Glenealy put a stop to the Bray march
GAA: Glenealy 2-12 Bray Emmets 0-11
In the end, it all boiled down to a simple case of one team wanting it more. Their five-in-a-row dream ruined in 2014 by the men of Bray and then sitting watching or listening to or deliberately avoiding two county finals without the red jerseys involved, these Glenealy boys were sore. As much as they might hate being second best, being an also ran is an abomination.
The opening 50 seconds of the Dacia Cars Senior Hurling Championship final told you all you needed to know about how this game was going to unfold.
Pure and utter frantic horsing for possession from Ciaran Fleming's throw in, Garry Byrne breaks and shovels the ball forward, Luke Maloney is out in front of Leighton Glynn, the Bray man hits the deck, bodies collide, John Henderson has the ball, he tries to offload just before being walloped by two Glenealy bodies, the ball flies through the air and Ciaran Fleming's arm is pointed in the opposite direction for a free to Glenealy for a throw ball.
The message was clear. You were going to get nothing easy here, lads. And if the fight wasn't well and truly up in your very core, you were in trouble. This was going to be a dog fight. And, so it came to be.
Glenealy opted to play against the wind. Was it ever going to be any other way? Throw down the gauntlet. Let them come, they'd say. Soft ground underfoot, filthy looking clouds overhead, a blustery, ill-tempered wind heading down to the town end, a vocal crowd, ideal conditions for a war.
Glenealy had named Robert Byrne at centre-half forward. The hurling men said he was there to do a job. He did it. Leighton Glynn might not have lit up the stage but Luke Maloney was too busy restricting the dual star to have any real input into the game for Bray.
Garry Byrne and Tommy Doyle were like demons. Warren Kavanagh was class at times, there's no other way to say it, he was class at times.
And then there was 'Bosco'. 'It's a free-takers job to score,' someone said after the game when the autopsy of this game was being performed. That's correct in the same way as it's a forward's job to score, a defender's job to defend and a goalkeeper's job to save the goals. It might be your job but that doesn't mean you're going to do it with the aplomb and the skill and the confidence that Jonathan O'Neill Snr did his job on Sunday afternoon. Nine points out of 2-12 as well as his overall display and he joins Warren Kavanagh in the 'class' department without a shadow of a doubt.
But nobody really starred, that's probably fair to say. Bray just couldn't rise to the challenge. Early knocks and that opening goal from Alan Driver with Glenealy playing against the wind and up the hill in Aughrim sowed rapid-growing seeds of doubt in the reigning champions' mind. Those seeds grew into weeds and those weeds prospered until Bray became tangled up and strangled and all they could do was watch as Glenealy relished and prospered in a dog fight that resembled those many battles they waged with Carnew in the early 2000s.
The quick witted and searing hurling of the Bray of the last three years was nowhere to be seen. First touches were off all over the place, striking was poor, 10 Bray wides to seven for Glenealy. Bray won 14 frees to Glenealy's 12. Glenealy had two goal chances. Bray had none.
Talk on the street after the Éire Óg game and the concession of those four goals was that the Glenealy goal was ripe for the picking. Not one goal chance did Bray create. Nine yellow cards, five for Glenealy, four for Bray. Could there have been reds. You would have to say quite possibly. But this was in the trenches stuff, the first 50 seconds told you that.
Bray did handle those 50 seconds well and sprinted out to a 0-05 to 0-02 lead after 11 minutes. Christy Moorehouse, Peter Walsh, Padraig Doyle, Christy again and Padraig Doyle after he dispossessed Jonathan O'Neill Snr left Tommy Carroll's men looking fairly healthy with two O'Neill converted frees the only Glenealy replies.
A hugely worrying development for the Bray management must have been the fact that their full-forward line of Tom Cash, Mikey Lee and Paul Cunningham were not getting a look at the ball and until Mikey Lee came out the field and grabbed a savage score after 25 minutes it's quite possible he hadn't even touched the ball.
But the 25th minute wasn't the problem for Bray, the 13th was. Warren Kavanagh gathers a Bray ball and wallops it down the field. It goes over the heads of a group of players and bounces into the hand of Leighton Glynn. Alan Driver has drifted into space in front of goal on the 21. Glynn flicks over a dainty hand pass, Driver gathers at the second attempt and with a short grip fires the ball into the turf in front of Eoin Mason and it comes off the Bray goalkeeper's leg and despite getting his hurl to it, the umpire has already reached for the green flag. Goal!
A goal against the wind was going to be massive in this game. It drove Glenealy on for the next 10 minutes. They had a wide from Garry Byrne and Jonathan O'Neill Jnr had a goal shot saved on the line after Leighton Glynn had fired over from out the field.
Moorehouse pointed a free after a chop from Garry Byrne on Enda Forde and then Mikey Lee roamed and fired over from out near the sideline after 25 minutes to make it 0-07 1-03 for the Bray men who would go to the dressing rooms knowing they would be facing into the wind for the second half.
Both teams may have had concerns about keeping 15 on the field after a schemozzle before the break left everyone in no doubt that cards were coming. Ahead of the restart, both Robert Byrne and Leighton Glynn were shown yellow cards and shortly afterwards Enan Glynn and Daire Henderson saw flashes of yellow also for an off the ball incident.
The battled raged for the next 20 minutes. Christy Moorehouse pointed a free won by substitute Ben McCormack off Emmet Byrne but Jonathan O'Neill stroked over a free before the veteran was guilty of an error that allowed Mikey Lee profit with a point from play.
Bray recorded their sixth wide of the game shortly after when Christy Moorehouse fired wide from a free but he made up for it when he was brought down by Warren Kavanagh when he split the posts to make it 0-10 to 1-04.
And then Glenealy upped the gears. Alan Driver from play and three Bosco frees gave Glenealy the lead. Bray's attack just wasn't functioning so Liam Benville was sent in for Paul Cunningham.
Enan Glynn from play pushed Glenealy out to a two-point lead and then the game was decided when Alan Driver pounced on an error in the Bray defence and the ball was in the Bray goal for the second time in this game and all of a sudden it was 2-09 to 0-10 with 51 minutes gone and Bray had a mountain to climb.
A Christy Moorehouse free after 53 minutes was Bray's last score of the game and Glenealy just powered home with two Bosco frees and a point from a 65 to make it 2-12 to 0-11.
Glenealy are back. Big time.
Glenealy: Keith Snell; Lee Kavanagh, Warren Kavanagh, Emmet Byrne; Garry Byrne, Danny Staunton, Tommy Doyle; John Manley, Jonathan O'Neill; Enan Glynn (0-1), Robert Byrne, Jamie Byrne, Jonathan O'Neill jnr (0-9f), Leighton Glynn (0-1), Alan Driver (2-1). Subs: Ruaidhri O'Neill for R Byrne (54min), James Manley for Jonathan O'Neill Jnr (59min), Gavin Weir for E Glynn (60min).
Bray Emmets: Eoin Mason; Sean Maloney, Peter Kiely, Peter Walsh (0-1); Daire Henderson, John Henderson, Enda Forde; Diarmuid Masterson, Luke Maloney; Christy Moorehouse (0-6f), Padraig Doyle (0-2), Marc Lennon; Tom Cash, Mikey Lee (0-2), Paul Cunningham. Subs: Ben McCormack for T Cash (H/T), Liam Benville for P Cunningham (49min), Liam Kenny for M Lennon (56min), Darragh Maloney for D Henderson (56min).
Referee: Ciaran Fleming (Baltinglass).