Rathnure have it easy
The horrendously lopsided scoreline is not a typographical error. Rathnure did indeed defeat neighbours Cloughbawn by 34 points in the Enniscorthy District Under-21 hurling Roinn 1 championship final at St. Patrick's Park on Tuesday.
Rathnure 8-16 Cloughbawn 0-6
The fact is that the margin in this non-contest could have been even greater as goalkeeper Seán Keating was head and shoulders the best player for the losers. Without his bravery and reflexes the damage would have been a great deal worse.
The signs were there before the game, which was played on a fine, windless evening. The eventual winners were in the field half an hour before throw-in undergoing a rigorous warm-up.
Meanwhile, their opponents remained in the changing rooms until the last moment, mentors desperately attempting to make contact with missing players before confirming their 15, with just two substitutes. Such are the perils of midweek hurling.
The good news for their supporters was all concentrated into the first five minutes of play, when Keating made the first of a long series of saves - this one from Jason Lawlor.
Then points from Lee Keating and Bob Whitty gave them a brief glimpse of the lead.
That was as good as it got for Cloughbawn, who were finding Ciarán O'Connor a tormenting handful, strong and tricky and well capable of catching balls launched from midfield by Michael Redmond and Podge Doyle into the full-forward line.
This simple tactic was the foundation from which five goals flowed in the space of just 15 minutes of first-half carnage, with Seán Keating's full-length dive to bat out O'Connor's effort from the penalty line preventing a sixth. In front of the agile goalie, his defence unravelled like a ball of wool in the claws of a playful kitten.
Aodhán Foley claimed the first goal, then O'Connor put away two either side of failing to convert the penalty, before Jason Lawlor and Shane Lawlor took their share of the easy pickings.
By half-time, Rathnure were 5-5 to 0-3 in front, already far out of sight.
They eased up on the goal-getting after the break, though Shane Lawlor completed an imperious hat-trick and substitute Martin O'Connor also muscled the ball into the net during a fixture in which all of his side's avalanche of scores came from play.
On a night they were always on the back foot, Connal Flood and BobWhitty led the resistance outfield for Cloughbawn but Seán Keating was the only one to emerge with reputation enhanced.
Rathnure: Liam Barron; Eoin Byrne, Denis Maher, Cathal O'Connor; Eoin Higgins, Brian Quigley, Ben Ronan; Michael Redmond (0-4), Podge Doyle (0-2); Shane Lawlor (capt., 3-5), Ciarán O'Connor (2-3), Micheál Martin; Jason Lawlor (1-0), Seánie Redmond (0-1), Aodhán Foley (1-1). Subs. - Paddy Flynn for Martin (34), Martin O'Connor (1-0) for Cathal O'Connor (41).
Cloughbawn: Seán Keating; Jack Wickham, Aaron Byrne, James Dempsey; Shane Flood, Connal Flood (0-1), Michael Kavanagh; Billy Wickham (0-1), Robert Kinsella; Daniel Dempsey, Gareth Dempsey, Lee Keating (0-1); Jack Somers, Bob Whitty (0-2, 1 free), David Casserly. Subs. - Steven Casserly (0-1) for D. Casserly (38), Johnny Connors for Somers (38).
Referee: John O'Loughlin (Monageer-Boolavogue).