Ballyhogue atones for slow start as they overhaul Oylegate-Glenbrien
BALLYHOGUE 1-18 OYLEGATE-GLENBRIEN 0-12
ALLYHOGUE EVENTUALLY vindicated the favorites tag at Killurin on Saturday, but only after Oylegate-Glenbrien gave them a good run for their money in the opening 50 minutes of this quarter-final of the permanent TSB Junior ‘A’ hurling championship.
It had been a slow campaign for the eventual losers heading into the Round of 16, and they only managed with a one-point win over Buffers Alley in the final round.
However, they threatened to catch fire in the first half of the encounter, as centre-forward Conor Heffernan’s precision shot propelled them to a well-deserved 0-10 interval lead at 0-5.
Ballyhogue’s mentors were worried enough to introduce two substitutes into their forward line before the break, and both had telling impacts as Liam Doyle and David Hennebry netted two points apiece for the side relegated from the junior ranks l ‘last year.
The strong historic throwing ties between the two clubs peaked in 1963, when several Ballyhogue players helped Oylegate-Glenbrien win their only senior title.
And there was an interesting connection here too as the winners were led by Graham Parker, whose recently deceased father Eugene – an Under-21 bowler with Wexford in the 1976 Leinster Championship – donned their rivals’ blue shirt with distinction throughout his career. .
An Oylegate-Glenbrien side wearing Taghmon-Camross shirts due to a clash of colors were clearly in for this game from the start, using the wind to explode from 0-5 to nil in nine minutes as four scores from Conor Heffernan (the first two of the game) were followed by one from Mikey Kelly after a delivery from John Lambert.
Cian Wickham finally got Ballyhogue – in the purple and gold – out of place before Heffernan hit back with a free kick. Graham Parker – who was directly opposed by his first cousin, Pádraic O’Connor – then intercepted a hand ball and charged in from the left, but goalkeeper Eddie Mernagh denied it with an excellent save.
The number one also beat Peter Kelly later in the half, and the underdogs maintained their decent lead as Heffernan continued to judge the wind to perfection with a series of accurate strikes from the game and placed balls.
Midfielders Enda Minogue and Shane Doyle had kept a struggling Ballyhogue in contention with points, but their fortunes improved somewhat in the first half when Graham Parker and Liam Doyle – with his first touch after being introduced – have reduced the deficit to five more manageable. (0-10 to 0-5).
It was 10-7 at the start of the second half when Oylegate-Glenbrien suffered a heavy blow, as centre-back Bryan McCormack went over his right ankle and had to leave the scrum.
While they were always likely to have been overtaken by their in-form rivals, there’s no denying that the presence of a player with McCormack’s experience would have made this task all the more difficult.
Ballyhogue still had to wait for the 45th minute to equalize after the points of Ronan Minogue (two francs), Peter Kelly and Graham Parker. Minogue’s early score was small consolation for having the ball in the net moments earlier, but referee Damien Donovan had been too quick to call a foul on Liam Doyle who was playing the corner forward with a hand pass.
Eddie Mernagh was seen again at his shot-stopping best during this spell when he narrowed the angles to deny Doyle with his upper body.
The mounting pressure finally revealed itself to a side from Oylegate-Glenbrien – runners-up to St. Fintan’s last year – who were reduced to two free points after Conor Heffernan’s break. It’s worth noting that only six of the 17 players used in that 2021 final defeat have featured on this occasion for various reasons, including promotion to the senior team.
Ronan Minogue scored three points on the free rebound before capping off the win with a goal in the 52nd minute. A partial block from Oylegate-Glenbrien captain Shane Lambert on a shot from Graham Parker turned around and he applied a smooth finish, making up for the frustration of that earlier effort being denied in the process.
Buffers Alley now await Ballyhogue in the semi-finals, as they look to reach that decider for the first time since their 2019 County title win over Naomh Éanna.
FOOTNOTE: A minute’s silence was observed for the late Paddy Bolger, father of Ken of the Oylegate-Glenbrien Intermediate winning team in 1992, and brother of Jim, the club’s racehorse trainer and huge hurling supporter and County.
Ballyhog: Niall Maher; Eddie Galavan, Sean Rochford, Colm Parnell; Eamon Doyle, James Parle, Conor Byrne; Shane Doyle (0-1), Enda Minogue (0-2); Cian Wickham (0-1), Shane Byrne, Peter Kelly (0-1); Liam Rossiter, Graham Parker (captain, 0-3), Ronan Minogue (1-6, 0-6 free). Subs. – Liam Doyle (0-2) for S. Byrne (30), David Hennebry (0-2) for Rossiter (30), Shane Roche for Wickham (59), Noel Roche for R. Minogue (60).
Oylegate-Glenbrien: Eddie Mernagh; Aidan Murphy, Padraic O’Connor, Shane Lambert (captain); Joseph Whelan, Bryan McCormack, John Lambert; Paul Burns, Ryan Cullen; Brian Doran, Conor Heffernan (0-11, 6 free, 1’65), Conail Byrne; Mikie Doyle, Enda Sludds, Mikey Kelly (0-1). Subs. – John McCormack for Byrne (21), Andrew Fitzhenry for B. McCormack, inj. (36), Cathal Mernagh for Doyle (48), Barry Doyle for Burns (49).
Arbitrator: Damien Donovan (Volunteers).