FEATURING eight of their triumphant U-21 championship winning side, St Rynagh’s gave youth its fling and they were rewarded as they overcame Kevin Martin’s Tullamore by 0-12 to 0-7 in a dour SHC opening round encounter at blustery and bitterly cold O’Connor Park on Sunday afternoon.
Aidan Bracken Building Design SHC
St Rynagh’s 0-12
Having faced the elements and coped well with the pressure St Rynagh’s exerted, Tullamore found themselves just 0-2 to 0-8 down at the interval and it certainly didn’t look to be an insurmountable task for them to salvage. However, their over reliance on Shane Dooley (he accounted for all but one of their scores) and a more cohesive Rynagh’s defensive performance meant the ‘Blues’ were swallowed up and they struggled badly.
The wind alone doesn’t ever win games and St Rynagh’s will be delighted with their second half display where they hit 0-4 to Tullamore’s 0-5. Rynagh’s could really have won this one far more comfortably but for some desperate shooting as they amassed 15 wides (seven more than Tullamore).
St Ryangh’s did lose Diarmuid Horan through injury late on and they’ll be hoping it isn’t anything too serious. The Rynagh’s half back trio of Conor Hernon, Fergus Shortt and simon Og Lyons shone, while Gary Kelly picked up from where he left off last year and contributed six important points from mid-field.
Tullamore, who lost to St Rynagh’s Og in the U-21 HC semi-final, used six U-21’s - Niall Houlihan, Nigel Bracken, Declan Hogan, Paddy Farrelly, Gareth Mann and Cormac Mann and they still have much to learn but they are going the right away about it and with Kevin Martin, ‘Gift’ Fox and Shane Dooley around the place the experience will stand to them.
St Rynagh’s had first use of the wind blowing towards the Park Avenue end and hit two of their eight first half wides per Ger Scales and Gary Kelly (free) before Shane Dooley accurately dispatched two Tullamore points at the opposite end, 0-2 to nil after 5 minutes.
The ‘Blues’, county champions in 2009, failed to score again for the remainder of the half but their tactic of utilising mid-fielder James Keane as an extra defender in around their full back line ensured that Scales, Diarmuid Horan and Stephen Quirke got little latitude in which to make an impact.
Kelly (free) and Quirke levelled proceedings by the 8th minute and St Rynagh’s, with five of their successful U-21’s in their starting line-up – Conor Clancy, Danny Maloney, Simon Og Lyons, Joey O’Connor & Quirke (they introduced three more Sean Kenny, Niall Wynne & Aidan Treacy) – went on to add six unanswered points by the interval, giving them a 0-8 to 0-2 lead.
Scales, Gary Conneely (two beautifully floated strikes from 60 metres), Kelly (2 frees) and centre back Fergus Shortt supplied the scores but more worryingly for Dinny Cahill’s side was that they fell into the trap of hitting a string of wides from distance with Conor Hernon (2), Kelly, Og Lyons, O’Connor & Conneely guilty of misfiring much to the relief of Tullamore’s vastly experienced ‘keeper Damian Fox who hadn’t a serious shot to deal with.
Quirke came within inches of nicking the game’s only goal three minutes into the concluding half and it was eight minutes old when Dooley pointed a free from inside his own ’65 for the wind assisted ‘Blues’.
St Rynagh’s, who were up to 14 wides by this stage, defended resiliently and went seven points ahead by the 51st minute, 0-10 to 0-3, after Kelly converted a free and a ’65 (after Fox saved to deny Scales).
Dooley replied with a converted ’65 and Kelly recorded Rynagh’s 15th wide from a 55th minute free. James Keane became only the ‘Blues’ second scorer before two more Dooley points saw the deficit reduced to three, 0-7 to 0-10, as the clash meandered into added time.
With Twitter and mobile phones keeping patrons abreast of the unfolding Premiership drama, St Rynagh’s closed out the contest with points in the 63rd & 64th minutes by Kelly and sub Stephen Clancy.
ST RYNAGH’S: Conor Clancy; Dermot Shortt, Stephen Wynne, Danny Maloney; Conor Hernon (capt.), Fergus Shortt (0-1), Simon Og Lyons; Gary Kelly (0-6, 0-4 frees & 0-1 ’65), Nigel White; Gary Conneely (0-2), Diarmuid Horan, Joey O’Connor; Stephen Quirke (0-1), Ciaran Flannery, Ger Scales (0-1). Subs.: Sean Kenny for S Quirke (43 mins), Stephen Clancy (0-1) for C Flannery (51 mins), Niall Wynne for D Horan inj (51 mins), Aidan Treacy for D Maloney (58 mins).
TULLAMORE: Damian Fox; Alan Martin, Stephen Egan, Anthony Heffernan; Niall Houlihan, Mark Conlon, Shane Kelly; Nigel Bracken, James Keane (0-1); Ger Treacy, Jody Duffy, Declan Hogan; Paddy Farrelly, Shane Dooley (0-6, 0-3 frees & 0-1 ’65), Gary Mannion. Subs.: Cormac Martin for J Duffy (37 mins), Gareth Mann for N Bracken (43 mins), Killian Bane for A Heffernan (51 mins),
REFEREE: Declan Cooke, Crinkill.