Saturday 17 November 2018

Champs pass test

Gusserane 0-19 Horeswood 1-13

Kenneth Cahill of Gusserane survives this challenge from Horeswood substitute Dale Flynn
Kenneth Cahill of Gusserane survives this challenge from Horeswood substitute Dale Flynn
Gavin Sheehan of Gusserane tackles Declan Murphy (Horeswood)

Alan Aherne

Gusserane are now up on the pedestal as the team to beat in the Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football championship, but they hardly mind that after collecting the elusive title for the first time in 41 years last October.

Their first defence of that hard-earned crown took place in O'Kennedy Park, New Ross, on Sunday, and they came through an exciting derby with flying colours to suggest it will take a very good team to snatch the silverware from their grasp.

This Group B clash fizzed with intensity from the off, with some of the steam let off early on as a third-minute flashpoint led to bookings for John Roche and Horeswood duo Johnny Keating and Darren Shannon.

When the players settled down they proceeded to serve up a high-octane encounter that was more in keeping with a knockout tie in September than a season opener in April.

Gusserane will be pleased with several aspects of their performance, particularly as 17 points were scored from play despite the absence of sharpshooter Mark Rossiter and the limited involvement of Shane Cullen.

Adrian Flynn looked very dangerous and contributed six points from play, while Seán 'Mini' Ryan chipped in with four.

However, it was further back the field that the most eye-catching performance was delivered, as county Minor Gavin Sheehan produced an outstanding display in defence on his Senior debut.

While Horeswood were obviously very disappointed to lose, that buzz of old appears to be back among the Campile crew, and you can rest assured that manager Aidan O'Brien will get the very best out of his charges as the season progresses.

Flynn grabbed the first two points inside six minutes, converting a free after a foul on Páraic Conway and then availing of good vision from Kenneth Cahill to collect the ball in space on the right and double his tally.

Horeswood captain David Larkin came forward to open their account before Declan Murphy equalised from a free, but Conway restored the Gusserane lead with a glorious kick after cutting in from the left wing in the ninth minute.

Flynn availed of a weak Horeswood kick-out to widen the gap to 4-2, but a P.J. Banville free kept the challengers clipping at their heels before Mark O'Neill came up from corner-back to hook a golden goal chance to the right and wide for the eventual winners following a sublime Paul Wall pass.

There was great energy to the game as Kenneth Cahill and Seán Ryan widened the Gusserane lead to 0-6 to 0-3, only for the Banville brothers to assume centrestage in a very fruitful two-minute spell for Horeswood.

Eric was set up by Darren Shannon for a point before P.J. knocked over another free, and there was even better to come.

Defender Barry Hearn spotted a gap and embarked on a lung-bursting run down the middle before popping the ball to his left where Eric was on hand to direct it past Micheál Ryan for a 1-5 to 0-6 lead.

The response from Gusserane showed the maturity that comes automatically from going through a campaign unbeaten though. Certainly there was no question of panic as they hit back with four points on the bounce, courtesy of Kenneth Cahill, Adrian Flynn (free), Seán Ryan and Cillian Kehoe.

Still, it was anyone's game at the interval after late scores from Darren Shannon and Seán Stafford brought Horeswood back to parity (1-7 to 0-10), with the sides having also shared eight wides.

It remained tight, tense and exciting right up to a three-point burst from Gusserane between the 55th and 59th minutes which ultimately led to victory.

Prior to that the gap was never more than one point, and they had been level on another five occasions.

Indeed, in no fewer than five instances Gusserane edged back in front, only to be reeled in by Horeswood each and every time.

Graeme Cullen's point was cancelled out by a P.J. Banville free, and Adrian Flynn then made it 0-12 to 1-8 before Banville latched on to a clever Leigh O'Brien '45 to equalise yet again.

Liam Dillon had saved the day for Gusserane seconds earlier, scrambling the ball away from the goalmouth after a hit and hope kick by Darren Shannon was met with the fist of Eric Banville.

County colleagues Flynn and Banville (free) swapped further points, and when the on-fire Flynn registered again it was left to Declan Murphy to hit back (1-11 to 0-14).

Another young newcomer, Sam Wall, restored the Gusserane lead before Murphy levelled, but there was one big kick left in Gusserane.

It was kick-started by full-forward Paul Wall when he pointed after a Graeme Cullen run, and finally the holders managed to string two scores back-to-back as Sam Wall then set up Seán Ryan to establish a 0-17 to 1-12 lead.

It got even better when a move started by Gavin Sheehan deep in defence ended with a fisted point for Adrian Flynn.

Horeswood didn't lie down as David Larkin led by example with his second score, but Ryan played a one-two with Cillian Kehoe and stroked over the last point of a fascinating contest to finally decide this very enjoyable meeting of two well-prepared teams.

Gusserane: Micheál Ryan; Mark O'Neill, Liam Dillon, Jack O'Connor; Jack Burford, Gavin Sheehan, Graeme Cullen (capt., 0-1); John Roche, Cillian Kehoe (0-1); Adrian Flynn (0-8, 2 frees), Kenneth Cahill (0-2), Páraic Conway (0-1); Sam Wall (0-1), Paul Wall (0-1), Seán Ryan (0-4). Sub. - Shane Cullen for O'Connor, inj. (45).

Horeswood: Conor Swaine; Ryan Harris, Barry Hearn, Kevin Parker; Eddie Shiely, David Larkin (capt., 0-2), Seán Stafford (0-1); Paddy Murphy, Darren Shannon (0-1); Johnny Keating, Declan Murphy (0-3, 2 frees), Eric Banville (1-1); Leigh O'Brien, Jim Wall, P.J. Banville (0-5, 4 frees). Subs. - Seán Nolan for Wall, inj. (23), Dale Flynn for Stafford (37), Niall Collins for P. Murphy (57).

Referee: Damien Donovan (Volunteers).

New Ross Standard