KILMORE 2-22 RAPPAREES 1-8
TOM BYRNE at midfield and Aaron Goff from the left wing brought the first-half power as Mark Roche’s Kilmore moved a step closer to possibly atoning for last year’s county final heartache when dominating Rapparees’ second-string at rain-drenched Oylegate on Saturday.
The seasiders will now seek to repeat last year’s group stage success over Davidstown-Courtnacuddy (2-15 to 1-15) when the sides meet again in the semi-final of the Permanent TSB Junior hurling championship, with Kilmore looking to build upon their outright Junior ‘A’ glory from 2020.
Rapparees, runners-up in this competition in both 2017 and 2018 and semi-finalists two years ago, never really were in the running here after a fourth-place finish in qualifying.
Kilmore, who topped their section after just one defeat, were without Paddy Byrne up front as he served a one-game suspension.
But, despite the challenging conditions, the green and whites settled into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead inside nine minutes with Aaron Goff growing particularly prominent with a couple of scores, while midfielder Páraic Reville and free-taker Tom White also registered.
Wing-back Anthony Peare had hit back for Rapparees with the superb third score of the tie from distance.
But with Tom Byrne and Aaron Goff in such lively form, Kilmore continued to assert. Goff gathered a delivery from his twin, Shane, and cut in from the left, with Conor Moore providing a decoy run, to rifle to the net in the 14th minute (1-4 to 0-1).
Rapparees were doing everything to try to raise a challenge, and they pegged it back to 1-4 to 0-3 by the 17th minute as Diarmuid Byrne slotted over from the left before midfielder Conor Farrell profited from the subsequent puck-out.
Byrne also pointed on 20 minutes, but that came amid a decisive Kilmore surge which opened up a 1-12 to 0-6 chasm at half-time.
Aaron Goff led the surge with three quick scores while free-taker White (three), Conor Moore and Tom Byrne also helped sweep them clear.
Conor Farrell and Jack Byrne had narrowed it back to 1-9 to 0-6 as Rapparees battled defiantly, but they fell away badly in the second-half while Kilmore extended into a commanding 1-20 to 0-8 lead by the 46th minute.
Páraic Reville was back on the scoresheet as Tom Byrne (two), Dean Farrell, Aaron Goff (two) and White (two frees) dwarfed Rapparees responses from Conor Farrell (free) and John Murphy.
There was a bright moment for the Enniscorthy town men when Caolan Carty sunk a 47th-minute goal. Defender and captain Cathal Ryan fed Neil McCrea who muscled in by a couple of defenders from the left corner and released for Jordan Murphy to find Carty for a smart finish (1-20 to 1-8).
But John Barron’s charges couldn’t mount any surge as Kilmore instead consolidated safe passage.
Points from White (free) and substitute Cian Murphy-Reddy sandwiched White lashing home a 58th-minute penalty forced by Chis O’Connor, although Rapparees ‘keeper Gary Murphy almost kept it out.
Despite the outcome, there was joy spreading through the Rapparees dug-out as news filtered through that regular defender Brian Ronan’s partner had given birth to a baby boy – the first grandchild of former Rathnure and Rapparees ace Lar and his wife, Patti.
Kilmore: Graham Mernagh; Shane Goff, Stevie Cousins (capt.), Aaron Kielthy; Denis Kenny, Seán Carley, Daithí Moore; Páraic Reville (0-2), Tom Byrne (0-2); Tom White (1-10, 0-7 frees, 1-0 pen.), Dean Farrell (0-1), Aaron Goff (1-5); Chris O’Connor, Paul Murphy, Conor Moore (0-1). Subs. – Nathan Bates for Murphy (41), Dillon Crowley for Kielthy (47), Ryan Sinnott for Reville, inj. (50), Cian Murphy-Reddy (0-1) for Carley (53), Josh Berry for O’Connor (56).
Rapparees: Gary Murphy; Cathal Ryan (capt.), Nathan O’Connor, Ronan Kervick; Anthony Peare (0-1), Jack Byrne (0-1), Brian Cronin; Conor Farrell (0-2), Conor Ronan (0-1 free); John Murphy (0-1), John Ryan, Ed Tobin; Diarmuid Byrne (0-2), Neil McCrea, Caolan Carty (1-0). Subs. – Christopher Doyle for Peare (35), Jordan Murphy for Tobin (41), Mikey Dempsey for Ronan (50), Niall Kehoe for D. Byrne (56), Billy Redmond for J. Ryan (57).
Referee: Shane Quinn (Ballygarrett).