Padraig Pearses 0-14
A display full of determination and passion helped a jubilant Padraig Pearses to maintain their senior hurling status by edging out a Kinvara side that also battled to the end in a hard fought, do-or-die relegation encounter at Kenny Park last Saturday.
While the winners and their supporters were, understandably, celebrating at the finish the result sends the border club down to the intermediate grade for 2015 and is a huge blow to Kinvara, although they have many fine players who will fight tooth and nail next year when they try to regain their place in the upper tier.
It was a sad end to the campaign for Kinvara who didn’t enjoy much good luck in the current championship, but they can have few complaints about this result even though they never threw in the towel. They launched a series of late attacks in a bid to save the day, but they found a resolute Ballymacward-Gurteen combination in no mood to surrender.
Pearses, who looked faster and fitter, made some unforced errors from time to time but made up for them with hard running and tigerish tackling that often ended in Kinvara losing possession. John Raftery had his men really fired up for this crucial clash and they never wavered in their efforts to consolidate their place in the premier grade.
Some of the losing side in contrast showed a poor first touch, shot too many wides and made several mistakes, including clearances going straight to opposing players. A lucky goal at the three-quarter stage when they were hanging on gamely gave them a real lifeline as it brought them level at a stroke, but they were unable to build on it and only scored once after that.
Pearses promptly replied with a point and later added two more. The groundwork for this win was laid in the first half when the winners had a strong wind behind them as they built a 0-10 to 0-4 lead. The six-point advantage was badly needed as Kinvara came out for the second half in determined fashion and they shot three points in as many minutes to reduce the deficit to a goal and it was very much game on at that stage. Pearses, however, weathered the storm despite only scoring a solitary point in the third quarter.
A confident start had seen Pearses grab five of the first half dozen scores with Jimmy Gelston and Tomás Flannery in accurate form before young Conor Whelan, who again emphasised his great potential, got one at the other end. Kinvara were creating chances but they were unable to break down a strong Padraig Pearses rearguard where Anthony and Tomás Kenny and Padraic Raftery were in inspired form. In front of them their half-backs Richie Lally, Damien Wynne and Kerril Hardiman were also standing firm when danger threatened.
When Adrian Bellew and Cyril Donnellan, with a delightful point from out on the wing, widened the gap it was again Conor Whelan who replied for the lads in purple and gold after collecting a Shane Kavanagh free and he then converted a 65 to make it 0-5 to 0-3 midway through the first period. At that juncture it was looking good for Ollie Bergin’s charges, given the weather conditions, but they had a disappointing second quarter.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.