PREMIER INTERMEDIATE HURLING CHAMPIONSHIP: Kildimo/Pallaskenry 2-16 Bruff 0-16. Our hurlers are returning to a Premier Intermediate semi-final, as they picked up another win; this time over last year’s beaten county finalists, Bruff. This is a team who lay just behind us in the table prior to this match and are one of the strongest teams at this grade, so this was a very encouraging victory. It means that we are guaranteed a spot in the semi-final with two games in the group still to play. It certainly wasn’t all plain sailing, particularly in the first half, but we dug deep in the second half to secure the win.

We had the aid of a decent breeze in Claughaun in the first half and we did start well. Adam Butler showed an excellent first touch to control the first ball and turned to strike a beautiful score between the uprights to open the scoring. Bruff levelled things before Kyle Hayes got his first point of the evening from way out on the touchline, and this was followed by an inspirational score from our captain Barry O’Connell. He drove forward from his centre-back position, avoiding a couple of hooks before landing the ball just over the crossbar. We would hit a third point in a row from a Liam Griffin free after Kyle Hayes had been fouled while running at the Bruff defence. During this period, some great fielding from the likes of Lorcan O’Leary and Barry O’Connell gave us a launchpad for our attacks. This was a good start but unfortunately, we lost centre-forward Shaun Barry to injury and this seemed to disrupt our flow a small bit. Bruff began to pick up a lot of the breaks, and then proceeded to do damage on the scoreboard.

They reeled off five points without reply to take a two-point lead before Darren O’Connell finally stalled their momentum as he stepped away from his marker and popped the ball over the bar for his first score. Another Bruff score was followed by another inspirational score from the captain when we needed it most. Barry took the ball in his centre-back position, found a bit of space, opened a shoulder and used the wind to land an absolute monster point from inside in his own half. When Bruff hit one of the few wides they would hit in the first half, a monster puckout with the wind from John Chawke caused trouble in their full-back line. There was a big scrap for possession and eventually Kyle Hayes was able to pop a handpass out to Darren O’Connell to take a score. This levelled matters up, and we then hit a third point on the trot when Conor Staff took on a Bruff player inside his own ‘65 and was tackled around the neck. John Chawke came up from between the sticks to take the free and landed it comfortably with the wind. Bruff would hit the final score of the half to mean things were all square at half-time: Kildimo/Pallaskenry 0-8 Bruff 0-8.

The match was all square but it had been far from our best performance, we hadn’t utilised the wind as much as we would have hoped and our energy levels weren’t at the levels required. We had also hit an awful lot of wides, and needed to improve our shooting accuracy to have a chance. Facing a Bruff team with some very accurate shooters in the ranks, the team were well aware of the task that faced them in the second half and they came out with real fire in their bellies. It was an excellent second-half performance, the work rate was superb and we seemed to win a lot of the crucial match-ups all over the pitch. Bruff hit the first score of the second half, converting a free but our backs totally dominated in this half, limiting Bruff to just three points from open play. However, John Chawke was also called into action to make a decent stop to prevent Bruff getting what would have been a crucial goal before we really exploded into life and would go on to hit 1-3 without reply, which was absolutely massive in the context of a tight game.

Kyle Hayes started things off as he struck his second point of the game, Kyle had an absolutely massive second half, our opponents really struggled to live with his pace and power. Darren O’Connell had hit two points in the first half but really upped things another few gears in the second half and played a key role in the next three scores. He showed brilliant hands when John Chawke picked out his run with a quick free. Darren popped outside to Kyle, who had anticipated he would win it. The Bruff backs had no option but to foul Kyle, and Adam Butler fired over the free. Darren would then win the ball directly from a John Chawke puckout, raced in behind the cover and popped over the bar. The final score in this purple patch, and the most important by far, was also finished by Darren. Liam Griffin cut a lovely sideline into the space across him, he took it into his hand and slipped it past the goalkeeper for the first goal of the game!

This brought his tally for the day to 1-3 from play, and gave us a five-point advantage. This was the first time either side had such a lead, and we saw the game out well from this position. Even with the wind at Bruff’s back, we totally dominated their puckout at the start of the second half, winning their first eight puckouts in a row. Our half-back line of Cían Hayes, Barry O’Connell and Lorcan O’Leary were imperious under the dropping ball and the likes of Peter Nash were gobbling up every break. Kevin O’Connell and Luke O’Keeffe didn’t give their men a sniff in the second half, while Tony McCarthy was marshalling things superbly, as ever at the back. Another free for Bruff stopped our run of scores but then we had a sniff of another goal chance as Liam Griffin escaped in behind but his shot from the angle was well-saved by the Bruff goalkeeper but John Chawke converted the ’65 to restore our five-point advantage. We then saw one of the scores of the game when Cían Hayes picked out Conor Staff who in turn found Kyle Hayes who slotted the ball over the bar to give us a six-point advantage.

