Crossabeg secure final spot at the first attempt
There's no sign of the Crossabeg-Ballymurn express train slowing down any time soon. The club's remarkable modern-day record continued apace at Monamolin on Saturday when they comfortably brushed HWH-Bunclody aside to qualify for the final of The Courtyard Ferns Intermediate hurling championship at the first time of asking.
C'Beg-B'murn 2-19 Hwh-Bunclody 1-13
And with their footballers also through to the Intermediate 'A' decider, the green and white flags will continue to fly proudly over the coming weeks. In years to come, club stalwarts will look back on this period with affection as these very talented players have struck such a rich vein of form.
This championship is regarded as one of the toughest of all to win, so to reach the final just twelve months after sampling Intermediate 'A' glory is a commendable feat. Not alone that, but it was done with such style and pace that the outcome was in the bag long before the end.
It's only three years since Crossabeg-Ballymurn claimed the Junior hurling title, and now they're a mere 60 minutes away from returning to Senior ranks for the first time since 2000.
HWH-Bunclody's cause wasn't helped by the loss of defenders Darren Kehoe and Conor Crean through injury, while county Senior Aidan Nolan was a passenger at full-forward in the first-half before his enforced withdrawal at half-time. The shoulder injury he sustained in the football defeat at the same stage to Bannow-Ballymitty seven days earlier robbed the team of its driving force, and they were in serious bother by the break when they trailed by 1-10 to 0-5.
Crossabeg-Ballymurn were full of pace, skill and clever movement up front, and they led by 1-8 to 0-3 before striking the first of just two opening half wides in the 21st minute (seven in total). They had an impressive array of scorers too, although their third-minute goal was fortuitous as Pádraig Foley's handpass to team captain Barry Murphy spun up wickedly off the latter's hurl and over the head of a hapless Art O'Neill to the net.
Free-taker Niall Murphy, Eoin McDonald (two), Seamus Carroll, Barry Murphy (from another goal chance), Sam Kelly (two) and Conor Devereux all picked off points, whereas HWH-Bunclody were restricted to pointed placed balls from Billy Kelly (two) and Seán Kenny.
And it didn't look much better for the Enniscorthy District side at the interval when they still trailed heavily by 1-10 to 0-5, after points from Niall Murphy (free) and wing-back Alan Byrne were cancelled out by Jason Cowman, with the losers' first from play, and Billy Kelly (free). Niall Kelly also fired a late effort across the face of the goal and wide when a major was badly needed.
Niall Murphy went on to have a field day from open play in the second-half, picking off 1-4 as he availed of the space created around him by a very mobile forward unit and also forcing Art O'Neill into one good save. He only needed seven seconds to trouble the scoreboard operator, and HWH-Bunclody didn't help their cause by firing two scoreable frees wide (they had ten in all).
They threw caution to the wind as four substitutes were introduced in the third quarter, and they did manage to narrow the gap to five points on two occasions.
However, Crossabeg-Ballymurn underlined their clear superiority when a Sam Kelly point was followed in the 52nd minute by Niall Murphy's well-taken goal after excellent work by his brother, Barry, and Seamus Carroll (2-15 to 0-12).
Another four points were added for good measure by Barry Murphy, Oisín Foley, Eoin McDonald and David Jackman before veteran substitute Mark Murphy managed 1-1 in consolation scores for the outclassed losers.
Crossabeg-Ballymurn: Mark Dempsey; Martin Redmond, Billy Roche, Matty Sludds; Alan Byrne (0-1), Bill Eviston, Paddy Devereux; Pádraig Foley, Conor Devereux (0-1); Oisín Foley (0-1), Sam Kelly (0-3), Eoin McDonald (0-3); Seamus Carroll (0-1), Niall Murphy (1-6, 0-2 frees), Barry Murphy (capt., 1-2). Subs. - Cormac O'Rourke for Redmond (55), David Jackman (0-1) for Kelly, inj. (57), Andy Butler for Carroll (60), Liam Kehoe for O. Foley (60+1), Paul Larrissy for Sludds (60+1).
HWH-Bunclody: Art O'Neill; Enda Slevin, Barry Kehoe, Thos. O'Neill; James Moorhead, Seán Kenny (0-2 frees), Conor Kinsella (0-1); Colm Farrell (capt.), Billy Kelly (0-7, 6 frees); John Paul Connors, Niall Kelly, Jason Cowman (0-1); Podge Kehoe, Aidan Nolan, Eoin Kelly (0-1). Subs. - Bryan O'Hara for Nolan, inj. (HT), Kevin Dunne for N. Kelly (34), Conor Hendrick for Slevin (35), Mark Murphy (1-1) for Connors (37), John Dunne for P. Kehoe (45).
Referee: James Flood (St. Mary's, Maudlintown).