Craanford beat 14-man Mellows
Craanford 2-15 Liam Mellows 1-10
Craanford claimed a hard-earned Greenstar Gorey District Under-21 hurling Roinn 1 championship title in a chippy game with Liam Mellows in Páirc Uí Shíocháin on Tuesday.
Undoubtedly the turning point came in the 20th minute when Chris Callanan received a straight red card for a pull across an in-stride Kevin Poole. At that stage it was a 0-4 each tie and there looked to be very little between two clubs that are joined together at Minor level.
Was the red justified? It's a tough one, by the book those types of wild swings need to be outlawed but too many referees are happy to pull out a yellow for the same offence. Consistency is the key as there were other strokes later in the game that could have resulted in the same outcome.
There remained very little between the two sides right up to first-half added-time. It was six each when Poole, so often the provider for his side, was fouled again, just outside the '20.
The norm seems to be to take the easy point at that stage of a game but the Craanford hot-shot had other ideas. He hit it just below crossbar level and it cannoned off Frank Kavanagh's hurl and found the net.
A quick James Smyth point made it a 1-7 to 0-6 Craanford lead at the break. He added two more within ten minutes of the resumption as his side extended their lead to six.
However, Liam Mellows were not going down without a fight. Yusif Frih, who scored from a classy line ball in the opening half, picked off his third point and Eoin Cullen continued to register from dead-balls as they cut the deficit to four with seven minutes left (1-11 to 0-10).
The next goal was always likely to prove critical and, after points from Poole and Ollie Doran, it was the eventual victors who got it. From Liam Mellows point of view it was too easy, as a simple, long ball forward got Smyth away and he made no mistake with a close-range finish.
Nine points down, the Coolgreany club did find the net in the 59th minute when Liam Coleman forced the ball home after Joe Gardiner kept Ross Cody's long free alive, but it wasn't enough to stop Craanford from collecting the District title.
Craanford: Andrew Tighe; Jack Keogh, Pat Kenny, Patrick Redmond; Tony Kavanagh (0-1), William Conroy, Jim Redmond; Ollie Doran (0-2), Eoin Doyle (0-1); Jim Kenny (0-1), Martin Doyle (0-1), Kevin Poole (1-5, 1-3 frees, 0-1 '65); James Smyth (1-3), Cian O'Toole (0-1), Stuart Byrne. Subs. - Thomas Furlong for Byrne (41), Martin Kenny for Keogh (41), also Seán Byrne, Stephen Greene, Paddy Doyle.
Liam Mellows: Frank Kavanagh; Oisín Condren, Frank Roche, Luke Murphy; Shane Halpin, Ross Cody, Chris Callanan; Rory Heffernan, Joe Gardiner; Darragh Brooks (0-1), Eoin Cullen (0-6 frees), Liam Coleman (1-0); Micheál Ó Scannail, Robbie Brooks, Yusif Frih (0-3, 1 line ball). Subs. - Liam Condren for D. Brooks (42), Killian Pierce for Ó Scannail (56).
Referee: Pádraig Byrne (Tara Rocks).