HOLDERS Kilbrin survived a stern test from Freemount in a keenly contested opening round to the EPS Bison Duhallow Junior A Hurling Championship in Kanturk on Friday evening last.
The victors took the early initiative, built it into a commanding six points interval advantage and thereafter, they lived off that investment to stave off a series of Freemount recoveries.
Freemount turned in a typical strong performance after the break and a pair of goals helped cut the deficit to two points entering the closing stages. Crucially Kilbrin's response needed to be effective and it certainly was on regaining the upperhand to finish strongly.
The game offered fine passages of hurling particularly in the opening though inconsistency from frees and play registered a raft of wides at either end. Early on, a William Egan pointed 65 gave Kilbrin a lead that they never relinquished.
And the prospects for the defending champions brightened considerably after a smashing goal from impressive debutant Garrett Linehan. Though Freemount replied from a Ben Carroll point, the initiative remained with Kilbrin.
The winners all round solidity was based upon the play of Michéal O'Riordan, Terry Cantillon and Gene Sullivan with Kieran Sheahan and minor Linehan impressing in attack. Trailing by six, Freemount answered with a goal by Aidan O'Flynn.
Kilbrin shrugged off the setback, Linehan along with Eoin and Kieran Sheahan pointing and a 1-10 to 1-4 interval advantage was a fair indicative of the supremacy enjoyed by the favourites. And Kilbrin restarted promisingly, Thomas O'Reilly and Kieran Sheahan adding points.
Freemount weren't found wanting in terms of resolve, roaring back into contention from the backing of Mark and Jason Ballentyne along with Padraig Curtin and O'Flynn. Their hopes brightened from Denis Curtin placing O'Flynn to goal.
Kilbrin answered positively thanks to points to Noel O'Callaghan and Sheahan. Still Freemount remained in touch, good work by Jason Ballentyne creating the space for Mike Murphy to blast home.
Hopes of Freemount pulling the contest out of the fire were extinguished in the closing minutes, Kilbrin's strength in depth confirmed with late points from substitutes Liam Daly and Shane Crowley.
KILBRIN: P O'Callaghan; T O'Riordan, G O'Sullivan, T Cantillon; M O'Riordan, D Sheahan, W Egan 0-1'65; C Carroll, D O'Sullivan; K Sheahan 0-7(0-4f), T O'Reilly 0-1, G Linehan 1-2; E Sheahan 0-2, N O'Callaghan 0-2, S O'Reilly. Subs. S Crowley 0-1 for Carroll(42), L Daly 0-1 for S O'Reilly(55), P Aherne for O'Sullivan(61).
FREEMOUNT: J Morrissey; P Nagle, M Curtin, S Duggan; M O'Regan, M Ballentyne, S O'Mullane 0-1; J Ballentyne 0-3(0-1'65, 0-1f), P Curtin; K Broderick, A O'Flynn 2-1(0-1f), M Murphy 1-1; B Carroll 0-1, D Curtin, A Ballentyne. Sub. S Fehin for A Ballentyne(56).
Referee: M J O'Keeffe(Dromtariffe).
MILLSTREET battened down the hatches to brave a late comeback from Banteer in the EPS Bison Duhallow Junior A Hurling Championship in Kilbrin on Saturday evening last.
Despite the closeness of scores for long stages, an epic failed to materialise yet as the game aged, there was a hardened determination about Millstreet's intent. At key stages, the victors put together a performance full of honest endeavour and little coherence.
Opponents, Banteer, couldn't be faulted for effort nor application. However last season's finalists will bemoan their failure to translate first half territorial dominance into scores, significantly shooting 13 wides in a wasteful streak.
With the scores on level terms on seven occasions for close on 40 minutes, two evenly matched sides settled down to offer competitive fare. Millstreet edged ahead in the opening quarter with points from Mark Ellis, Paddy Healy and Michael Vaughan.
Banteer held a facility to answer, their all round play boosted by the efforts of Kevin Tarrant, James Twohig, Brendan Withers and Denis Roche. Though points from Eamon O'Flynn and Denis Mannix nudged Banteer ahead, erratic shooting allowed Millstreet stay in touch and flags to Vaughan and Ellis squared the contest at 0-6 apiece by the interval.
Another exchange of points upon the restart kept the issue wide open before Millstreet established momentum thanks to the promptings of Ger McCarthy, Ellis, Vaughan, Beircheart O'Connor and substitute Kevin Crowley.
A productive spell yielded Millstreet rich dividends on points to Crowley, Vaughan and David McCaul that helped secure a 0-11 to 0-7 lead. Goal chances were at a premium , Banteer thankful to custodian Kevin Roche on brilliantly denying Ellis in a one-on-one situation.
That kept Banteer in the contest and refusing to throw in the towel saw a pair of Denis Roche points and another to Withers cut the deficit to the minimum. Late on Banteer searched for a reprieve, Withers sought a last ditch winner, his effort to goal from a 20 metre free blocked by a wall of Millstreet defenders.
MILLSTREET: D Twomey; T Kiely, A Murphy, P Randles; D Sheehan, G McCarthy, D McCaul 0-1; M Ellis 0-3f, M Vaughan 0-4(0-2f); B O'Connor, P Healy 0-1, K Sheehan; D Crean 0-1, T Collins 0-1, M O'Connor. Subs. P Sheehan for Kiely(27), K Crowley 0-1 for M O'Connor (ht).
BANTEER: K Roche; B O'Keeffe, K Tarrant, D Dennehy; S Twomey, D Kearney, J Twohig; D Mannix 0-1, P Cremin; D Murphy 0-2, B Withers 0-3(0-2f), E O'Flynn 0-1; D Roche 0-3, P O'Keeffe, D McAulliffe 0-1. Subs. M Kearney for Cremin(35), J Sexton for P O'Keeffe(47), D Buckley for McAulliffe(53).
Referee: S Stokes(Tullylease)