Knockbridge have the goal-den touch
Senior Hurling Championship: Knockbridge 2-12 Naomh Moninne 0-16
These two teams played out a draw in the league recently and another close encounter was expected when they met in the opening round of the Senior Championship in Darver last Thursday night.
The town outfit led the holders of the Paddy Kelly Cup by one point at the break before extending their lead to five on 41 minutes.
However, Knockbridge showed why they are favourites to retain their title, and thanks to a brace of goals mid-way through the second half they managed to hold out for this hard-earned victory.
Midfielders Robert Wallace (Knockbridge) and Tadhg Moore opened their sides' accounts with good points from play.
Further points from Darren Geoghegan (2), Graham Harrington and new signing Conor Clancy had the black and Amber outfit three points to the good 0-5 to 0-2 after 10 minutes.
Points from full forward Gavin Kerrigan and David Kettle reduced the deficit to one, but their opponents were good value again for a four-point lead on 20 minutes thanks to three successive pointed frees from Geoghegan.
It was back to one point as Shane Fennell fired over three in a row and the sides went on to share the next four points, Moninne's last effort a good point from play from the hard-working Padraic Fallon as his side led by 0-10 to 0-9 at the break.
Knockbridge accounted for two early wides on the resumption as Moninne took advantage, grabbing four points of their own from Graham Harrington and Geoghegan (three frees) to lead by 0-14 to 0-9 on 41 minutes.
Moninne keeper Donal Connolly managed to deflect a Fennell free over the crossbar and Knockbridge would soon be level as Gavin Kerrigan soloed through unchallenged before firing past Connolly for the opening goal on 45 minutes.
A foul on James Costello give Fennell the opportunity again to tie up matters with his eight point of the match.
A long-range free from Ronan Byrne was picked up by David Kettle as he netted his side's second goal on 50 minutes from close range, 2-11 to 0-14.
Full forward Barry Doyle won his side a much-needed 20-metre free which Geoghegan struck over, but Moninne then suffered a setback as they lost Tadhg Moore to a second yellow card.
In the time that remained, top scorers Fennell and Geoghegan exchanged late points, but it was the village outfit who were relieved to hear the referee's final whistle as they held on for the win.
KNOCKBRIDGE: James King; Ricky McKeown, Ronan Byrne, Stephen Hoey; Andrew Smith, Conor Kerrigan, Stephen Kettle 0-1, James Costello, Robert Wallace; David Kettle 1-1, Peter Brennan, Sean Marry; Gerry Mc Keown, Gavin Kerrigan 1-1, Shane Fennell 0-9 (6f). Sub: Gareth Hall for G Kerrigan (56min).
NAOMH MONINNE: Donal Connolly; Stephen Rafferty, Chris Lennon, James Murphy; Mattie Fee, Oisin Drumm, Paul Challoner; Darren O Hanrahan, Tadhg Moore 0-1; Darren Geoghegan 0-11 (8f, 1 '65), Padraic Fallon 0-1, Conor Clancy 0-1; Andrew Mackin, Barry Doyle, Graham Harrington 0-2. Sub: Conor O Droma for D O Hanrahan (60min).
REFEREE: Jim O Rourke (Monaghan)
• In the second match in Darver, last year's beaten finalists St Fechin's brushed aside the newly-formed Pearse Og/Mattock Rangers combination by 4-15 to 3-6.
Darver will again be the venue this Thursday night for both games in round two of the Senior Championship. First up at 7.15pm, Naomh Moninne take on St Fechin's, followed by Knockbridge against Pearse Og/Mattock Rangers at 8.30pm.