Two second half goals from Enda Concannon propelled Castlegar to their second win of the 2017 senior hurling championship in Loughrea on Sunday – and, on current form, it looks as if their next game against Beagh will go a long way to deciding which of those two will top their Senior ‘B’ group.
With both Castlegar and Beagh the only two teams unbeaten in their section after the opening rounds, it tees up their third-round fixture quite nicely, particularly as the winner will be the strong favourite to not only top the group but, as a result, secure Senior ‘A’ hurling for 2018.
That is, of course, if everything goes to plan in the remaining two rounds but with Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry, Ardrahan, Clarinbridge and lowly Carnmore all struggling to generate momentum at present, it does appear as if it is down to these two.
For Castlegar’s part, they will be content with their progress so far although it would be remiss of them not to look for improvements going forward, particularly in the number of frees they conceded in this contest.
On this reporter’s count, it was over twice as many as Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry’s and while they were not punished by a distance dead ball specialist of their own Ger Farragher’s calibre, such indiscretions will be punished by the Gantley brothers – Rory and Joe – in the next round.
That aside, once Castlegar rode out a difficult opening period – they trailed Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry for most of the first half – they always looked the better bet to take the championship points on offer in this one.
The decisive moments arguably came before and after half-time. A plethora of points late in the half from Farragher (play and free), Concannon and Mike Fahy saw them take a 0-8 to 0-7 lead at the interval and they quickly built on this upon the restart when Concannon found the net on 32 minutes.
The goal was certainly well worked as Owen Teagle brilliantly defended a Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry attack before setting up the swift counter that would put the unstoppable Concannon thundering through on goal.
Two Shane Moloney frees offered a timely riposte, but in the space of five minutes Castlegar hit 1-1 while their opponents wasted a succession of chances.
The Cashel point came from the stick of Eamon Ruane after a super passage of play while their second goal was netted on the three-quarter mark after Concannon raced onto a long ball that found its way behind the Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry cover and he made no mistake with the finish.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.