Crossabeg-Ballymurn 1-15 Faythe Harriers 0-13
BRODY MURPHY wasted no time whatsoever in making a massive impact as Crossabeg-Ballymurn secured a precious and fully-merited first victory of the campaign over Faythe Harriers in Group A of the Pettitt’s Senior hurling championship in Bellefield on Sunday.
A half-time replacement for Andrew Butler, he swept a ground stroke to the net a mere 16 seconds in to give his side a 1-5 to 0-7 lead and, just as importantly, the impetus they required to claim a noteworthy scalp.
The quality of the contest didn’t come remotely close to matching the top-class fare witnessed in the first game at the Bellefield venue, but that won’t matter in the slightest to the 2020 Intermediate champions who also ran St. Anne’s close during the week.
They still had a lot of work to do entering the last quarter, as they trailed by 0-12 to 1-8, but five points on the trot between the 46th and 57th minutes left a very disappointing Harriers outfit in all sorts of bother.
Mark Byrne nailed four vital frees for the eventual winners in that crucial spell, while goalscorer Brody Murphy chipped in with the other after a good tackle on Alex Lynch who had a busier week than most – playing championship hurling on Tuesday and Sunday, and getting married on Friday!
When substitute Conall Ó Crualaoich finally responded to end a 14-minute scoreless spell for the town team, they still entertained hope of salvaging something from the game, and Lee Chin was moved forward from centre-back with that goal in mind.
However, Crossabeg-Ballymurn kept their composure and picked off two late clinching points, with Oisín Foley intercepting a Harriers pass and firing over before Mark Byrne converted his eighth successful free.
They were in survival mode at the finish and never flinched, with David Kehoe clearing one late Harriers free before another resulted in a block on a Josh Sheil shot and a tame wide in the follow-up from Kyle Scallan.
The Harriers scoring statistics make for fairly grim reading, and also sum up why they lost this game. Their six starting forwards managed a combined two points from play between them, with the first – from veteran Jim Berry – not arriving until the 39th minute after a Scallan pass.
Glen Murphy-Butler added the second but without the contribution of Lee Chin – who hit two early beauties from long distance along with seven frees – they would have been in an even worse situation.
Their 0-7 to 0-5 half-time lead didn’t look very convincing after playing with the wind, and the decision to opt for a two-man full-forward line with Josh Sheil left to drift outfield certainly didn’t yield dividends.
The best spell for the Harriers arrived in the first eight minutes when midfielder Conall Clancy assisted Lee Chin in the scoring stakes as they moved into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead.
The centre-back sold an outrageous dummy before launching the opener between the posts, and his second strike from play after a converted free was also from deep inside his own half.
A key moment arrived in the twelfth minute when the speedy Clancy soloed in from the right but fired across goal and wide at the Bellefield Road end.
It was the wake-up call Crossabeg-Ballymurn needed, and they would have been happy to be only two points adrift at the break after facing the wind.
A mere four of the twelve points registered in that first-half arrived from open play, with Shane O’Rourke getting the only one for the eventual winners in the 13th minute after those earlier strikes from Chin (two) and Clancy.
A Chin free left the sides level after that opportunist goal by Brody Murphy, but Oisín Foley fired over a neat point before Chin equalised once more.
Ronan Devereux latched on to the break from Noel Scallan’s puck-out to make it 1-7 to 0-9, and Oisín Foley then set up Mark Byrne for his sole score from play.
However, when Jim Berry and Glen Murphy-Butler points were followed by another Chin free, the Harriers held a 0-12 to 1-8 advantage with 17 minutes left.
They were outscored by 0-7 to 0-1 though as Crosssabeg-Ballymurn surged emphatically for home, and it won’t be getting any easier for the losers as they face Naomh Éanna next in the same venue on Saturday.
As for the victors, they will fancy their chances of building on this big win when they play Cloughbawn on the same double bill.
Crossabeg-Ballymurn: Noel Scallan; Aaron Cummins, David Kehoe, Bill Eviston; Conor Devereux, Pádraig Foley (capt., 0-1 free), Matthew Sludds; Ronan Devereux (0-1), Jack Fortune; Mark Byrne (0-9, 8 frees), Shane O’Rourke (0-1), Oisín Foley (0-2); Andrew Butler, James White, Mark O’Connor. Subs. – Brody Murphy (1-1) for Butler (HT), Joe Kelly for Sludds, temp. (37-40), Kelly for White (49), Butler for O’Rourke (60+3).
Faythe Harriers: James Henebery; Alex Lynch, Brendan Mulligan, Danny Walsh; Liam Cassin, Lee Chin (capt., 0-9, 7 frees), Colm Heffernan; Conall Clancy (0-1), Kyle Scallan; Eoin Roche, Jim Berry (0-1), Glen Murphy-Butler (0-1); Josh Sheil, Richie Lawlor, Darby Purcell. Subs. – Con Ó Donnagáin for Cassin, inj. (41), Conall Ó Crualaoich (0-1) for Roche (49).
Referee: Gearóid McGrath (St. James’).