Cloughbawn 1-11 Rathgarogue-Cushinstown 0-10
IT WAS a trying weekend for the Cloughbawn club, but at least a determined showing by their second-string ensured they were spared the horror of a second relegation in the space of just 18 hours on Saturday.
The accuracy of experienced former Senior campaigner Joey Lawler was vital in securing a four-point win over neighbours Rathgarogue-Cushinstown in O’Kennedy Park, New Ross, with their status as participants in the Permanent TSB Junior ‘A’ hurling championship assured as a result.
And maybe they were due a bit of luck – not that it makes up for what occurred on Friday – because it arrived with some questionable timekeeping by referee Jimmy Heavey.
Immediately after blowing for full-time, he was approached independently by a Rathgarogue-Cushinstown mentor and spectator, with both asking in a reasonable manner if he might have made a genuine error by calling a halt too soon.
I felt the exact same, because my stopwatch – started at the second-half throw-in and not halted at any stage thereafter – read 29 minutes and 16 seconds at the precise moment the final whistle arrived.
The referee was adamant that he hadn’t made a mistake, but it seems odd that three other timekeepers – all located in different places and with no prior inter-action – would concur that the game had finished ahead of schedule.
In fairness to Cloughbawn, it had nothing to do with them and, equally, there had been no clear indication in the second-half play that Rathgarogue-Cushinstown would turn the four-point deficit around.
However, they were entitled to have that chance at least, and the ending left a somewhat sour taste as they return to Junior ‘B’ for the first time since their county final loss to Oylegate-Glenbrien in 2018 when they moved up afterwards.
Cloughbawn’s main men were both located in their half-back line, with Darren Mevlit and Gavin Murphy in outstanding form throughout.
Aaron Byrne had drilled a shot across goal and wide just before their all-important major did arrive in the eighth minute, with Joey Lawler finishing a Paul Foley cross to create a 1-1 to nil advantage.
Rathgarogue-Cushinstown gradually settled and drew level with points from Eric Cummins and Aodhán Slattery (three, two frees), but Cloughbawn were never headed again after Mikey Fleming restored their lead in the 28th minute.
Six additional minutes were played after long stoppages for injuries to Rathgarogue-Cushinstown pair Fionn Slattery and Darragh Roche, with three points in that spell from Joey Lawler (two frees) drawing one reply from Cummins to leave Cloughbawn clear at the interval by 1-7 to 0-5.
The leaders were reduced to 14 men just three minutes into the new half when midfielder Davin Murphy was red-carded for a challenge that forced Seán Kehoe off with head and eye wounds.
However, that numerical advantage only lasted eight minutes for Rathgarogue-Cushinstown before their best forward, Eric Cummins, was also dismissed for a late pull.
In between their wing-back, Tomás McGrath, had prevented a likely goal with a super hook to deny Paul Foley, and Cloughbawn still couldn’t relax when they led by 1-9 to 0-9 entering the last quarter.
Lawler converted his fifth free before hard-working substitute Garreth Murphy scored a peach of a point, and all Rathgarogue-Cushinstown could muster before that sudden finish was a converted Aodhán Slattery placed ball.
Cloughbawn: Josh Buckley; Liam Kehoe, Tomás Furlong (capt.), Nathan McDonald; Darren Mevlit, Gavin Murphy, David Doyle-Murphy; Davin Murphy, Luke Cummins (0-1); Aaron Byrne, Mikey Fleming (0-1), Thomas Foley (0-1); James Flood, Paul Foley (0-1), Joey Lawler (1-6, 0-5 frees). Sub. – Garreth Murphy (0-1) for Byrne (43).
Rathgarogue-Cushinstown: Fionn Slattery; John O’Keeffe, Adam Bookle, Luke O’Dwyer; Tomás McGrath, Chris Kent, Donal Porter; Ian Kennedy (capt.), Aaron Ryan; Oisín Mac Eochaidh, Seán Kehoe, Eoghan Devereux; Eric Cummins (0-3), Darragh Roche, Aodhán Slattery (0-6, 5 frees). Subs. – Mark Carroll for Roche, inj. (25), Pat Kehoe (0-1) for O’Dwyer (HT), Diarmuid Somers for S. Kehoe, inj. (35).
Referee: Jimmy Heavey (Geraldine O’Hanrahans).