Rathnure too good for Alley
Scare has positive impact
Sometimes a major fright can work wonders for a team in the long run, and that appears to be the case with Rathnure as they hit the last six points to ease to a convincing win over long-time rivals Buffers Alley in this Pettitt's Senior hurling championship Group B clash in Innovate Wexford Park on Sunday.
Rathnure 0-20 Buffers Alley 0-11
After last year's close call, the black and ambers are performing like they never want to see a relegation decider again.
And while they are not mathematically sure of a quarter-final spot this time around with just two rounds gone, they are certainly playing well enough to suggest that they won't be sweating it out at the wrong end of the competition next October.
Their second win in eight days owed a great deal to the discipline shown before the break by a defensive sextet featuring three seasoned campaigners and three relative newcomers.
While Buffers Alley had the wind blowing towards the Clonard end in their favour, it was noticeable that none of the scores that gave them an interval lead of 0-8 to 0-6 came from placed balls.
Instead they had to rely on the long-range accuracy from play of the Kenny cousins, Andrew and Pat, because the Rathnure backs were in no mood to give away cheap frees.
Antony O'Connell led the way from corner-back with a stellar showing, and that strong rearguard action continued after the break when the Alley managed just one point from play and three in all.
In contrast, the losers handed their rivals points on a plate - seven in total - from frees once Rathnure were granted wind advantage.
Their indiscretions were always going to be punished by Jack Guiney, who moved to midfield for the second period, and he converted four including two monster efforts from deep inside his own half while also contributing a brace of beautiful first-time pick and strike efforts from play.
He left three of the close-range frees for Ciarán O'Connor to tap over, and truly the Alley were very much the authors of their own downfall as they failed miserably to match the discipline shown by Rathnure when defending into a wind.
Fourteen wides (Rathnure had ten) also underlined that the forwards aren't clicking either, with the low tally of eleven points repeated for the second game running.
While the Alley led by three points twice in the opening half, they were never able to establish a decent lead despite some good play from Willie Doran, Seán Murphy, the Kenny brothers, Ciarán and Andrew, and their first cousin Pat.
With 16 wides (nine for the Alley) it was a generally poor spectacle, with goal chances at either end for Aidan Redmond and Tomás O'Leary saved by netminders Oliver O'Leary and Dermot Flynn in the sixth and 27th minutes respectively.
Andrew Kenny did convert the first scoreable free awarded to his team after a trip less than two minutes into the new half, but Rathnure were level by the 38th minute (0-9 each).
Jack Guiney pointed two frees from deep in defence, with a Michael Redmond score sandwiched in between, although Kenny restored the Alley lead from a '65.
Five points on the bounce between the 42nd and 49th minutes gave Rathnure a lead they never looked like giving up though, with Guiney (three, two frees) and Ciarán O'Connor (two frees) obliging to make it 14-10.
Ross Donohoe had what proved to be the last Alley point before Rathnure finished on a high as substitutes Robbie Codd and Syl Barron joined the prolific Guiney/O'Connor pairing on the scoresheet.
Rathnure: Dermot Flynn; Denis Maher, Brendan O'Leary, Antony O'Connell; Pádraig Doyle, Brian Quigley, Seán O'Neill; Michael Redmond (capt., 0-2), Paddy Whiteley (0-1); Richard Flynn, Ciarán O'Connor (0-5, 3 frees), Aidan Redmond; Rory Higgins, Jack Guiney (0-9, 6 frees, 1 '65), Shane Lawlor (0-1). Subs. - Syl Barron (0-1) for A. Redmond, inj. (23), Robbie Codd (0-1) for R. Flynn (HT).
Buffers Alley: Oliver O'Leary; Barry Kenny, Willie Doran, Paudie Reidy; Kevin Roche, Ciarán Kenny (capt.), Seán Murphy; Bobby Kenny, Pat Kenny (0-3); Seán Og Whelan, Andrew Kenny (0-6, 1 free, 1 '65), Paul O'Leary (0-1); Tomás O'Leary, Ross Donohoe (0-1), Shane Grannell. Subs. - Robert O'Leary for Whelan (50), John Farrell for T. O'Leary (56).
Referee: James Owens (Askamore).