'Rocks extend winning record
SHAMROCKS responded best to a swift rise in temperature that had nothing to do with the weather in Blackwater on Saturday last when they stretched their domestic unbeaten run to ten games and inflicted a first Group A defeat on Ballygarrett in The Courtyard Ferns Intermediate hurling championship in the process.
The game was finely poised with twelve minutes left, with the Enniscorthy men ahead by 1-7 to 0-8 when a brief flashpoint was diffused with a few yellow cards. The disagreement was harmless enough, but it raised the dander of the 'Rocks and when play resumed they hit two crucial scores and never looked back.
First Harry Goff picked off a point, and even better was to follow in the 50th minute when Maurice Casey grabbed a long George Jacob free and crashed home his second goal to finally put some daylight between the sides.
Ballygarrett's excellent county Minor Cathal Dunbar did convert his second line ball of the half from the right flank, but late points from Bob Jacob (free) and Goff rounded off another solid win for Shamrocks whose winning sequence started at the same venue on May 18 of last year when Monageer-Boolavogue were beaten in the Intermediate 'A' championship. That title was secured later in the season against the same opponents, and the only blip since was a loss to Ballinamere from Offaly in the Leinster Club championship.
Shamrocks have been unstoppable on the local scene though, and this was their second game running to concede less than ten points which is a tribute to a strong defence despite the absence of regular Philip Freeman through injury.
Having said that, Ballygarrett were extremely wasteful in the third quarter in particular, and their 15 wides in total included six from frees.
The absence of any pitch line markings drew unfavourable comment from both clubs as well as referee Damien Donovan, and rightly so.
Two early Stephen Redmond points for Ballygarrett had been cancelled out by John O'Connor and Jack Moorehouse when the key score of the first-half arrived in the eleventh minute. The impressive O'Connor did all of the hard work, making a good catch under pressure and driving through the middle before handpassing to his left and leaving Maurice Casey with plenty of time to rattle the net.
However, Ballygarrett did well to draw level with the next three points from Redmond ('65) and midfield partners Darren Morris and Colm Kinsella before two late Bob Jacob frees left Shamrocks with a 1-4 to 0-5 interval lead. They were lucky though on the stroke of half-time when a foul by Mick Weafer on Cathal Dunbar resulted in a penalty, with Redmond's effort saved by centre-back George Jacob.
The Gorey District side got back on level terms inside three minutes of the re-start thanks to Dunbar and a Redmond '65 after Jamie Dagg made a fine save to deny Colm Kinsella a goal.
Ballygarrett hit four wides while Anthony Wallace sandwiched a point in between at the other end, with Shamrocks making better use of less chances.
Jim Jacob stretched their lead with his first touch but it was still all to play for after an exchange of scores between Dunbar (line ball) and Bob Jacob. However, that second goal from Casey was the clincher for his team and energetic manager Paul Gahan who covered as much ground as any of his players.
Shamrocks: Jamie Dagg; Barry Dobbs, Mick Weafer (capt.), Emmet Quirke; Lar McDonald, George Jacob, Karl Cullen; Bob Jacob (0-4, 3 frees), Seán Wildes; Jack Moorehouse (0-1), Anthony Wallace (0-1), Harry Goff (0-2); Graham Denton, John O'Connor (0-1), Maurice Casey (2-0). Sub. - Jim Jacob (0-1) for Denton (39).
Ballygarrett: Mark Doyle; Harry Byrne, Eddie Redmond (capt.), John Doyle; Michael Kinsella, Patrick Naughter, Robert Dunbar; Colm Kinsella (0-1), Darren Morris (0-1); Kevin Jordan, Stephen Redmond (0-4, 2 '65s), James Gahan; Cormac Moore, Jimmy Murphy, Cathal Dunbar (0-3, 2 line balls). Sub. - Seamus Dempsey for Jordan (56).
Referee: Damien Donovan (St. John's).