O’Keeffe puts on fine show
Anne’s power past Bunclody
WHILE ST. Anne’s had nine points to spare at the finish, it was the ruthless scoring power of Diarmuid O’Keeffe that really separated the sides as they demolished the HWH-Bunclody challenge in The Courtyard Ferns Intermediate hurling championship semi-final in Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday.
O’Keeffe was in blistering form as he demolished the opposing defence, with his two goals coming inside the opening quarter which made the HWH-Bunclody task even harder, as it helped his side to an eventual 15-point lead and a place in the final.
They played quality hurling, looking like a side clearly intent on returning to the top flight at the first time of asking having been relegated last year, and they will now take some stopping.
HWH-Bunclody to their credit turned in a battling second 30 minutes but they had left themselves with an insurmountable task. When they reflect on their opening half they will wonder how they were unable to gain any type of momentum as they were totally static, beaten to the ball on every occasion, while their full-back line was unable to hold out against the power of the winners’ attack.
Their second-half brought a huge improvement but really it was just damage limitation despite their best efforts.
Diarmuid O’Keeffe signalled his intentions as early as the second minute. Collecting a ball to the left of goal, he rounded two defenders before beating Arthur O’Neill between the posts.
With Billy Kelly (free) and Mark Furlong exchanging points, St. Anne’s struck for the best score of the game after just six minutes.
Veteran David O’Connor picked out Liam Rochford with a delightful crossfield ball, and the corner-forward showed a neat first touch, gathering at speed before planting an unstoppable shot to the righthand corner of the net, giving his side a 2-1 to 0-1 lead.
The momentum was with St. Anne’s and they continued to press forward, adding points through O’Keeffe, Jonathan Fogarty and Mark Furlong, before a Furlong cross picked out O’Keeffe who crashed home a tremendous goal from 14 metres, leaving his side sitting comfortable and leading by 3-4 to 0-1 at the end of the opening quarter.
Eoin Kelly and Billy Kelly managed to respond with points, but with Mark Furlong finishing the half with three unanswered pointed frees, it was St. Anne’s who led by 3-10 to 0-4 at the interval.
After Jason Cowman and Mark Furlong (free) opened the second half with points, Bunclody were now providing most of the attacking play, resulting in an excellent 44th-minute Colm Farrell goal, after he had moved from defence to an attacking position.
They continued to press forward and three minutes later gave themselves brief hope when Peter Atkinson knocked a loose ball to the net after Redmond Barry had parried a Farrell goal attempt, reducing the deficit to seven points (3-13 to 2-9).
St. Anne’s would not be in the habit of leting a big lead slip, and they responded to the challenge with a series of points from Furlong and Seamus Mythen to secure their final spot against Crossabeg-Ballymurn of Monageer-Boolavogue as the Bunclody challenge evaporated in the closing stages.
St. Anne’s: Redmond Barry; Finn O’Driscoll, Tomás Cullen, Páraic O’Keeffe; Kenny Cloney, Aidan Rochford, Kevin Hannigan; Mark Furlong (0-9, 6 frees), Seamus Mythen (0-1); Jonathan Fogarty (0-1), Diarmuid O’Keeffe (2-5), Jess Codd; Mikey Fogarty, David O’Connor (0-1), Liam Rochford (1-0). Subs. - Brian Kavanagh for M. Fogarty, Philip Rawson for O’Connor, Francis Simpson for Codd.
HWH-Bunclody: Arthur O’Neill; Martin O’Connor, Colm Farrell (1-0), David Reck; Conor Crean, Seán Kenny, Enda Slevin (0-2); Billy Kelly (0-4 frees), Aidan Nolan; Edward Dunbar, Eoin Kelly (0-2), Peter Atkinson (1-1); Podge Kehoe (0-1), Ronan Roberts, Jason Cowman (0-1). Subs. - James Moorhead for Roberts, Cathal Doyle for Cowman, Niall Kelly for Dunbar, Conor Hendrick for Reck.
Referee: Pat Kehoe (Rathgarogue-Cushinstown).
Mark Furlong and Jonathan Fogarty of St. Anne’s give chase to HWH-Bunclody’s Aidan Nolan.