We were well in the groove now, with our watertight defence giving us a massive platform to build on and the work rate of our forwards and midfield meant Bruff were getting no easy ball, and no easy shots. A first point from play in the second half for Bruff stemmed the tide slightly but then Darren O’Connell was fouled in a central position, and Adam Butler popped over yet another free. Darren was very elusive at this point and when he burned away from his marker, we had another goal opportunity as he popped the ball across the face of goal to Liam Griffin but the Bruff goalkeeper was very brave in coming out to block the shot. Our opponents then utilised the wind well to hit a couple of frees from distance to reduce the gap to just four points again before a classic score from Kyle Hayes got us back on track. He made his run and caught a John Chawke puckout brilliantly, immediately running at goal. He could have forced a goal chance with Darren O’Connell lurking dangerously inside but decided to take the sensible option and flick it over the bar.

Bruff were now throwing the kitchen sink at us and had moved a couple of their big players closer to goal. Sean Finn, forward from centre-back, had a sniff of a goal chance but John Chawke was again equal to the task, making the necessary save. We then hit them with a hammer blow in those final minutes as Kyle set up Conor Staff, who hit a speculative effort from about 30 metres out which ended up in the back of the net! This was a first ever Championship goal for Conor, the club’s Young Hurler of the Year from 2017 and now gave us an eight-point advantage!

Keel Moloney made a big impact off the bench, putting in a huge block on Paul Browne to deny a goalscoring opportunity within seconds of coming on and he made a couple of other big tackles in the closing stages, as did the likes of Barry O’Connell, to ensure that Bruff

didn’t score any goal. Our two All-Ireland winners linked up for the final score of the game, Barry O’Connell emerging from defence yet again with the ball and picking out Kyle Hayes who struck his fifth point from play, a fine tally. It was good to see the impact off the bench from the likes of Keel as well as Jack O’Keeffe and Dylan Corrigan but this was a clinical second half performance, with excellent work rate all over the pitch.

It’s great to be back in a semi-final, and particularly with two games to spare, and the players must be credited for getting back to that stage as soon as possible, looking to avenge last year’s semi-final defeat. That will focus the minds but there are two more group matches to get results in. Credit must go to all involved including manager Chris Sexton, coach Peter Finn and to the others involved: Éanna McGarrigle, Jim Maher, Sean Cuddihy, Liam Hurley and Alan Fitzgerald as well as the players who continue to put in big performances on the pitch! Our next Championship match is in two weeks’ time, Saturday August 31 against Cappamore, also in Claughaun.

Team: John Chawke (0-2, 0-1 free, 0-1 ‘65); Kevin O’Connell, Tony McCarthy, Luke O’Keeffe; Cían Hayes, Barry O’Connell (0-2), Lorcan O’Leary; Cathal Downes, Peter Nash; Kyle Hayes (0-5), Conor Staff (1-0), Shaun Barry; Adam Butler (0-3, 0-2 frees), Darren O’Connell (1-3), Liam Griffin (0-1, free)

Subs: Jack O’Keeffe for Shaun Barry (13 mins, inj); Dylan Corrigan for Liam Griffin (52 mins); Keel Moloney for Adam Butler (56 mins)

ALL-IRELAND COMMUNITY GAMES POC FADA: A huge congratulations to young clubman, Joe Fitzgerald, who claimed 3rd place in the All-Ireland Poc Fada competition which was part of the Community Games National Finals held at the weekend! Joe put in a huge effort to get there, and all this hard work paid off ; any day you place in the medals in a national competition is a good say and we at the club are hugely proud of Joe and his achievement!

INTERMEDIATE FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP: Our intermediate footballers return to action next weekend, as they face Mountcollins on Sunday evening at 6pm in Newcastlewest. It has been a decent first year at the intermediate grade for our first footballers, but we need to get a win in this match to ensure that we don’t get dragged into a relegation play-off. We currently sit in 4th place in the table, with our opponents, Mountcollins, bottom. They are a proud club, quarter-finalists at this grade just two years ago, and will be absolutely desperate for a victory to avoid the relegation play-off. It is another big test for our footballers but it would be nice to finish the season with a flourish and another win, to give us confidence heading into next season. Best of luck to all involved, and we hope to see the parish come out in support of the footballers in this fixture!

U-16 FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SEMI-FINAL: Kildimo/Pallaskenry 3-8 Ballylanders 1-7. Our U-16 footballers had a great victory on Sunday morning as they defeated Ballylanders by seven points to book their place in the County Final!

CLUB LOTTO: The numbers for this week’s club lotto in the Seven Sisters were 2, 9, 15 and 19. There was no winner of the overall draw, and the prize fund increases to €3,000 for next week’s draw in the Corner House. The winners of the €25 lucky dips were: John Fitzgibbon, Donal Cahill, Denise and Oisin McDonald.

Please continue to support the club lotto, a vital source of income for the club!

CLUB LIMERICK DRAW: We had a winner in the July edition of the Club Limerick draw as M & A O’Sullivan took home €250! There is no better way to support both and show our players that you are supporting them all the way! Kildimo Pallaskenry GAA is very fortunate to have a number of players involved with county teams in both hurling and football across a number of grades. Join the CLUB Limerick Draw online or with any club committee member. Support your club and county teams!

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