Cumann Pheadaír Naofa 1-14
Cumann Pheadaír Naofa senior hurlers opened their championship campaign in Castlewellan on Sunday evening on the back of being confirmed as Division 2 winners during the week. On Thursday evening news broke that Ballela had failed to beat Ballycran, and although they still have two games yet to play, they are five points behind the blues, which means they will now be promoted to division 1 next season.
Having had this moral boost only days earlier, Tom Daly, Sean Mallon & Liam Boyle were quick to quell any celebrations ahead of this vital opening round robin encounter with Division 1 side Kilclief. A twenty metre strike from Conor Keenan opened the scoring for the blues and four minutes later John O’Kane got the first of his eight points with a lovely over the shoulder strike. But by the thirteenth minute Andy McCann, Fintan Conway & Conal Magee had the Kilclief lads a point to the good. The game was very finely balanced with each of the defenses refusing to allow their opposition the time or chance to steal a lead that could prove to be vital, as Matty Teague was having a superb day sweeping up around the half backline. The remaining fifteen minutes saw the teams go tit for tat, for every score the blues got, Kilclief answered back within a minute as Magee & Conway ensured that the Kilclief side always drew level when O’Kane, Keenan & James O’Hare had put the blues into a one-point lead. It was a fair reflection on the game when Dennis McKay blew his half time whistle with the teams at seven points each.
O’Kane once more gave the blues a single advantage in the opening minute of the second half, which Magee cancelled sixty seconds later, before giving them the lead, again from a dead ball situation three minutes later, as referee Dennis McKay was punishing the Warrenpoint side for some undisciplined fouls within their own half, that kept the Kilclief side in contention. When Fintan Conway knocked over a score seven minutes into the half, for the first time in the game the advantage was now two points. Conan O’Neill blasted over on ten minutes, but Conway grabbed what was the score of the match when he drove the sliotar over the bar from a fifty metre sideline much to the delight of the large attendance. Kilclief now looked to be in the driving seat and the Warrenpoint side tried every thing to break down the Kilclief men as the game entered the final quarter and with two points between the sides it looked extremely likely that a goal from either side would seal the result in their favour. The blues never gave up and although they were guilty of several wide’s, they never gave up. Further points from O’Kane and sub Tiernan Murphy kept the blues in the hunt, but McCann & Conway kept the score board ticking over for their side in return. With thirty minutes played the blues finally hit the purple patch they had threaten to do throughout the game. A long delivery down the wing from Conan O’Neill saw Cathal Fagan round his marker and seeing nothing in his way he opted to take a chance and head for goal, slipping past an in coming tackle he let fly and gave McMullan no chance in the Kilclief net. With his side now a point up Fagan once more gathered possession and tapped the sliotar over McMullan’s crossbar for a two-point advantage. From the resulting puc out Kilclief could have sto0le it when Niall Conway, finding some room let fly a bullet of a shot, only to see it go agonizingly wide and hit the side netting. The game was now deep into injury time when O’Kane pointed a free to send the blues into a three-point lead and second later when the whistle blew the Warrenpoint management were delighted to see their side come out deserving winners on a score line of 1-14 to 0-14.
In two weeks’ time the blues have the chance of going top of their section when they take on Castlewellan in their last group game before the knock out stages in September.
Warrenpoint: A O’Brien, T Magee, T Daly, J Grey, J McParland, M Teague, C O’Neill (0-1), S McElroy, M Rafferty, J O’Kane (0-8), C Keenan (0-1), K McCullagh, C Fegan (1-2), J O’Hare (0-1), T Magill.
Subs: T Murphy (0-1), F Murphy, N McParland
Kilclief: S McMullan, D McCleary, N McMullan, C Shields, P Nugent, O King, C Magee, F Conway (0-4), A McCann (0-1), C Magee (0-8), C Conway, L McMullan L Deegans, S Cultra, N Conway.
Subs: D McClements, N Conway, P Nugent (0-1)