Johnny Hanley keeps the score for South Liberties against Murroe Boher in Cappamore last Sunday Picture: Keith Wiseman
The expectations were that we would have a bright start to the club hurling championship but sadly the quality on offer was poor to say the least.
With only one round of games played it already looks to be going along familiar lines. The weekend saw three of the senior hurling championship games shown live on TV and as mentioned last week it provided an opportunity for people to stay at home. They certainly did that and it was a really bad call by the County Board to show these early round games live.
It was, of course, easy money but did it do anything to help the games in Limerick. The answer is no. The County Board should have shown greater leadership in this regard and one would hope they will put the games first and not the offer of some soft cash. Playing games to suit TV will come back to hurt them.
There was no atmosphere in the Gaelic Grounds and who ever promoted the idea of playing such games on TV should be asked a few questions by fellow officers and clubs. The County Board are happy to call on clubs for fields throughout the year and it would have been fitting had those games in the Gaelic Grounds been played in Kilmallock, Bruff or other venues. At least it might have helped to bring more to watch the games.
Before I deal with the games it was with great sadness the news broke on Saturday that the well known and well respected JJ Kenneally had passed away. He was a fine gentleman and I will pay a well deserved tribute to him in next weeks column.
It was a pretty tame start to the club championship but already teams like Kilmallock, Patrickswell and Na Piarsaigh have sent an early signal. Many of the games lacked urgency and passion and what we are seeing is a fairly major gap opening up between many of the teams. The weekend offered a chance for players to put up their hand for county duty but even those that are already on panels failed to shine. County players should be driving their clubs forward but many of them were very quiet.
One of the pleasing aspects of the weekends senior games was that some young players did do really well. Teams like Kilmallock and Patrickswell will be very pleased with the performances of their young players in particular.
It was clear from an early stage that Kilmallock would always have the edge on Ballybrown. The thing that stood out to me in this game was that Kilmallock have got a good balance in their team now. New young players have come on and overall if they look a strong team. They hurled at will as Ballybrown struggled to do the simple things well on many occasions. They hit a lot of poor wides and that was always going to put them under pressure. Kilmallock are strong in most positions but they have a good spine to the team. They had thirteen points to spare at the end and in reality they always looked to be hurling in the comfort zone. Alan O’Connor kept Ballybrown in the game with frees and Kilmallock might want to pay a small bit of attention to this area going forward. It was a first outing for John Brudair as manager and he will be happy to have stated with a win. Next weekend Kilmallock face Adare. Ballybrown put in an honest hour but they don’t have the player base to match the likes of Kilmallock and Na Piarsaigh who they play next weekend.
As games go the meeting of Patrickswell and Adare will go down as one of the poorest I have seen for a long time. Patrickswell were miles ahead in many levels as Adare stood back and allowed them time, space and opportunities. I was expecting much more from Adare but in reality their game was over at half time. Seldom have I seen a senior team show such a lack of bite and energy. Adare struggled all over the field as Patrickswell played with a pep in their step. Normally games between these rivals would bring out the best in both teams but for nearly all of the game there was only one team. Patrickswell showed for the ball, they worked hard and took some fine scores. The introduction of good young players like John Flynn in defence and Josh Considine in attack has added to Patrickswell while Aaron Gillane and Peter Harty were in fine form also. To Harty’s credit he worked really hard and he was my man of the match. Seanie O’Brien operated at corner forward and he did well while Mark Carmody and Cian Lynch had a lot of possession. Adare got a couple of goals near the end of the contest but the game was well over at that stage. Adare have lost their way over the past few years in hurling and this year is not starting well for them. They play Kilmallock next weekend and hopefully they will show more bite.
Only a few weeks after they lost the replay of the All Ireland final Na Piarsaigh were back in action against Doon, a team that ran them very close last year. It was far from an exciting contest but from Na Piarsaigh’s point of view it was all about getting back to winning ways. They did that with greater ease than I thought as Doon struggled for long stages in the game. They allowed Na Piarsaigh dictate the game but when Doon ran at the Na Piarsaigh backs they got better returns. Only two points separated the teams at the break, Conor Boylan with the goal for Na Piarsaigh. It was a game of a lot of frees and I didn’t like to see some players looking for cheap frees. Johnny Murphy the referee was up to the task but it made his job a bit more difficult. Barry Murphy kept Doon in touch with frees but goals by Shane Dowling and Ronan Lynch made Doon’s task impossible. Ironically Doon did hurl better in the last ten minutes of the game and had they shown the same sort of effort from the start it would have been a great deal closer. Doon need to get more from some of their bigger players if they are to make progress this year.
Dylan O’ Shea
Making the step to adult hurling seemed easy for Garryspillane’s Dylan O’Shea who scored five points in his sides win over Bruree. O’Shea is a fine young player and like so many times in the past Garryspillane have a habit of developing good young players. Garryspillane are going in the right direction and next weekend they face Kildimo Pallaskenry. That should be a very interesting game.
For the fourth year in a row Brian Ryan from South Liberties scored a crucial point to seal a narrow one point win over Murroe Boher. Ryan hit ten points in total, six from frees and four from play. Shane O’Neill also had a fine game for South Liberties. They face Knockainey next Sunday evening and a win is vital to the future of both teams.
In the last couple of weeks I have had a lot of contact from clubs. They are very annoyed with the lack of response they get from the County Board. Many told me stories of how they email but time after time they fail to get a response. That really is not good enough. John Cregan spoke at convention about how he intends to visit all clubs. I am not sure if he has started calling to them yet but he might first want to have a word internally as to why clubs are shown such a lack of respect when they contact the County Board.