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Bray find the way past Reds in tough IHC semi-final

Cash and Lambe lead the charge against Glenealy

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Bray's full-back Eoin Mason in full control of the situation in the IHC semi-final against Glenealy in Aughrim.

Bray's full-back Eoin Mason in full control of the situation in the IHC semi-final against Glenealy in Aughrim.

Glenealy's Alan Conyard keeps his eye on the ball as he comes under pressure from Bray defenders.

Glenealy's Alan Conyard keeps his eye on the ball as he comes under pressure from Bray defenders.

Glenealy's Lee Kavanagh clears as Bray's Andy Conway closes in.

Glenealy's Lee Kavanagh clears as Bray's Andy Conway closes in.

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Bray's full-back Eoin Mason in full control of the situation in the IHC semi-final against Glenealy in Aughrim.

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Bray Emmets made it through a tough battle with Glenealy to secure the second berth in this weekend’s Lightning Protection Ireland Intermediate Hurling Championship final where they will face Carnew Emmets in the County Grounds.

Less than 60 seconds into the game you’d have been forgiven for thinking that Bray were going to struggle given that full-forward Alan Conyard had dispatched an early long ball to the back of Peter O’Reilly’s net but there’s plenty of hurling in this Bray side and they showed exactly that over the next 59 minutes or more to reach the final less than a year after coming up from Junior.

Big performances from Eoin Mason, Enda Molloy, Ciaran McKay, Tom Cash, Liam Kenny and Rory Lambe helped pave the way for the Bray men against a Glenealy side peppered with fine hurlers.

It got worse before it got better for Bray after the early Conyard major. The full-forward showed silky hands to emerge from a ruck and flick over a fine score before James Byrne made it 1-2 to 0-0 after seven minutes.

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Eoin Mason had thwarted Conyard twice before Byrne’s point as Glenealy went hunting for the jugular early on, and this would have given the Bray full-back and real lift after the early blow.

Tom Cash grabbed the first of his hugely impressive 1-14 of the day with a nice score to get Bray off the mark but the centre forward would fire wide from a free moments later.

James Byrne added a wicked score for Glenealy with 11 gone before a long Peter O’Reilly puck-out broke to Cash and he finished with aplomb to keep Bray ticking over.

Eoin Mason was standing up to the Glenealy missiles and one of his clearances resulted in a foul on Cian Byrne by TJ O’Neill and Cash did the necessary. Paul Barry added one from play after good work from Cash and all of a sudden, the lead was cut to two.

However, two points from Conyard (one free, one 65) with a bomb from Mason from just outside his own 45 in between left Glenealy ahead by 1-5 to 0-5 at the first water break.

A lovely score from Ross O’Brien was answered swiftly by Cash and then Bray moved up through the gears. From there to half-time they dominated, registering points from the lively Rory Lambe and Tom Cash (four, two frees) while the centre forward also lashed home a penalty after 28 after a foul on Liam Kenny who was enduring a ferocious battle with Glenealy full-back Steven Cruise.

Credit to Glenealy, they closed to within one of Bray Emmets immediately after the second water break thanks to a rocket of a goal from Kevin O’Halloran and points from Ross O’Brien, Conyard (two, two frees) and Jack Manley but they also struck some relatively poor wides and these would prove costly in the end.

O’Halloran’s goal made it 1-14 to 2-10, Bray’s second-half points coming from Cash (three, two frees) but it was their recovery from the concession of that second goal that set them on their way to victory.

Rory Lambe, who was being marked by the excellent Emmet Byrne, really started to find his feet and he fired over superbly. Liam Kenny was fouled, and Cash walloped over the free. Liam Kenny was fouled again, and the same result. And although Glenealy would ask some serious questions of the Bray defence late on they would find no way through, and Bray would hold on for a sweet victory and a place against Carnew Emmets in the final.

“It was (a real battle from the start). We conceded an early goal and it put us on the backfoot. He (Alan Conyard) wreaks havoc and he’s always worth a few scores. We did have a plan which took a couple of minutes to kick into place, but in fairness to the lads they dug deep.

‘We clawed it back. There were a few points in it. We were never too far behind,” was the immediate reaction of Bray Emmets manager Graham Bush.

“We’ve put in a lot of work with the lads, a lot of training over the year and it paid off today. It really paid off. I think we had a great second quarter, after the water break.

“We came from three points down to five points up. In fairness to Glenealy they came back out in the third quarter, and they had a purple patch. We dug deep. We made a few changes at half and the last water break, and we saw it out. There was some fierce defending,” he added.

The showing of Rory Lambe, certainly in the second half, couldn’t help but impress anyone looking on.

“He’s one of those players. He just switches it on. I would have loved to have half his skill. He always has another trick he can do. You think you have the measure of him, and he’ll do something else,” he added.

It’s Carnew Emmets in the final. The Bray boss said he has a great backroom team who will devise a plan of action for the big game on Sunday.

“We’ve a great backroom staff and they’re passionate about the game and they’ll come up with a plan for our players on who we are playing. In the modern game you have to.

‘You can’t say you’ll do your own thing. You do try and stamp your game, your process into the game but you also have to be prepared for what they’re going to throw at you and expect where the game is going to come from.

“We were delighted to get up from Junior, so this is a huge step. To reach a final in our first year. In fairness, the club has been great in giving us the opportunity to create three teams,” he added.

Bray Emmets: Peter O’Reilly; Enda Molloy, Eoin Mason (0-1, f), Shane Anders; Ciaran McKay, Ronan O’Brien, Craig Brack Sinnott; Paul Barry (0-1), Andy Conway; Mikey Timmons, Tom Cash (1-14, 9f, 1p), Michael Walsh; Rory Lambe (0-2), Liam Kenny, Cian Byrne. Subs: Joe Phelan for C Byrne (48), Dara O Hannaidh for M Walsh (50), Sid Hunt for P Barry (57), Brian McCann for A Conway (58).

Glenealy: Glen O’Gorman; TJ O’Neill, Steven Cruise, Emmet Byrne; Cian O’Neill, Nigel Driver, Lee Kavanagh; Liam De Hora, Jack Manley (0-1); Aaron Meade, James Byrne (0-2), Cian Kelly; Ross O’Brien (0-2), Gavin Byrne, Alan Conyard (1-6, 4f, 1 65). Subs: Vinnie O’Flaherty for A Meade (H/T), Kevin O’Halloran (1-0).

Referee: Max Molloy


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