Crossabeg keen to go step further
Crossabeg-Ballymurn stepped up their bid to go one better than last year as they dismissed the Craanford challenge with considerable ease in Group B of The Courtyard Ferns Intermediate hurling championship in Bree on Saturday.
Crossabeg-Ballymurn 3-15 Craanford 0-7
Last season's beaten finalists deployed a two-man inside forward line, with county star Pádraig Foley utilised in a roving role, and the extra space allowed their pacey and skilful attackers to really make hay as the sun struggled manfully to break through the evening clouds.
The first-half was the Murphy show, as brothers Barry and Niall fired Crossabeg-Ballymurn to a 1-5 to 0-3 interval lead, with the former contributing 1-3 and the latter adding two classy points.
The goal came in the seventh minute when, from a free 30 metres out wide on the right, Barry Murphy's shot deceived goalkeeper Derek Finn and squeezed just inside the post.
Craanford found it difficult to get any real foothold in the game, although Ollie Doran and Shane Kavanagh (free) did find the range, and they ended the half on a high thanks to a super long-range score from Patrick Murray.
The north county side actually began the second-half quite brightly with Ollie Doran, Kevin Poole and Matthew Nolan pointing in response to efforts from Niall Murphy, Tony Murphy and Barry Murphy (free) to keep themselves in touch.
However, when Niall Murphy collected a Tony Murphy pass and calmly hit the back of the net in the 40th minute, it completely took the wind out of their sails.
Niall Murphy added a superb sideline cut from near the 45-metre line soon afterwards, and after Tony Murphy got his stick on a Barry Murphy free to steer it to the net it was just shooting practice for the Wexford District side.
More searching tests certainly lie ahead for Crossabeg-Ballymurn, but they have a nice blend of power and skill that marks them out as one of the teams to beat.
Crossabeg-Ballymurn: Mark Dempsey; David Kehoe, Billy Roche, Matthew Sludds; Conor Devereux, Bill Eviston, Ronan Devereux; Barry Murphy (1-5, 1-3 frees), Seamus Carroll; Oisín Foley (0-1), Sam Kelly (0-1), Shane O'Rourke; Niall Murphy (1-4, 0-1 line ball), Tony Murphy (1-1), Pádraig Foley (0-1 free). Subs. - Alan Byrne for C. Devereux, Eoin McDonald (0-1) for O'Rourke, David Jackman (0-1) for A. Murphy, Cormac O'Rourke for Sludds, David Murphy for Eviston.
Craanford: Derek Finn; Pat Kenny, Stevie Greene, Michael O'Loughlin; Joe Berney, Patrick Murray (0-1), Niall Berney; Michael Lyons, Ollie Doran (0-2); John Fleming, James Byrne, Shane Kavanagh (0-2 frees); Kevin Poole (0-1 free), Matthew Nolan (0-1), Tony Kavanagh. Sub. - Des Kavanagh for Byrne.
Referee: Pat Kehoe (Rathgarogue-Cushinstown).