Pat's power past Carnew
St Patrick's 2-12 Carnew Emmets 1-12
Last Saturday evening produced something of an inevitable result in Wicklow club hurling when St Pat's toppled Carnew Emmets in the Dacia Cars Senior Hurling Championship 2017 to leave last year's beaten finalists in a spot of bother.
With the Wexford border side struggling for scores and lacking a championship sharpness in recent times, they were ripe for the picking by a hungry St Pat's outfit who possessed a lethal attacker in the form of Andy O'Brien and it was the county star, among many, who dismantled a troubled Carnew outfit in the second half of this clash in Joule Park, Aughrim.
It should be said that Carnew were missing some key regulars ahead of this game but St Pat's produced such a dominant second half last Saturday that the result might well have been realised regardless of who Carnew had in their ranks.
Key to the victory was the awakening of Andy O'Brien after a terrible opening half for the Pat's man who found a quality nemesis in the shape of Andrew Hughes, who himself was aided by a shrewd defence in the opening 30. Such was Hughes' dominance that O'Brien left the field at half-time in a foul humour and giving out to referee Jimmy Kelly, his manager and members of the Pat's backroom team.
If Pat's were to turn the half-time score of 0-05 to 0-02 in favour of Carnew around they would need to unlock that Carnew defence and buy Andy some space.
Eight first half wides certainly didn't help Michael Neary's men but Carnew fully deserved their half-time lead. A shaky start where full-back Graham Keogh fouled Andy O'Brien in the opening minutes of the game provided Pat's with their opening score and Tom Darcy with his first positional switch of the day with Andrew Hughes retreating to full-back and Graham Keogh moving out the field.
With Martin O'Brien not available for selection, Padraig Doran donned the number six jersey and he started well with a fine catch and burst up the field before feeding to Dan Nolan who flicked on to Cormac Doyle who earned a 65 for his side. Enda Donohue fired wide but Carnew were showing a bit of bite.
One man in the mood for catching and running in the opening half was Robert Lambert and it was fine work from the county football goalkeeper that allowed Don Hyland fire a neat pass out to Graham Keogh in space and the unleashed full-back dropped over a lovely score to get Carnew off the mark.
An Andy O'Brien converted free after five minutes would be the Pat's men's last score of the half while Carnew went on to add points from Enda Donohue, one from a free and one from play, and a fine effort from Robert Lambert after good work by James Gregan and Andrew Hughes and a quality score from Don Hyland.
Pat's headed to the dressing rooms as a frustrated bunch but returned after a long break as a band of men intent on taking the game to Carnew, but it was last year's beaten finalists who had the busier start with a wide each from Robert Lambert and Don Hyland.
A foul by Cormac Doyle on George O'Brien provided John Connors with the chance from a free from distance and the full-back dropped over a monster to give his side a major boost in the early stages of the second.
Two tremendous scores from George O'Brien brought the Pat's men level and then a converted free from Andy O'Brien sent them into a lead they would never relinquish.
It was obvious that Pat's were looking to unleash Andy on the Carnew goal and a clever ploy of pushing their inside men out the field and leaving space inside for the talented county star was the key to unlocking his goal scoring potential.
His opening major arrived when a long ball from George 'Boo' O'Brien trickled past a collection of bodies and was met by the galloping O'Brien. With only Andrew Hughes for company, O'Brien turned and headed for goal. The Carnew support were out of place so O'Brien raced towards Michael Collins' goal, weaving a path between Graham Keogh and Oisin Furlong before cleverly releasing the ball and firing a low shot to the bottom corner of the net.
Enda Donohue (two frees), and Don Hyland pointed to pull Carnew back to a decent position at 0-08 to 1-06 with 13 gone but then a gorgeous ball from Eddie Kelly flew in over the head of Willie Collins and into the hand of Andy O'Brien who turned and rifled home past Hughes and Collins for what was the killer score.
O'Brien could have had a third moments later. Drew Brennan pointed for Carnew before Christy Moorehouse launched a bomb down on top of O'Brien who caught superbly in a crowd before turning and firing over a rasper that brushed the top of the Carnew crossbar on its way.
Enda Donohue made it 2-07 to 0-10 after 23 minutes but a stunning trio of points from John 'Dee' O'Brien put paid to any slim hopes of a Carnew recovery despite Enda Donohue driving low to the back of Eoghan O'Mahony's net and two sweet scores from substitute Timmy Collins.
A final score of 2-12 to 1-12 provided Pat's with a sweet victory over the men of Carnew with Andy O'Brien's rapid fire 2-01 being a major turning point. The midfield performance from Eddie Kelly and George O'Brien was a massive factor in this win with O'Brien's double early in the second half serving to boost the Pat's morale at a key moment.
John 'Dee' O'Brien's magnificent hat-trick of points drove Neary's men on at an important stage and fine work from the Pat's defence, apart from the late concession of 1-02, helped them record a very significant win.
Carnew needed the injured Timmy Collins much earlier in the game but his heavily strapped leg suggests that his introduction had to be managed carefully. Their lack of scoring threat is incredibly worrying. The return of Conal McCrea and Wayne Kinsella may help in this regard but they are a team in a difficult place at this moment in time.
Pat's power on. Their reliance on Andy O'Brien may eventually be their downfall but if he finds space he will score goals and no team is safe when that happens.
Scorers - St Patrick's: Andy O'Brien 2-06 (3f), John 'Dee' O'Brien 0-03, George O'Brien 0-02, John Connors 0-01 (f). Carnew Emmets: Enda Donohue 1-05 (4f), Timmy Collins 0-02, Don Hyland 0-02, Graham Keogh 0-01, Robert Lambert 0-01, Drew Brennan 0-01.
St Patrick's: Eoghan O'Mahony; Michael Connors, John Connors, Andrew Conway; Dale Quinn, Terry Healy, Christy Moorehouse; Eddie Kelly, George O'Brien; James Byrne, James 'Bonner' O'Brien, George 'Boo' O'Brien; George O'Connor, Andy O'Brien, John 'Dee' O'Brien. Subs: John O'Brien for G 'Boo' O'Brien, James O'Brien for G O'Connor, Denis 'Ta' O'Brien for C Moorehouse.
Carnew Emmets: Michael Collins; Willie Collins, Graham Keogh, Oisin Furlong; Aaron Kinsella, Padraig Doran, Daire Foley; Andrew Hughes, Enda Donohue; Robert Lambert, Dan Nolan, James Gregan; Drew Brennan, Don Hyland, Cormac Doyle. Subs: Liam Kennedy for D Nolan, Timmy Collins for J Gregan.
Referee: Jimmy Kelly (Knockananna)