CELBRIDGE repelled a brave challenge from Éire Óg Corrachoill in Clane last Sunday evening to claim their third successive round-robin win and with it a place in the last four of the Kildare Senior Hurling Championship, writes John Ryan.
Senior Hurling Championship
Mind you, the county champions were pushed all the way by a plucky Éire Óg Corrachoill side who, following first half goals from their father-son combination of Joe and Evan Dempsey, led by three points at the three quarter stage.
Whilst most watched on is disbelief as Celbridge – minus the services of the O Muineachain brothers, Tony Murphy, Fergal Conway and Tom Finnerty – slipped towards a shock defeat, those on the pitch refused to reach for the panic button, especially as their opponents tired considerably coming down the home straight.
Celbridge pointed three times in six minutes to draw level with ten minutes remaining, before their growing dominance made it five without reply by the 57th minute for a two point lead.
The hopes of Éire Óg Corrachoill – who took the game to their opponents for long spells with tenacity and power – were all but dashed when corner-back, Tommy Cullen was red-carded for a second bookable offence on the hour mark. To add insult to injury, Celbridge added a brace of closing points to wrap up the win for top spot in the ‘Losers Group’ and safe passage into the semi-finals of the SHC.
Indeed, it all looked to be going to plan for a badly depleted Celbridge outfit early on, as they held leads of 0-3 to 0-1 and 0-4 to 0-2 after six and ten minutes respectively whilst playing comfortably within themselves.
At that juncture they were barely into to their stride, yet still creating with relative ease. However, just like most of their performance, Celbridge’s end product too often lacked conviction against an Éire Óg Corrachoill side who, for all of their limitations, certainly made up for any shortcomings in other facets of their play.
Not for the first time in his distinguished career, Declan O’Toole carried plenty of Éire Óg’s expectations on his shoulders and two pointed frees from the veteran tied up matters after 14 minutes.
With their dominance in the middle third showing no sign of being challenged, normal service appeared to be resumed when Celbridge reeled off successive points from Conor Kenny, Paddy Moloney, Billy White and Danny Butler to forge clear on double scores (0-8 to 0-4) by the 21st minute.
Still, their slackness returned to haunt them when firstly Evan Dempsey availed of a kind break off his father before sweeping home to the net past ‘keeper, Niall Lanigan in the 24th minute for the Caragh side’s first goal of the game, before Joe Dempsey was on hand to tuck home a rebound off Lanigan’s save from Shane Cooke six minutes later that garnered a 2-4 to 0-8 half-time lead for the side from Donore.
It was more of the same during the third quarter in terms of the exchanges, even though the scoring was very much nip and tuck, with O’Toole (free), Richie Whelan and Paul Kennedy adding points for Éire Óg Corrachoill whose lead stood at 2-7 to 0-10 after 41 minutes.
The nerveless Sam White – scorer of 0-8 (6f) – exchanged pointed frees with O’Toole, before the former and Evan Dempsey did likewise by the 45th minute, the latter’s a good goal scoring opportunity with Joe Dempsey unmarked inside.
Still, a 2-9 to 0-13 lead was decent return for Éire Óg , but there was always the belief that Celbridge would get themselves out of the sticky situation they found themselves in provided they could build up a bit of steam.
That gathered some pace when Sam White (two frees) and the forever-running, Danny Butler pointed to level matters after 50 minutes, before Kenny tagged on a brace to give Celbridge a 0-17 to 2-10 advantage with three minutes of normal time remaining.
Evan Dempsey offered his side a brief hope of addressing Éire Óg Corrachoill’s slide, but when Cullen was ordered off for a second childish challenge, subsequent points from Sam White (free) and Mark Moloney were mere formalities.
Celbridge: Sam White 0-8 (6f), Conor Kenny 0-5, Danny Butler 0-2, Mark Moloney 0-2, Billy White 0-1, Paddy Moloney 0-1.
Éire Óg Corrachoill, Declan O’Toole 0-5 (5f), Evan Dempsey 1-2, Joe Dempsey 1-0, JP Crotty 0-1, Richie Whelan 0-1, Paul Kennedy 0-1.
Niall Lanigan; Liam McDonagh, Pa Curtin, Aidan McDonagh; Billy White, Donal Moloney, Shane McNamara; Danny Butler, Leo Quinn; Mark Moloney, Conor Kenny, Sam White; Paddy Moloney, Sean O’Carroll, Gerry Keegan. Subs: Shane O’Flynn for Curtin (blood-sub, 12-16 mins); Markus Kinsella for O’Carroll (h/t); Shane O’Flynn for Donal Moloney (inj, 37 mins); Kevin Murphy for McNamara (46 mins).
Éire Óg Corrachoill
Paul Dermody; Tommy Cullen, Brian Fitzpatrick, Gary Johnson; Declan Curran, Pauric Ryan, Kevin Connors; Mark Kelly, JP Crotty; Richie Whelan, Shane Cooke, Paul Kennedy; Evan Dempsey, Joe Dempsey, Declan O’Toole. Subs: Alan Dunney for Connors (55 mins); Liam Power for O’Toole (56 mins).