Craanford boost their prospects
A STIRRING second-half perormance from Craanford boosted their prospects of quarter-final qualification as they saw off Ballygarrett with five points to spare in this The Courtyard Ferns Intermediate hurling championship Group A game in Monamolin on Sunday.
Craanford had struggled to bring any cohesion to their game through the opening 30 minutes, which was surprising given the importance of the points on offer.
But whatever manager Neil O’Loughlin said to his charges during the half-time break, they were a transformed side on the resumption as they took the initiative with some quality play and scoring.
This was a victory they achieved with 13 players as they had two men dismissed through the second-half.
For Ballygarrett, top of the table beforehand, the game always proved a struggle, so much so that they were unable to utilise their numerical advantage.
Their attack failed to fire, while the defence could not cope with the quality second-half finishing of their opponents.
The opening 30 minutes developed into a shoot-out between Ollie Doran and Jack Hobbs, although Ballygarrett midfielder Eoin Corcorcan did chip in with three fine long-range points. These were the main talking points of an erratic opening half as Craanford led by 0-8 to 0-7 at the interval.
The opening five minutes on the resumption saw Craanford assume control.
Ollie Doran and Kevin Poole shot over quick-fire points, before Matthew Nolan goaled in the 35th minute to give his side a 1-11 to 0-7 lead.
Ballygarrett had to wait until the 38th minute for their opening second-half score, a Jack Hobbs pointed free, while two minutes later Craanford wing-back Niall Berney was sent-off on a yellow card followed by red for a high tackle, leaving Hobbs to point the resulting free.
But the Craanford response was swift, with Nolan firing over a fine long-range point followed by efforts from Ger Lyons and Nolan once again, helping his side stretch into a 1-14 to 0-9 lead.
While Ballygarrett tried desperately to get themselves back into the game, they had allowed the early initiative to slip away as they were unable to find a way back, even when their opponents were reduced to 13 players when Peter Kavanagh saw red for a reckless challenge.
A fascinating last round is now in store in this group, with only two points dividing top from bottom at the moment, and four of the six teams locked on four points.
It means that all teams have plenty to still play for.
Craanford: Derek Finn; Michael O’Loughlin, Pat Kenny, Joe Berney; Niall Berney, Patrick Murray, Michael Lyons; James O’Loughlin, William Conroy; Ger Lyons (0-2), Peter Kavanagh, Ollie Doran (0-5); Kevin Poole (0-6, 4 frees), Matthew Nolan (1-2), James Smyth. Subs. - Jamesie Nolan for Smyth, Tony Kavanagh (0-2) for J. Berney.
Ballygarrett: Shane Quinn; Eddie Redmond, John Doyle, Aidan Murphy; Darren Morris, Stephen Redmond (0-1 free), Tom Sinnott; Eoin Corcoran (0-4), Colm Kennelly; Cathal Dunbar, Seamus Doyle, Kevin Jordan; Jimmy Murphy, Colm Cosgrave, Jack Hobbs (1-7, 0-7 frees). Subs. - Patrick Fleming for Cosgrave, Harry Byrne for S. Doyle.
Referee: Mick Lanigan (Shelmaliers).