Poole points way for 'Ford
Thirteen-point haul crucial
Kevin Poole pointed the way for Craanford as they outgunned Crossabeg-Ballymurn to capture the All-County Hurling League Division 2 crown at a sunny St. Patrick's Park on Sunday.
Craanford 0-19 Crossabeg-Ballymurn 2-10
The prolific Poole helped himself to 13 points and the number certainly wasn't unlucky for Craanford as it helped them to a fully-merited victory over a highly-fancied Crossabeg-Ballymurn outfit - a reversal of the outcome when the clubs' second sides met in the Division 6 decider at the same venue two nights earlier.
Twice Craanford were hit by sucker-punches when the Wexford District side grabbed goals at crucial junctures, but on both occasions they didn't allow their heads to drop and manfully managed to wrest back control of the contest.
When Tony Murphy hit the back of the net in the 23rd minute to give Crossabeg-Ballymurn a 1-5 to 0-5 advantage, they briefly threatened to take a firm grip, but Craanford were having none of it and tacked on the next five points to lead by 0-10 to 1-5 at the break.
Similarly, when David Jackman got the green flag waving early in the second-half, which was quickly followed by a Barry Murphy free to put Crossabeg-Ballymurn 2-7 to 0-12 up, it looked like last year's beaten Intermediate finalists would push on to victory.
However, Craanford are made of stern stuff, and with Poole to the fore they continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over, regained the initiative and then kept Crossabeg-Ballymurn at arm's length.
Craanford were quickest out of the blocks and held a 0-4 to 0-1 lead after 13 minutes, with Des Kavanagh, John Fleming and Kevin Poole (two) on target for the north county side and Barry Murphy replying for Crossabeg-Ballymurn.
The lead was quickly extinguished, however, with Seamus Carroll, Oisín Foley and Niall Murphy all splitting the posts, before Poole and Foley exchanged points and then Tony Murphy grabbed the opening goal.
Ronan Devereux drove in a ball from the right wing and Murphy ran on to the delivery and confidently batted home the sliothar to put his side 1-5 to 0-5 to the good.
However, Craanford finished the half strongly and Kevin Poole picked off four points to add to Michael O'Loughlin's effort to give them a 0-10 to 1-5 half-time advantage.
Barry Murphy plundered the opening point of the second-half but scores from Kevin Poole (free) and John Fleming extended the lead to three.
Again Craanford were rocked back on their heels by a goal, with David Jackman collecting a handpass from Barry Murphy and confidently firing the ball beyond netminder Derek Finn to draw his side level (0-12 to 2-6).
A long-range Barry Murphy free put Crossabeg-Ballymurn ahead in the 37th minute but Craanford weren't going to be denied and scored the next three points, with Kevin Poole twice converting frees and Niall Berney getting in on the scoring act.
A Barry Murphy free in the 47th minute left the minimum between the sides, but moments later Crossabeg-Ballymurn were left with a real mountain to climb when Matty Sludds received his marching orders after a second booking and Craanford were awarded a penalty.
Kevin Poole blazed it over the bar, but further points from John Lancaster and Poole again gave them an 0-18 to 2-8 advantage.
Barry Murphy reduced the gap to three points with five minutes remaining, and Crossabeg-Ballymurn were handed a gilt-edged opportunity to get back into the game when Tony Murphy was brought down for a penalty two minutes later.
Niall Murphy took the responsibility but saw his low effort brilliantly saved by netminder Derek Finn, and with it their chance was lost.
To rub salt into the Crossabeg-Ballymurn wounds, Billy Roche was dismissed late on after being shown a second yellow card, while Barry Murphy and Craanford's Pat Murray also saw red after an injury time scuffle.
Craanford: Derek Finn; Pat Kenny, Stevie Greene, Joe Berney; Michael O'Loughlin (0-1), William Conroy, Michael Lyons; Pat Murray, Niall Berney (0-1); Kevin Poole (0-13, 7 frees, 2 '65s, 1 pen.), John Fleming (0-2, 1 line ball), Matthew Nolan; John Lancaster (0-1), Des Kavanagh (0-1), Tony Kavanagh.
Crossabeg-Ballymurn: Mark Dempsey; David Kehoe, Billy Roche, Matty Sludds; Paddy Devereux, Bill Eviston, Alan Byrne; Ronan Devereux, Seamus Carroll (0-1); Conor Devereux, Tony Murphy (1-0), Oisín Foley (0-2); Niall Murphy (0-2, 1 '65), Barry Murphy (0-5, 2 frees), David Jackman (1-0). Subs. - Eoin McDonald for C. Devereux, David Murphy for P. Devereux.
Referee: James Owens (Askamore).