Rocks have slight edge
Tara Rocks 1-15 Shelmaliers 2-10
Tara Rocks ensured the points would go their way as an improved second-half showing helped them to an eventual two-point victory over Shelmaliers in this Top Oil Intermediate 'A' hurling championship game Group B game in St. Patrick's Park, Enniscorthy, on Friday.
While the sides were deadlocked at the interval, Shelmaliers were left to regret the lack of a consistent free-taker.
Having tried three players at different stages, they still saw five scoreable frees go the wrong side of the posts. These errors came back to haunt them, particularly as Tara Rocks were far more consistent with their efforts on goal, a factor that stood to them in the end.
Tara Rocks had a slow start, falling 0-3 to nil adrift inside the opening seven minutes as the Shels opened with quick-fire points from attackers Stephen Whelan and Liam Rockett.
The Shels still led by 0-4 to 0-3 at the end of the opening quarter as the respective attackers found scoring difficult.
Then the tall Ronan Kavanagh, who had drifted into the full-forward position, managed to gather a Denis Kelly high free to dispatch to the bottom corner of the net, making it 1-4 to 0-3.
One minute later the Shels had a golden opportunity of increasing their lead even further. After Kavanagh was fouled, 'keeper Adam Howlin who had made the long trek forward fired wide from the resulting penalty.
The north county side were lifted as a result of this miss, with Peter Hughes managing the get the ball over the line in a packed goalmouth which left the sides level (1-5 each) at the break.
Tara Rocks came out with renewed purpose on the resumption. Mark Boland blazed an early goal chance wide before Dean O'Toole pointed his side in front.
After Seán Keane-Carroll and Boland had exchanged points, the Rocks took the initiative with Dean O'Toole and Mark Boland slotting over fine points.
They continued to pick off a string of points through Niall Hughes, Bobby Hughes, Richard Hughes and Dean O'Toole (free) to stretch into a 1-15 to 1-10 lead entering the closing minutes, with only Seán Keane-Carroll frees keeping the Shels in touch.
Then in additional time, Keane-Carroll had a free blocked but Ronan Kavanagh was on hand to boot the breaking ball to the net, but the final whistle blew on the puck-out.
Tara Rocks: Tom Hughes; Aidan Jones, Edward Hughes, Cillian O'Toole; Cathal O'Reilly, Brendan Hobbs, Jim Hughes; Niall Hughes (0-1), Niall Breen; Peter Hughes (1-0), Mark Boland (0-3), Richard Hughes (0-3); Dean O'Toole (0-7, 6 frees), Bobby Hughes (0-1), Fionn Doyle. Sub. - Joe Bolger for Doyle.
Shelmaliers: Adam Howlin; Eoghan Fitzgerald, Kevin O'Leary, Cian Manley; Craig Parker, Eoin O'Leary, Cathal Gaule; Denis Kelly (0-1 free), Seán Keane-Carroll (0-6, 3 frees, 1 '65); Graham Staples, Stephen Whelan (0-2), Ronan Kavanagh (2-0); Aodhán Foley, Liam Rockett (0-1), Willie O'Shuaghnessy.
Referee: Brendan Martin (Ballyhogue).