Derby delight for Ballymurn
Crossabeg-Ballymurn 2-14 Blackwater 2-8
If the Intermediate hurlers of Blackwater were property developers, they might find it hard to stay in business as their display at breezy Hollymount on Saturday illustrated.
In attempting to construct a victory against Crossabeg-Ballymurn in this Courtyard Ferns Group B opener, they made a great job of laying the foundations but then failed dismally to build on their grittily positive start.
With a brisk wind whistling in from the north-east, the elements were always likely to have a significant influence on the hurling - and so it proved.
Pre-match favourites Crossabeg-Ballymurn had first use of the wind and their opponents set about ensuring they did not sail into a match-winning lead with its assistance.
The likes of Ennae Carroll and (until removed from the fray with injury) Lar Leacy showed themselves to be durable and effective defenders in the face of constant probing.
Crossabeg-Ballymurn clearly threatened but were unable to establish a steady source of scores though centre half Pádraig Foley - due to depart soon for the United States - picked off three of the measly seven points they registered up to the break.
Blackwater's damage limitation strategy appeared to be paying dividends when full-forward Paul O'Leary made a good catch under Michael Lillis's delivery and found the net behind Mark Dempsey.
The goal left the sides tied (0-7 to 1-4) at the interval, leaving supporters of the underdogs with every reason to be optimistic that they could forge a win from the fixture.
However, instead of being blown on to victory by the wind, they were blown away by Crossabeg-Ballymurn's greater craft and ability to steal scores - whatever the weather.
By the time Mossy O'Brien collected Blackwater's first point of the half on 50 minutes, their opponents had already pulled away surely out of reach by adding 2-4 to their tally.
The goals came from substitute Ronan Devereux just seconds after he was introduced to the fray, and from Tony Murphy stroking home coolly on the rebound after David Jackman crashed the ball against the bar.
With Oisín Foley posting a steady drip of frees for Crossabeg-Ballymurn, they were well into the driving seat long before the end of play, and O'Leary's second goal was no more than a small measure of consolation for the losers who entered the fray as underdogs.
Just returned from Australia, the number 14 looked a very useful striker and the club faithful were left ruing the fact that he was given scant supply of the ball in the second-half.
Meanwhile, the winners - already shorn of several regulars - were glad of the points as they face the prospect of losing the excellent Foley and Bill Eviston to emigration before the end of the campaign.
Crossabeg-Ballymurn: Mark Dempsey; Paul Roche, Billy Roche, Matthew Sludds; Paddy Devereux (0-1), Pádraig Foley (0-3, 1 '65), Alan Byrne; Conor Devereux (0-2), Bill Eviston; Shane O'Rourke, Tony Murphy (1-2), Oisín Foley (0-5 frees); Sam Kelly, Eoin McDonald (0-1), David Jackman. Subs. - Ronan Devereux (1-0) for O'Rourke (35), David Kehoe for Byrne (52), Conor Shovlin for Sludds (54), Luke Redmond for Jackman (57).
Blackwater: Robert O'Leary; Ennae Carroll, Lar Leacy, Brian Dooley; Richard Blake, Darren Byrne, Kevin O'Brien; Denis Carroll, Michael Lillis (0-2, 1 free); Dean Wright (0-3 frees), James Dooley (0-2), Diarmuid Murphy; Dean Whelan, Paul O'Leary (2-0), Seánie Purcell. Subs. - Mossy O'Brien (0-1) for Leacy (30), Shane O'Leary for Purcell (40), Denis O'Brien for Wright (40).
Referee: Shane Quinn (Ballygarrett).