Craanford tested by 13-man Blackwater
Craanford achieved their first win in The Courtyard Ferns Intermediate hurling championship Group B on Thursday as they barely saw off Blackwater in Monageer by two points.
Craanford 1-15 Blackwater 1-13
Craanford found themselves with a two-man and two-point advantage at full-time on this sweltering hot evening.
Quick off the mark, Michael Lillis' threatening shot into Craanford's back line was converted to a goal for Blackwater after Paul Murphy found the back of the net before Lillis began his tally of points.
A powerful reply followed from Stephen Kavanagh and Matt Nolan, with Oliver Doran playing the ideal anchoring role.
Blackwater were soon to see themselves reduced to 13 men in the opening 15 minutes though after Anthony Roche and Kevin Purcell both saw red.
Kavanagh and Nolan proved to be Craanford's main two on-form shooters for the first quarter. They consistently delivered with skilful points before Oliver Doran claimed one of the best scores of the match.
The always-reliable duo of John Fleming and Kevin Poole also floated sliothars over the bar before the half-time whistle blew.
Dean Wright and Michael Lillis were heroic for Blackwater, helping to bring the difference to two points. Lillis was steady with all dead balls and Wright was deadly accurate when attempting to score.
The second-half proved thrilling for spectators. Although Craanford were two men ahead of Blackwater, the coastal village often made it seem that they had the upper hand.
Seánie Purcell and Wayne O'Connor edged their men in the right direction but alas for their squad, Stephen Kavanagh and Kevin Poole were quick to cancel out their efforts.
A great decision by the management of Craanford was to put Patrick Murray into the forward line. The usual centre-back dominated the Blackwater defence and guided Craanford a step ahead.
Michael O'Loughlin also acted as a leader for his blue and white comrades, following the pursuit of Kevin Poole and Murray in claiming his spot on the scoresheet.
O'Connor, Lillis and Wright nearly claimed a win for Blackwater but with a 21-metre free being saved by the influential Stevie Greene, their efforts well short. Niall Berney kept the Craanford back line steady and Kevin Poole confirmed the victory by making the most of a final dead ball.
Craanford: Derek Finn; Mick O'Loughlin (0-1), Stevie Greene, Tony Kavanagh; Niall Berney, Pat Murray (0-3), Michael Lyons; Oliver Doran (0-1), William Conroy; Des Kavanagh, Shane Kavanagh (0-4), Peter Kavanagh; Kevin Poole (0-5, 3 frees), Matt Nolan (1-0), John Fleming (0-1). Subs. - James Smyth for D. Kavanagh, James Byrne for Fleming.
Blackwater: Peter O'Brien; Anthony Roche, Lar Lacey (capt.), Kevin Purcell; Dean Whelan, Diarmuid Murphy, Seán Cash; Denis Carroll, Michael Lillis (0-6, 3 frees); Seánie Purcell (0-1), Dean Wright (0-3, 2 frees), Wayne O'Connor (0-3); Paul Murphy (1-0), James Dooley, Shane O'Leary. Subs. - Brian Dooley for O'Leary, O'Leary for J. Dooley.
Referee: Brendan Martin (Ballyhogue).