Daly, Danny Kelleher, Trevor Phelan (capt.); Lee Colgan, Alec Mooney, Chris McDonald (1-1, 1-0 free); Alan Lynam (0-1), Thomas Spain (0-2); Richard Fox (1-0), Eamon McCabe, Jason Devery (0-4); Barry Buckley, Des Egan (0-1), Fergal Daly (0-4, 0-2 frees).
SHAMROCKS: Alan O’Connell; Karl Mollen, Jimmy Conway, Keith Dunne; Adrian Minnock, Neville Coughlan (0-1), Ciaran Buckley; Darragh Minnock, Daniel Heffernan; Brian Kearney (0-3, 0-1 free), Declan Conroy (capt.), Paddy Kelly; Kevin Cummins (0-2), Shane Molloy (0-2, 0-1 free), Derek Molloy (1-1, 1-0 free). Subs.: Alan Foster for P Kelly (44 mins), Barry Kelly for D Heffernan (51 mins).
REFEREE: Brian Gavin, Clara