Kings of the castle
Castle-Craan Gaels 3-14 HWH-Bunclody 0-8
Castle-Craan Gaels inflicted a first defeat of the season on HWH-Bunclody in Roinn 1A of the Wexford People Minor hurling championship at a windy Craanford on Wednesday.
The combination side, that gels the hosts with Liam Mellows, was simply too strong all over the field for their visitors, despite a struggle in the first quarter that saw them register just two points while playing with a gale.
Eventually their sextet of attackers started to make the most of the hard work of their midfield and half-back line and the scores flowed. However, the gold star has to go to the full-back line as they were imperious - all three starters and later substitute Killian Pierce.
They didn't give away a score, nor a free, and they didn't even give away a goal chance, it was simply a shutdown for 60 minutes. It's the type of form that suggests that championship favourites Rathnure won't have it all their own way in the knockout stages.
On the other hand, HWH-Bunclody kept going until the end but didn't have as many firing weapons as their opponents. Edward Dunbar was strong, their midfield did some good work, and wing-back John McCormack put in a serious shift, but there was no stopping the Gaels.
Still, there was a sniff of a chance for HWH-Bunclody as the hosts wasted chances in the first quarter. With 15 minutes up, Castle-Craan Gaels had just two Ross Cody points on the board, opposite the single Dunbar dead-ball.
The second quarter was another story entirely as points poured over. The pick of them was probably Eoin Doyle's bomb from midfield but the most important score was undoubtedly Stephen Greene's well-taken goal which came from a rebound after Ciarán Regan made a superb stop from Frank Kavanagh.
Leading by 1-10 to 0-3 at the break, Castle-Craan Gaels took nine second-half minutes to put the game to bed. Jim Kenny belted a long free into the full-forward line and Greene plucked it from knee-height, turned on goal and battered an unstoppable shot past Regan.
HWH-Bunclody had a mini-revival midway through the half. Dunbar brought his tally to seven and McCormack also got on the scoresheet as their side got as close as eleven behind.
However, a strong finish, that saw Eoin Doyle drill home a third goal for his side, ensured that the Gaels moved a step closer to a quarter-final spot.
Castle-Craan Gaels: Luke Byrne; Mike Fenlon, Jack Keogh, Chris Callanan; Eamonn Doran, Jim Kenny, Eoin Doyle (1-1); Rory Heffernan, Liam Coleman (0-1); Eoin Cullen (0-2 frees), Ross Cody (0-5), Danny Doyle; Stephen Greene (2-1), Frank Kavanagh (0-1), Darragh Brooks (0-2). Subs. - Mark Doyle (0-1) for Brooks (42), Ciarán Power for Greene (42), Killian Pierce for Callanan, inj. (45), Paddy Doyle for Kavanagh (48).
HWH-Bunclody: Ciarán Regan; Daniel Farrell, Adam Hogan, Michael Furlong; James Kavanagh, Stephen Kavanagh, John McCormack (0-1); Cathal Doyle, Peadair Cowman; Byron Byrne, Edward Dunbar (0-7, 5 frees), Tadhg O Ceallaigh; Cathal Dunbar, Jack Regan, Aidan Mahon. Subs. - Alan Carton for Byrne (50), also Lee Levingstone, Ciarán Kavanagh, Ryan McDonald.
Referee: Shane Quinn (Ballygarrett).