Naomh Éanna goes wild in the second half to defeat Ballyhogue
Naomh Eanna 2-20, Ballyhogue 1-13
It was a moment to come, but there was some revenge for Naomh Éanna’s second string as the first Ballyhogue stormed in the second half on Sunday as they won the EEW All-County Hurling title League Division 5 in a St. Patrick’s Park.
Ballyhogue had beaten Gorey’s men to County Junior ‘A’ Championship honors in the 2019 decider, and although Naomh Éanna only featured four of that selection on that occasion – two starters – their relationship has certainly been rewarded with some satisfaction.
Ballyhogue, starting with ten of that Championship-winning crew – and pulling three more off the bench – produced an encouraging first half to lead 1-10 to 0-7 at the break.
But Des Kehoe’s men were confined to just three points more as Naomh Éanna cracked down in the second half.
The first six points were split before two each from impressive set ball Ronan Minogue and Shane Byrne – the latter’s third tally – edged Ballyhogue 0-7 to 0-4 after 17 minutes. While Gearóid Cullen pulled off two dead ball scores to keep it down, Ballyhogue was boosted by a strong halftime finish.
A few Minogue frees sandwiched a Noel Roche submission, before captain Graham Parker ventured from midfield to net after the ball broke from a point in a struggle between striker Dylan Dalton and Gorey full-back Cian Browne.
That left him with six points at the changeover, but even though the crosswind favored no one, Naomh Éanna blew Ballyhogue with sure footing in the final 30 minutes.
Gearóid Cullen was unlucky with an early goalscoring chance but made up for it with his meteoric fortune on set balls, while recent County Under-20 JJ Twamley – surely destined for Championship action senior in the coming weeks – cut the gap to one point before he scored a conversion in the 41st minute (1-12 to 1-10).
Shane Flood sent Twamley inside, where he showed some neat footwork to overcome a few challenges before diving into the country net.
While a left wing free from Ronan Minogue ended Ballyhogue’s second-half drought after 42 minutes, their hopes were dashed seconds later when former Buffers Alley man Seán Óg Whelan leveled his midfield partner Twamley by raising a green flag – sparking an unstoppable drive towards the roof of the net (2-12 to 1-11).
Gearóid Cullen’s trotting four extended the lead to eight points before Minogue – from another sans – had Ballyhogue’s second of the half in 55 minutes (2-16 to 1-12).
Cullen (two), Twamley and Peter Travers – uncle of corner forward Caellum – provided further insurance scores for the greens and whites, before Conor Byrne closed the scoring with a Ballyhogue consolation run.
Those teams are separated for the Junior ‘A’ Championship group stages, where Ballyhogue is determined to bounce back from last year’s demotion.
But Naomh Éanna – semi-final and quarter-final losers to eventual winners since their heartache in 2019 – clearly has all the potential to be a serious driver and agitator in the Championship again over the next eight weeks. .
Naomh Eanna: Rory Tubritt; Rúairí Sheil, Cian Browne, Tiernan Black; Scott Murphy, Cathal Stokes, Michael Kennedy; Seán Óg Whelan (1-1), JJ Twamley (1-3); John Doyle, Gearoid Cullen (0-12, 7 free, 2’65), Peter Travers (captain, 0-2); Caellum Travers (0-1), Brendan Travers (0-1), Shane Flood. Subs. – Rian Fitzpatrick for Doyle (HT), Thomas Wheatley for B. Travers (33), Nathan Byrne for Sheil (55), Lee Kinsella for P. Travers (58), Dylan Cooke-Leonard for Flood (60+1), Mikey Cushe for C. Travers (60+1), as well as Conor Kelly, Daragh Canavan, Barry Kinsella, Oran Fitzpatrick, Darragh Fitzpatrick, Cian Ó Tuama, Brian Cushe, Robbie Hayes (capt.).
Ballyhog: Niall Maher; Eamonn Doyle, Eddie Galavan, Colm Parnell; Sean Ring, James Parle, Conor Byrne (0-1); David Hennebry (0-1), Graham Parker (captain, 1-0); Liam Rossiter, Shane Byrne (0-2), Cian Wickham; Ronan Minogue (0-7, 5 francs, 1’65), Dylan Dalton, Noel Roche (0-2). Subs. – Shane Roche for Dalton (46), Seán Rochford for Roche (55), Tadhg Malone for Ring (55), also Murt Levingstone, Enda Minogue, Mick Parker, Peter Kelly, Cian Rochford, Tobias Redmond, Liam Doyle, Ronan Byrne, Cian Rodgers, Conor Rodgers, Conor Dawson.
Arbitrator: Martin Quigley (Rathnure).