St VINCENT'S hopes of claiming the Leinster Senior Club Hurling League Division 1 title were dashed as they succumbed to Kilkenny's Tullaroan by 1-17 to 3-8 in O'Moore Park Portlaoise last Sunday afternoon.
The Marino men will rue an indifferent first-half performance in which they lacked accuracy in front of goal and despite playing with the aid of a strong breeze, they entered the break trailing by 1-8 to 1-3.
However, it was a far more improved display by St Vincent's in the second-half as Tullaroan were put under concerted pressure but the ability of the Kilkenny representatives to tag on scores at critical times ensured they kept Vinnies at bay by the final whistle.
"It was a very good experience for the lads," acknowledged St Vincent's manager Damien Allen.
"Coming up against different opposition like this can only help with the players development and although we didn't get the result today, it was an enjoyable occasion for everyone involved with the team.
"We had quite a poor first-half where our shooting wasn't up to scratch and we left ourselves with a bit of a mountain to climb in the second-half.
"However, I was delighted with how the lads played after the break as we kept on going at them but we probably left ourselves with too much to do at half-time," added Allen.
St Vincent's enjoyed a fair degree of possession in the first-half but as the wides racked up, Tullaroan, featuring both Tommy Walsh and Padraig Walsh, took advantage to build a five point lead by half-time despite the concession of a goal to Tomás McGrane.
The experienced McGrane proved Vinnies' scorer-in-chief as he amassed 2-6 from full-forward with his second-half goal adding further momentum to his side's challenge.
Another three-pointer by substitute Kevin McMahon maintained the pressure of Tullaroan with McMahon's fellow replacement John Hetherton also making a valuable contribution upon his introduction as he struck two fine points.
Naturally, St Vincents' cause would have been helped by the presence of the missing Diarmuid Connolly as well as brothers Cian and Rian McBride but Allen was nonetheless pleased with his team's displays over the spring.
"It is very hard to get decent challenge matches at this time so to play against teams with different styles from different counties is very worthwhile from our point of view.
"There are very few quality games around so it proved valuable from that perspective as we prepare for the Dublin championship later in the year," said Allen.
St Vincent's: Paddy Clerkin; Paddy Donnelly, Willie Lowry, Ruairí Trainor; Davy Garland, Ronan Fallon, Frankie Power; Ian McLoughlin, Graham Giblin; Tom Connolly, Cathal Billings, Sean McBride; Brian Bolger, Tomás McGrane, Alan Moore.