Guiney shines at centre-back
Pettitt's Senior Hurling Championship Group B: Rathnure 2-14 Naomh Eanna 2-12
A compact, organised Rathnure side took full advantage of the narrow Hollymount pitch to squeeze the life out of Naomh Eanna in Group B of the Pettitt's Senior hurling championship on Saturday.
The Blackstairs boys are hurling royalty but it's sometimes easy to disregard them as also-rans after a couple of years without threatening to do too much in the latter stages of the championship.
And maybe the bookmakers were a little guilty of that too. You know the landscape of Wexford club hurling has changed dramatically when the odds-makers compile their prices and make Gorey favourites in this tie.
In fairness, few would argue with that on last season's form, yet bookies' prices mean nothing once the two teams step over the white line. Maybe it gave Rathnure a little fire in their bellies, but the hard work still had to be done on the field.
They became the only 'underdog' to upset the applecart last weekend by wanting every ball. For the vast majority of this game they were the more direct side, they looked to play to their strengths and allowed the mercurial talent of Jack Guiney to dictate play.
And that's one of the areas where Naomh Eanna came up a little short, as they simply couldn't find the matching piece in the jigsaw to stem the constant flow of brilliance from the Rathnure centre-back.
As well as that, a quick glance at the starting forwards for Gorey would be enough to send a shiver down many a defender's spine. However, they didn't gel particularly well, nobody really shone out of the sextet, and Rathnure deserve great credit for that shutdown.
The best point Naomh Eanna scored all game came as early as the third minute when, starting from Barry Kinsella, they worked the ball through Jack Cullen and Aodhán Doyle before Gary Molloy applied the classy long-range finish.
They led 3-1 after Conor McDonald opened his account and then 0-6 to 0-2 at the end of the opening quarter on the back of a third dead-ball of the half from Pádraig Doyle. Then things started to slip.
There can be no arguments about the foul on James Tobin that gave Rathnure a penalty in the 18th minute.
With a weapon like the placed-ball power of Guiney, it's no surprise that he drove it high to Kinsella's right, past his despairing dive and into the net.
Rathnure got level when Shane Lawlor pointed but were behind again when debutant Cathal Dunbar broke onto a Kinsella puck-out, raced down the right wing and sent a drilled low finish to Dermot Flynn's net.
Despite leading by 1-7 to 1-4 in the 26th minute, Gorey eventually went in at the interval behind. There was just a point in it when Guiney found his third point, and Rathnure hit the front when Aidan Redmond's line ball found its way to Seán O'Connor and he rattled the net.
Trailing by 2-7 to 1-8 at the interval, Naomh Eanna opened the scoring in the second-half with a Darragh Hughes point.
However, they conceded the next five in a row, including two each from Rory Higgins and Ciarán O'Connor to fall 2-12 to 1-9 down.
The story of Gorey's final quarter was the goal chances they squandered. Dunbar was first to slap a weak shot at Flynn after breaking through from a fantastic little pass inside by David O'Brien.
McDonald was the next to be denied by the sharp Rathnure 'keeper after he hauled in Dunbar's arrowed line ball and thumped at goal. Gorey did get within three (2-12 to 1-12) when Pádraig Doyle popped over another free in the 53rd minute.
Two Guiney placed-balls opened the gap to five with three minutes left, but a more direct Naomh Eanna were causing problems at this stage.
They pulled a goal back when superb work by Jack Cushe picked out Jack Cullen and he thumped home a rocket on the turn.
Gorey threw everything at it in injury-time but the closest they came to snatching a win was when a McDonald shot was deflected behind off a defensive foot. The '65 came to nothing and Rathnure hung on to take a big win.
Rathnure: Dermot Flynn (capt.); Paddy Whiteley, Eoin Boggan, Cathal O'Connor; Shane Lawlor (0-1), Jack Guiney (1-5, 0-5 frees, 1-0 pen.), Aidan Redmond (0-1); Podge Doyle, Eoin Higgins; Richie Flynn, James Tobin, Michael Redmond; Seán O'Connor (1-1), Ciarán O'Connor (0-4 frees), Rory Higgins (0-2). Sub. - Seánie Redmond for Ciarán O'Connor (53).
Naomh Eanna: Barry Kinsella; Eoin Molloy, Brendan Travers (capt.), Peter Travers; Jack Cullen (1-0), Seán Doyle, Gary Molloy (0-1); Aodhán Doyle, Charlie McGuckin; Darragh Hughes (0-2 frees), Pádraig Doyle (0-6, 5 frees), Cathal Dunbar (1-0); Eoin Conroy, Conor McDonald (0-3), David O'Brien. Subs. - William Cullen for McGuckin (44), Lee Kinsella for P. Travers, temp. (44-45), Kinsella for Conroy, inj. (52), Jack Cushe for O'Brien (54).
Referee: Justin Heffernan (Blackwater).