St Pat's close in as Senior and Intermediate leagues titles within reach
Senior Hurling League: St Patrick's2-11 Carnew Emmets 0-11
The hurlers of St Patrick's are close to securing a league double at Senior and Intermediate levels with wins over Carnew Emmets and Kilcoole on Saturday afternoon last although Michael Neary's men are likely to face finals after walk-overs in the Intermediate league has complicated things while sources within Wicklow GAA say that there will be a league final for the Senior crown.
In Dunbur Park at 4pm, the Senior squad put on a serious show of strength and passion when defeating James Hickey's Carnew without the services of county star Andy O'Brien, while over at the Goosebank from 5pm, the Intermediates walloped five goals past Kilcoole on their way to a 5-12 to 0-18 victory.
The victories show that both squads are unbeaten in their league campaigns and even if they slip up and are caught by the chasing pack in their last game they will still have beaten their closest rivals so head to head will be enough to see them claim the titles after two superb league campaigns that augur well for the approaching championships.
The Senior squad certainly had the edge on Carnew in glorious Dunbur Park on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. A goal in either half from full-forward George 'Bee' O'Brien proved to be the difference on the scoreboard but the Pat's men brought a notable zeal to this game and were very impressive throughout.
With both teams without the services of their county players given that the Christy Ring Cup gets underway this Sunday in Letterkenny, neither side will be getting too caught up in the result of this encounter but Michael Neary will the happier of the two managers without a shadow of a doubt given the increased scoring threat that will come when Andy O'Brien returns to the fray, whereas Carnew will reflect on only scoring two points from play over 60 minutes as a source of some concern.
Exchanges were frank and honest in the opening stages of this game with sharpshooters Padraig Doran and Jimzer O'Brien getting the scoring underway after fouls on Timmy Collins and John Connors.
A strong period of play from Carnew saw them react well to Jimzer O'Brien giving Pat's the lead to take a 0-4 to 0-2 lead by the ninth minute through two Padraig Doran frees and a super score from Drew Brennan.
St Pat's welcomed back Eoghan O'Mahony between the sticks and his early puck outs were a joy to watch as he pinged them left, right and centre much to the annoyance of the Carnew management. Eventually the Carnew players heeded the 'mark the space' call and cut out the avenues for O'Mahony's missiles.
A piece of exquisite skill created the opening goal of the game after 11 minutes. Carnew's Daire Foley had done really well in defence but was robbed by Chris Kavanagh. The ball broke and John Connors whipped a wicked groundstroke towards George 'Bee' O'Brien who plucked it beautifully at waist height before turning his man and walloping the ball past Michael Collins in the Carnew goal at the town end of Dunbur Park, 1-2 to 0-4, a lead they would never relinquish.
The remainder of the first half was a very enjoyable battle with points being exchanged and the action moving up and down the field. Pat's were doing well in most areas of the field but were coming undone after their scores when Carnew were winning frees from the resulting puck outs and Padraig Doran proving extremely accurate from a range of distances.
Pat's led by 1-8 to 0-8 at the break and powered ahead to a 2-9 to 0-8 lead after 10 minutes of the second half when a Jimzer O'Brien point was followed by George 'Bee' O'Brien's second goal - this one a groundstroke after a tussle in front of the Carnew goal.
James Hickey had made three substitutions in between those two scores, sending in Cormac Doyle, Mark Collins and Fionn Furlong in place of TJ Hennessy, Conal McCrea and Joseph Hughes.
Tensions rose on and off the field at this stage with several Carnew Emmets supporters incensed at the refereeing style of Con Keddy and he further distanced himself from their Christmas card list when he flashed a red card at Willie Collins following a bit of shoving and tugging in the middle of the field and then moved a sideline for Pat's forward to a freetaking position after Padraig Doran inquired as to how he had arrived at the decision to award the sideline to Pat's.
Two more Jimzer O'Brien points gave Pat's some breathing space at 2-11 to 0-8 but Padraig Doran's freetaking was of a very high standard and he reduced the deficit to five points at 2-11 to 0-11 but that was as close as James Hickey's men would get to Pat's as they put one hand on the league trophy thanks to this very impressive win.
The championship joust between these two will be something to behold.
Scorers - St Patrick's: Jimzer O'Brien 0-11 (7f), George 'Bee' O'Brien 2-0, Chris Kavanagh 0-1. Carnew Emmets: Padraig Doran 0-10 (9f), Drew Brennan 0-1.
St Patrick's: Eoghan O'Mahony; Andrew Conway, Gerry Connors, Mikey Griffin; Michael Connors, Dale Quinn, Eddie Kelly; Ricky Quinn, Terry Healy; Chris Kavanagh, John Connors, Jimzer O'Brien; John 'Dee' O'Brien, George 'Bee' O'Brien, Paddy Moorehouse. Subs: George 'Boo' O'Brien for J 'Dee' O'Brien, George O'Brien for J Connors.
Carnew Emmets: Michael Collins; Aaron Kinsella, Oisin Furlong, Daire Foley; John Walshe, Conal McCrea, John Doyle; Andrew Hughes, Willie Collins; Drew Brennan, Timmy Collins, Waye Kinsella; TJ Hennessy, Padraig Doran, Joe Hughes. Subs: Cormac Doyle for TJ Hennessy, Mark Collins for C McCrea, Fionn Furlong for J Hughes, Joseph Hughes for T Collins.
Referee: Con Keddy (Kilcoole)