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Michael O’Leary the star as Abbeydorney hold champs Kilmoyley in dogged affair

Sides level eight times in the second half

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Michael O'Leary in action against Kilmoyley's Jordan Brick during their first round contest in the County Senior Hurling Championship in Austin Stack Park Photo by Domnick Walsh / Eye Focus

Michael O'Leary in action against Kilmoyley's Jordan Brick during their first round contest in the County Senior Hurling Championship in Austin Stack Park Photo by Domnick Walsh / Eye Focus

Michael O'Leary in action against Kilmoyley's Jordan Brick during their first round contest in the County Senior Hurling Championship in Austin Stack Park Photo by Domnick Walsh / Eye Focus

kerryman

COUNTY SHC GROUP 2 ROUND 1

Abbeydorney 0-15

Kilmoyley 0-15

Even if the quality never rose above the mediocre for the most part, there was something undeniably tense and enthralling about the way the end game of this first round contest played itself out. 

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Both teams could stake a claim to having deserved the victory, more so Abbeydorney we would argue. At the same time, though, Kilmoyley showed that typical grit to secure a share of the spoils despite not playing at all as well as we know they can. 

Such is Kilmoyley’s track record that when Maurice O’Connor fired over a brilliant free from the halfway line deep into injury time – in the 64th minute – one could easily imagine the Naomh Páirc Erc men doing as they do and digging it out against the odds.

All credit to O’Dorney, however, they showed that they’re not for turning this year, going straight down the other end to claim an equalising free, converted with typical aplomb by Michael O’Leary.

In the end a fair result on a difficult night for hurling, both teams leaving Stack Park with plenty to work on. Grist to the mill for men like John Meyler and John Mulqueen.

All in all this was a game that took a little while to warm up and get going, Considering the dreadful weather conditions, and an early delay of about three minutes for an injury to James Godley, that was somewhat understandable.

Nevertheless, it was a game which lacked the vim and verve one ordinarily associates with the annual joust for the Neilus Flynn Cup. Kilmoyley certainly didn’t look like hitting their straps at any stage in the first half, while Abbeydorney struggled early on to hit their mark.

In the first half alone the black and amber men stuck ten wides – eight of which were clear scoring opportunities – and with each wide it seemed to dent their confidence and suck a little more life out of proceedings.

Much to O’Dorney’s credit, however, they didn’t allow that get them down. Nor did Michael O’Leary making his return to championship action for the first time since 2020.

Indeed, the big man after a couple of early misses, soon found his range and once he did it was a rising tide lifting all boats. Up to then the sheer scale of Abbeydorney’s misses flattered Kilmoyley.

To be fair players like Barry O’Sullivan and Jordan Brick took their scores well, but for yellow-clad reigning county and provincial champions to be five clear after sixteen minutes, six points to one, was almost certainly flattering.

Kilmoyley, possibly because of the early loss of Godley, didn’t look as solid at the back as one is accustomed to seeing and, once O’Dorney got to grips with the game – surely not a coincidence that they improved as rain eased off – the turn around in fortunes on the scoreboard was striking.

O’Leary got his first of the day on 22 minutes from a placed ball to bring it back to a four point game – 0-2 to 0-5 – and shot an additional three on the spin to level it up by 27 minutes.

When Jack Hannon pointed a minute later to give O’Dorney the lead it was no less than they deserved, especially when a goal-scoring chance for David Egan (foiled by John Brendan O’Halloran in the Kilmoyley net) is taken into consideration.

At 0-6 to 0-5 at the break it was a finely poised proposition, albeit that whatever breeze there was to come in the second half was in O’Dorney’s favour as Michael O’Leary demonstrated with a number of long-distance frees after the break.

Young Robert Monahan levelled the tie right at the start of the second half as tit-for-tat contest developed with the sides level eight times in the second half alone at 0-6, 0-8, 0-9, 0-10, 0-11, 0-13, 0-14 and 0-15.

At the end of it all we’re left with two sides with a lot of improving to do. O’Dorney certainly need a to get a few more scorers on the board, it’s unsustainable to be so reliant on Mike O’Leary (he delivered 75% of his side’s scores), while Kilmoyley just need to sharpen up all-over.

We suspect, however, that they’re just where John Meyler wants them to be at this stage of the season. In a group with Dr Crokes they’re highly likely to advance, so they’ve got time on their side.

Abbeydorney, meanwhile, are in a similar position. They face Dr Crokes in Tralee on next Saturday evening. Win that game and a place in the quarter-finals at least is theirs.

They’ve more to find. They’ve got every chance of finding it.

ABBEYDORNEY: Nigel Roche, Mikey Clifford, Jedd Maunsell, Kieran Dineen, Jack Sheehan, James O’Connor, Niall O’Mahoney, Stevie O’Sullivan,  Tomás Ó hÁiniféin, Brendan O’Leary (0-1), Michael O’Leary (0-12, 10f), Daniel O’Leary, Jack Hannon (0-1), Ronan Donovan, David Egan (0-1) Subs: Jack Parker for J Maunsell, 49, PJ Keane for T Ó hÁiniféin, 54, Keith O’Connell for J Hannon, 56

KILMOYLEY: John Brendan O’Halloran, Dónal Kennedy, James Godley, Philip Maunsell, Colman Savage, Dougie Fitzell, Tom Murnane (0-1), Kieran McCarthy, Paudie O’Connor, Jordan Brick (0-4), Robert Monahan (0-1f), Barry O’Sullivan (0-1), Maurice O’Connor (0-5, 4f), Ronan Walsh (0-1), Dáire Nolan (0-1) Subs: John Godley for James Godley (inj), 3, Adrian Royle (0-1) for R Monahan, 38

REFEREE: Michael Sexton (Limerick)


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