Staunton on fire as Kiltegan fall short
Glenealy laid claim to the position of top challenger to the defending champions Bray Emmets with this 2-10 to 1-11 victory over a Kiltegan side who will be fiercely disappointed with their display in this Lightning Protection Ireland Senior Hurling Championship clash in Aughrim on Friday evening.
Powered by the absolutely class Danny Staunton from centre-forward, Michael Anthony O’Neill’s men have hit the ground running in this year’s championship in this their first game and they have more or less guaranteed their position at the top of Group 2 and a semi-final spot against the runners up in Group 1 unless St Patrick’s can defeat the Reds by a huge margin.
Kiltegan, coming into this game on the high of defeating the Dunbur Park men in their opener, will know that the somewhat ‘easier’ route to a county final is now beyond them as they will have to take on Bray Emmets in the semi-final given that Paul Carley’s side are two from two and have one last remaining game, against Avondale.
The win also secured Glenealy the Dessie Murphy Cup with the game doubling up as the Senior hurling league final as well as the championship fixture.
Errors and wides
Errors and wides are what cost David Galway’s side dear in this tough, hard-fought battle with two cheap goals coughed up, one in each half, that left them with a steep mountain to climb against a fired up Glenealy side who look to be fully intent of righting the wrongs and disappointments of 2021.
The decision to match Matthew Traynor up with his inter-county football comrade Podge O’Toole was an excellent one, with the athletic Kiltegan half-forward kept very quiet in this game, registering just a single point compared to his tally of five against St Patrick’s.
Elsewhere Glenealy had excellent performers in Paul O’Brien, Gary Byrne and Sam O’Dowd while Seanie Germaine’s threat was nullified when Robert Byrne was sprung from the bench, and aside from Kieran Conway, Kiltegan posed little threat in front of the Glenealy goal although Cian Staunton had to be sharp to block two attempts that would have changed the course of this game had they been converted.
But this game was all about Danny Staunton and it showed how incredibly vital he is to the Glenealy cause. He put in a massive shift in very tough conditions while being marked by the determined Padraig Byrne. He plucked numerous balls from the heavens, drove over some cracking scores and worked his socks off all over the field, dropping back to mind the house when Kiltegan came hunting for a match-winning goal and thwarting Kieran Conway illegally late on much to the outrage of the Kiltegan faithful.
Glenealy’s plan to land their puck-outs down on top of Danny Staunton was made clear early on and though Padraig Byrne managed to prevent a few early efforts, once Staunton found his groove his fielding was very impressive.
Kiltegan’s first of a raft of wides arrived in the second minute following a huge turnover by Mark Murphy. Liam Keogh found Seanie Germaine, but his effort was wide of the posts.
They would have another wayward shot on the books before Germaine would fire over a free close on four minutes for a foul by Gary Byrne way down the field and they would have two more misses and shot dropped short to Cian Staunton by the time Gleenaly equalised through a free from Gavin Weir after eight minutes.
One takeaway from the weekend’s games was the low scoring element of all three, especially from play. At the end of the first quarter in this one, Glenealy led by 0-2 to 0-1, a Danny Staunton monster free after a foul on Paul O’Brien their second and no scores from play as defences worked feverishly to cut out the threats.
The opening point from play arrived after 16 when Danny Staunton picked out Paul O’Brien with a short free and the dual player fired over sweetly after Kiltegan had completely switched off.
The first of those two decent goal chances for Kiltegan arrived a minute later but Seanie Furlong’s flick was saved by Cian Staunton. However, they would recover well and dispossess Glenealy on their counter from that save with Ciaran Harmon, Michael Mangan and Brandon Ryan all key to working the ball to Kieran Conway who was fouled, and Germaine did the rest.
Danny Staunton was making his presence felt and he plucked Staunton’s restart from the sky and earned a free which Weir lofted over, and when Jack Kavanagh recycled a ball to Staunton in their next attack despite savage work from Bryan Kearney to stop Alan Driver beforehand, Glenealy lead by 0-5 to 0-2 after 21.
Luke Byrne found Podge O’Toole with his puck-out and he won a free off Traynor with Germaine splitting the posts, but Byrne would be left to pick the ball out of the back of his net when a speculative Danny Staunton effort from out the field deceived the Kiltegan netminder and the ball flew through his legs with 26 gone.
Kiltegan’s recovery was strong, two Brandon Ryan points from frees leaving just three between the sides but another stunning Danny Staunton catch under Staunton’s puck-out saw him feed the excellent Sam O’Dowd who fired over to leave it 1-6 to 0-5 at the break.
The opening 12 minutes of the second half were both positive and negative from a Kiltegan point of view. It was positive in the sense that they scored 1-3 to Glenealy’s 0-1, the goal from Brandon Ryan after he was picked out by the very busy Kieran Conway.
They were negative from the point of view that they left 1-5 behind them, with Seanie Germaine flicking to Staunton’s chest when put through on goal shortly after the restart.
If the first 12 minutes were a mixture of vibes, the last 21 would be largely disappointing. Quite the opposite for Glenealy, however. A clever flick down by Alan Driver to Sam O’Dowd saw him rifle a shot at Luke Byrne. The ball flicked up and Driver was on hand to finish to the back of the net for a massive boost for Michael Anthony O’Neill’s men with 13 on the clock.
Points from Staunton (free), Weir (free) and another monster from Staunton (free) left Glenealy leading by 2-10 to 1-8 as tensions rose all over the field.
Glenealy wouldn’t score again but Kiltegan added three wides to their tally and although finishing relatively strongly with two points from Germaine (frees) and one from Podge O’Toole after Germaine had gone for goal from a free following Danny Staunton’s crunching foul on Kieran Conway that earned him a yellow card and Padraig Byrne a second yellow for a reaction, David Galway’s men ran out of time to catch the Reds.
A cracking win
It was a cracking win for Glenealy who will now most likely face the winners of Carnew Emmets and Éire Óg Greystones in the Lightning Protection Ireland Senior Hurling Championship semi-final. They have issues to sort out, but in Staunton, Gary Byrne, O’Dowd and Paul O’Brien to name just a few they have serious hurlers intent on going all the way.
Glenealy: Cian Staunton; Declan Conyard, Warren Kavanagh, Joey Driver; Paul O’Brien (0-1), Gary Byrne, Sam O’Dowd (0-1); Ronan Manley, Tommy Doyle; Jamie Byrne, Danny Staunton (1-6, 5f), Matthew Traynor; Jack Kavanagh, Alan Driver (1-0), Gavin Weir (0-3, 3f). Subs: Robert Byrne for D Conyard (45), Jonathan O’Neill Jnr for J Kavanagh (52), Wayne O’Gorman for A Driver (56), Emmet Byrne for R Manley (59).
Kiltegan: Luke Byrne; Colm Keogh, Michael Mangan, Bryan Kearney; Brandon Ryan (1-1, f), Padraig Byrne, Ciaran Harmon; Liam Keogh, Mark Murphy; Podge O’Toole (0-1), Aaron Byrne (0-1), Eoghan Byrne (0-1); Kieran Conway, Seanie Furlong, Seanie Germaine (0-7, 7f)). Subs: Sean Murphy for L Keogh (42).
Referee: John Keenan (Aughrim)