Craanford face bat­tle to stay up

New Ross Standard - - SPORT - DAVE DEV­EREUX


CROSS­ABEG-BAL­LY­MURN re­pelled a Craanford fight­back in Group B of The Court­yard Ferns In­ter­me­di­ate hurl­ing championship in In­no­vate Wex­ford Park on Sun­day, con­sign­ing the north county men to the daunt­ing prospect of a rel­e­ga­tion fi­nal.

When Craanford pared a six­point deficit down to one in four fruit­ful min­utes af­ter the half-time break they looked to have the bit be­tween their teeth, but Cross­abeg-Bal­ly­murn kept their cool and wrested back the ini­tia­tive to march into the knock­out stages on a high.

Last year’s beaten fi­nal­ists looked like they would cruise to a blood­less vic­tory when Barry Mur­phy plun­dered his sec­ond goal mid­way through the open­ing half to give his side an eight-point ad­van­tage (2-6 to 0-4).

His first ma­jor came with just three min­utes on the clock, when a Pádraig Fo­ley de­liv­ery into the dan­ger zone broke kindly into his path and he gath­ered pos­ses­sion and buried the ball be­yond An­drew Tighe.

The goal­keeper was re­triev­ing the ball from his net for a sec­ond time in the 16th minute and again it was Mur­phy with the fin­ish.

Oisín Fo­ley went on a men­ac­ing run down the left wing and when he hand­passed to the full-for­ward he gob­bled up the chance, fin­ish­ing with aplomb.

Pádraig Fo­ley landed a cou­ple of long-range placed balls, while Oisín Fo­ley, Eoghan Ke­hoe and Niall Mur­phy also kept the scoreboard tick­ing over for the Wex­ford District side.

Craanford were mostly re­liant on the free-tak­ing abil­i­ties of Ol­lie Doran, although James Smyth, Ger Lyons and Eoin Doyle did chip in with nice points to keep them just about in touch at half-time (2-10 to 0-10).

They really caught Cross­abeg-Bal­ly­murn cold on the re­sump­tion though, rat­tling the net just ten sec­onds af­ter the re-start. Ol­lie Doran burst for­ward with pur­pose from the throw-in and hand­passed to Matthew Nolan, who made no mis­take.

Nolan and Doran both split the posts to get Craanford back to within the min­i­mum, but that was as good as it got for them as Cross­abeg-Bal­ly­murn found an­other gear.

And when sub­sti­tute Sam Kelly raised the green flag in the 43rd minute, they were seven points to the good again.

The in­flu­en­tial Oisín Fo­ley was again in­volved, tee­ing up Kelly, who waltzed past a de­fender and buried the ball past Tighe to put them 3-14 to 1-13 ahead.

Craanford weren’t go­ing to go down with­out a fight though, and they went straight down the other end and scored a goal.

Jim Kenny picked out Matthew Nolan, and when the cap­tain’s ef­fort was saved by Mark Dempsey, James Smyth was quick­est to re­act to bat the ball over the goalline.

Cross­abeg-Bal­ly­murn put down the foot again to re­store their seven-point ad­van­tage and, although Craanford’s Niall Ber­ney blasted to the net af­ter a Matthew Nolan ef­fort had been blocked in the 58th minute, they never looked like be­ing able to bridge the gap any fur­ther.

Next up for Cross­abeg-Bal­ly­murn is a meet­ing with St. James’ in the last eight, while Craanford will take on Monageer-Boolavogue in a bat­tle to pre­serve their In­ter­me­di­ate sta­tus.

Cross­abeg-Bal­ly­murn: Mark Dempsey (capt.); Matthew Sludds, Bill Evis­ton, Alan Byrne; Conor Dev­ereux (0-1), Pádraig Fo­ley (0-4, 2 frees), Ro­nan Dev­ereux; Niall Mur­phy (0-8, 4 frees, 1 ‘65), De­clan Byrne; Shane O’Rourke, Eoghan Ke­hoe (02), Oisín Fo­ley (0-4); David Jack­man, Barry Mur­phy (2-0), Tony Mur­phy. Subs. - Sam Kelly (1-1) for Jack­man (29), Paddy Dev­ereux for Byrne (HT), Sea­mus Car­roll (0-1) for Sludds (50), Josh White­head for O’Rourke (60).

Craanford: An­drew Tighe; Joe Ber­ney, Pat Kenny, Michael Sin­nott; Wil­liam Con­roy, Michael Lyons, Eoin Doyle (0-1); Jim Kenny, Ol­lie Doran (0-8, 7 frees); James Smyth (1-2), Niall Ber­ney (1-0), Michael O’Lough­lin (0-2); Ger Lyons (0-1), Matthew Nolan (capt., 1-1), Des Ka­vanagh. Sub. - John Fleming for Lyons (44).

Ref­eree: Seán Whe­lan (St. Martin’s).

Eoin Doyle of Craanford races away from Sam Kelly.

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