Mungret/St. Paul’s 1-17.

Unprecedented circumstances but Championship hurling returned at the weekend for the club. 2020 has been such a strange year for everyone across the globe but as some semblance of normality returns to the world, it was great to see our club once again compete in a Championship hurling match. It was obviously disappointing that more of our
supporters could not be present on the day, but those that were there were certainly vocal.
The result itself was also disappointing but it was a thrilling encounter and we are far from out! The match can still be viewed in full on YouTube for any of our supporters interested in having a look!
We have had some tight battles with Mungret in recent seasons, also in Ballybrown; they inflicted a two-point defeat on us in 2018 and we won by three last season. Both sides have been among the top Premier Intermediate sides over the past couple of years and, based on this display, will both be contenders again! Playing up the slope and against whatever wind there was in the first half, we played very well, with a huge work rate, although it was our opponents who opened the scoring with a point from play. We levelled immediately as a long puckout from John Chawke travelled all the way to team captain, Kyle Hayes, who turned and fired over the bar. Some great work rate from Kyle and Jack O’Keeffe then saw them turn over a Mungret back and Liam Griffin nipped and scored a lovely point from way out on the left touchline.
However, the first half was pretty even throughout, never more than a couple of points between the teams. Darren O’Connell added a point from play off his left side after a lovely
delivery into the space by Barry O’Connell, while Kyle was a huge threat, landing a couple of scores. Cían Hayes at full-back was very assured, easing the ball wide on a number of
occasions while Tony McCarthy and Peter Nash in the middle of the field were covering a huge amount of ground while the work rate from the likes of Conor Staff, Shaun Barry and
Kyle Hayes was absolutely phenomenal. Mungret were attempting to work the ball out short from defence and we applied massive pressure on this to win turnovers and then scores. We did concede frees on occasion and Mungret were accurate from placed balls and from open play when they were able to work opportunities. Darren struck another point from play before Darren and Kyle then linked up in the fullforward line and Kyle was hauled to ground as he went through on goal. Referee Eamonn Stapleton originally signalled for a penalty, but the foul looked to take place just outside the square and this was reversed to a free which was pointed by Liam Griffin. Kyle then intercepted a puckout which allowed Liam to flash over his second point from play. We had a second sniff of a goal chance when Kyle found Shaun Barry who had snuck in behind the cover. It looked like he may have been fouled as he bore down on goal but no free was
awarded and the eventual shot went wide. We were also unlucky not to extend our advantage after a great team move resulted in Jack O’Keeffe finding space to the left of the posts, but his shot went across the face of goal and wide.
The score of the half came from our wing-back, Cathal Downes. He got forward in support of the attack, and showed great skill, power and acceleration to escape his marker before firing a point from the left. We opened up a bit of a gap just before the break but Mungret nailed a number of frees before the break to leave the half-time score: Kildimo/Pallaskenry 0-11
Mungret/St. Paul’s 0-10.
It took us a while to get motoring in the second half and the first four scores of the half all went the way of our opponents, primarily from placed balls. Despite this, we were still
working hard and Barry O’Connell was beginning to exert a huge influence on the game from centre-back. Darren and Kyle had really threatened the Mungret full-back line in the first half and had won a number of frees in addition to notching scores. Tony McCarthy delivered a quality ball early in the second half, just outside Darren, he did superbly to pick, then burned past his marker and the covering sweeper before finishing brilliantly, one-handed, at the near post! This levelled the game once again and we would follow this up with a number of points without reply.
Kyle Hayes really tore into the game at this point, putting in a number of tackles and also punishing mistakes with some absolutely brilliant scores, playing a captain’s role. He was
also fouled as he took on a shot which allowed Liam to fire over yet another free and soon, a three-point deficit had been turned into a three-point lead. At this point, backlines on both
sides were totally on top: Cían Hayes and Barry O’Connell in particular were influential for us while Mungret were committing huge numbers in defence and smothering a number of our attacks. Cían produced two fantastic blocks in quick succession to deny Mungret an opportunity to reduce the deficit but this resulted in a sideline. Unfortunately for us, luck was with our opponents, and the sideline travelled all the way to the back of the net to level the game once more!
This happened just before the second half water break and the game was a really cagey affair on resumption. Both sides worked their socks off and there was plenty of physicality on
display. Mungret edged their noses in front but were pegged back by another superb score from Kyle, his sixth from play. Again, Mungret managed to work a score from play to give
them a one-point lead but Shaun Barry showed nerves of steel to land a free as we headed into stoppage team. We did have opportunities to win the game and our work rate remained really good but it was Mungret, with the very last puck of the game, who were able to work the crucial scoring opportunity and get the win. It was a hugely disappointing result after what was a decent performance but there is no time to feel sorry for ourselves, we are back out in action next Saturday at 3pm in Claughaun, as we take on Cappamore, a side we drew with last year. There are plenty of positives to take from the game, our work rate was excellent and we notched some really fine scores, but also plenty of things to work on. In the current format, we now have to win both our remaining games to make a County Semi-Final and that is a great incentive for all players and management. Best of luck to all involved ahead of next week’s match!
Team: John Chawke; Kevin O’Connell, Cían Hayes, Luke O’Keeffe; Lorcan O’Leary, Barry O’Connell, Cathal Downes (0-1); Tony McCarthy, Peter Nash; Shaun Barry (0-1, free),
Liam Griffin (0-6, 0-4 frees), Conor Staff; Darren O’Connell (1-2), Jack O’Keeffe, Kyle Hayes (0-6)
Subs: Adam Butler for Jack O’Keeffe (40 mins)