Gorey claim first big scalp with gritty win
Naomh Eanna kick-started their Pettitt's Senior hurling championship Group A campaign with a fully-deserved victory over 2014 winners Shelmaliers in Bellefield on Friday.
Naomh Eanna 2-15 Shelmaliers 1-14
The Gorey boys were unlucky not to get the better of Glynn-Barntown last time out, but they didn't let that disappointment affect them into their second outing as they stifled Shelmaliers in the opening half before edging clear with the breeze after the break.
In such a tight group it might well take three wins to make the last eight, and Naomh Eanna look to have the weapons to give that target a great shot. The key for the Senior newbies is to keep getting performance from around the field, much like they have so far.
Conor McDonald and Eoin Conroy have understandably been targeted as dangermen in the opening rounds, but with both Cullens and Doyles operating at a high level, Gorey have performed admirably so far.
Shelmaliers were a little lucky to get off to a winning start and were clearly second best in this tie too. It's too early to hit the panic button but, despite being early in the season, the break in championship action seems to be coming at the right time for the Hollymount-based side.
Trailing by 0-2 to nil, Gorey netted in the eighth minute when McDonald handpassed out right to William Cullen and he smashed high to the net past Brian Murphy.
Gorey led by 1-2 to 0-4 at the end of the opening quarter but moments after Stephen Banville flicked wide, the experienced attacker hauled in Simon Donohoe's long ball and forced his shot past Barry Kinsella.
When Joe Kelly clipped over his fifth point in the 22nd minute, Shelmaliers led by 1-6 to 1-3. Yet Naomh Eanna grabbed a major fillip before the interval, a second goal. This time it was a wonderful team goal that involved most of the front sextet and ended with David O'Brien firing to the net.
With the sides deadlocked at the interval (2-4 to 1-7), Gorey had the upper hand with the second-half to follow with the wind at their backs. However, initially they struggled to shake off their resilient opponents as the sides swapped scores for the first 19 minutes and were level at each juncture up to 2-9 to 1-12.
When Conroy scored his first point, a disputed effort from tight to the right touchline, Gorey had a lead they would never give up. McDonald added to it three minutes later before his inter-county team-mate registered again.
Twice the Shels cut the gap to two but, after a couple of near misses, McDonald and Conroy ended the game with talismanic points to wrap up the victory and condemn the Over The Water team to their first loss of the season.
Naomh Eanna: Barry Kinsella; Peter Travers, Brendan Travers (capt.), Tom Stafford; Seán Doyle, Lee Kinsella, Gary Molloy; Eoin Conroy (0-3), Conor Hughes; Gearóid Cullen (0-2), Pádraig Doyle (0-2 frees), David O'Brien (1-0); Aodhán Doyle (0-1), Conor McDonald (0-6, 1 free, 1 '65, 1 line ball), William Cullen (1-1). Sub. - Kevin Harrington for Hughes (58).
Shelmaliers: Brian Murphy; Andre O'Brien, Simon Donohoe, Aidan Cash; Conor Walsh (0-1), Brian Malone (0-1), Ciarán Walsh; Ciarán O'Shaughnessy, Benny Barron (capt., 0-1); Joe Kelly (0-6, 4 frees, 1 '65), Eoin Doyle (0-1), Aaron Murphy; Páraic O'Leary, Stephen Banville (1-2), Tommy Barron. Subs. - Glen Malone for Murphy (28), Conor Hearne (0-2) for T. Barron (28).
Referee: Barry Redmond (Clonard).