Playing with greater flair, Rapparees emerged with a thoroughly-deserved five-point victory over Monageer-Boolavogue in this All-County Hurling League Division 4 semi-final at Bellefield on Friday, writes Brendan Furlong.
Having played with a stiff breeze in the first-half, Rapparees struggled for scores early on, being mainly reliant on the accuracy of Barry Nolan. Their District neighbours also showed little initiative in attack, with their finishing not on par with some of their outfield play.
After Diarmuid Fenlon and Barry Nolan had exchanged pointed frees inside the opening five minutes, the same players continued to trade points. Nolan added two further points from placed balls, one '65 along with a free, while Seánie O'Gorman also got in on the scoring with a neat point, leaving the locals leading by 0-5 at 0-2 at the end of the opening quarter.
However, two Diarmuid Fenlon pointed frees kept the opposition in touch, but with the town side finishing the half strongly and adding points through Nolan (free), Ed Tobin and Tom Ryan, they went in with a four-point interval lead (0-8 to 0-4).
Rapparees continued to dominate on the resumption, adding points through a Nolan free and Ed Tobin to extend their lead to 0-10 to 0-4, before the opposition opened their second-half account through a Peter Mernagh point.
Nine minutes into the second-half the Rapparees got the crucial breakthrough. An Anthony Peare lobbing ball broke into the path of full-forward Tom Ryan who fired low to the net, giving his side a 1-10 to 0-7 lead. While Monageer-Boolavogue tried hard to get back into the game, Rapparees remained the dominant force.
Rapparees: Jim O'Connor; Dillon Redmond, John Barron, Patrick O'Shea; Tommy Foley, Mark Redmond, Peter O'Sullivan; Lenny Connolly, Anthony Russell; Seánie O'Gorman (0-1), Ed Tobin (0-2), Anthony Peare; Aaron Ronan, Tom Ryan (1-1), Barry Nolan (0-7, 3 frees, 1 '65). Subs. - Fran O'Gorman for Foley, Dale Donohoe for O'Gorman, Lee Murphy (0-1) for Peare, Timmy Dwyer for Ronan.
Monageer-Boolavogue: Morgan Gahan; Seán Doran, Ray O'Brien, Dermot Breen; Denis Walsh, Paul Gahan, Shane Gahan; Seán McCabe, Darren Fenlon; Robbie Donnelly (0-1), Patrick Walsh (0-1), Seán Roche; Diarmuid Fenlon (0-5 frees), James Gahan, Peter Mernagh (0-3). Subs. - Ian Holmes for D. Walsh, Brian O'Loughlin for M. Gahan.
Referee: Aiden O'Brien (Cloughbawn).