Goals do the trick
Intermediate Hurling Championship: Glenealy 4-7 Barndarrig 0-18
A dream start that saw the Glenealy Intermediate hurlers open up a 3-0 to 0-1 lead over Barndarrig after eight minutes proved to be the cushion they would need in their entertaining battle with last year's Junior hurling champions in an near-empty Aughrim on Sunday afternoon.
Barndarrig will have to go back to the drawing board in terms of defence as they move through this competition but their 18-point haul, albeit with 10 of that total from frees and 15 from the hurl of the massively impressive Andrew Kavanagh, suggests that they have it well within their capabilities to test any of the other teams in the Intermediate championship.
Those early majors from Glenealy - Gavin Byrne, Alan Conyard and Dean Franey - along with Conyard's second immediately after the restart in the second half were massive boosts for the Reds who struggled in front of the posts with only seven points scored in 60 minutes of hurling, only six wides registered in total and a mere three points in the first half.
Barndarrig would clock up 10 wides and fire a low shot directly at the experienced Joey Driver Snr in a game they will surely feel they left behind.
Making the rise from Junior to Intermediate can be difficult if the work is not put in but Barndarrig seem to have concentrated on their new reality in a big way and they are a very welcome addition to the second tier of club hurling in Wicklow.
The passion and drive on the line and the absolute commitment from the players was wonderful to see and with an impressive hurling wall nearing completion back in Kilmacurra, hopefully the Barndarrig men will find their feet now before someday pushing on to better things.
The Glenealy side was made up of vastly experienced warriors and younger lieutenants. The aforementioned Joey Driver Jnr manned the goalline while names like Colm O'Neill, Lee Kavanagh, Dean Franey, Alan Conyard and MA O'Neill were spread throughout the field.
Their bright start was hugely impressive and looked to be devastating from a Barndarrig point of view. Gavin Byrne was the first to find the back of the net after picking up a break from Alan Conyard after a high ball was dropped in from Lee Kavanagh with about 40 seconds on the clock.
Barndarrig would fire wide from the hurl of Paddy Redmond after a loose Glenealy sideline and then Alan Conyard caught a long Brendan Hawes ball before turning and rifling home past Andrew Keogh in the goal with six minutes gone.
Disastrous start for the Kilmacurra men and one that necessitated the switching of David Dickenson and Michael Cullen to try and stem the leakage of majors.
Thankfully, Andrew Kavanagh's first point (free) followed the goal and gave them some kind of lift but it was only a brief one as Dean Franey gathered a ball 30 yards from goal and drilled home past Keogh who will feel he might have done better and Glenealy were eight points up with as many minutes on the clock.
Barndarrig's reaction was a positive one. Points from Bernard Quinn, Malachy Stone and Andrew Kavanagh reduced the deficit to five before Dean Franey swung over a lovely score after 13 to make it 3-1 to 0-4.
Andrew Kavanagh and Gavin Byrne exchanged points, but it would be the 29th minute before Glenealy would score again and in that time Barndarrig would score seven points (six from Andrew Kavanagh, three frees) to draw level after a period of total domination before Dean Franey's late first-half point sent the Reds in leading by just a single score.
Glenealy got the start they needed in the opening minutes of the second half when Conyard plucked another ball out of the sky and drilled home past Keogh.
The battle became score for score now, with Kavanagh (free), Conyard, Kavanagh (free) and Gavin Byrne all raising white flags to leave it at 4-5 to 0-13 before Barndarrig sent in David Byrne to the action.
Malachy Stone's second point o the day was answered by a Conyard free before Kavanagh floated over yet another majestic score after a chop on Bernard Quinn to leave just three between the sides and Barndarrig looking more than capable of snatching a win.
But as close as Barndarrig could get, Glenealy always had that bit of class or guile to push that gap that bit further out.
A Kavanagh free was followed by a period of wastefulness from both sides with Glenealy clocking up four wides on the trot and Barndarrig collecting two and Enda Dempsey watching as his low shot was blocked by the boss of Joey Driver Snr's hurl with six to go.
Gavin Byrne pushed the Glenealy lead out to three but back came Barndarrig with two Andrew Kavanagh points (one free) to close to within one but time was against them and the final whistle heralded a sweet victory for Glenealy after a very entertaining battle.
Huge positives for Barndarrig who were without the services of Michael Murphy on the day. Andrew Kavanagh was immense and must be a cert for county duty in 2020 of he stays injury free.
Plenty of other fine hurlers on the Kilmacurra side with Michael Cullen coping well with the threat of Alan Conyard, and Martin Cullen, Malachy Stone, Bernard Quinn and Paddy Redmond impressing.
They will need a better return from their inside line, but they looked completely at ease at this level.
Glenealy will be a very tough nut to crack. They are endowed with vast experience, lots of energy and the traditional grit and determination of any team who wears the red jersey. An interesting championship awaits.
Scorers - Glenealy: Alan Conyard 2-2 (1f), Gavin Byrne 1-3 (1f), Dean Franey 1-2. Barndarrig: Andrew Kavanagh 0-15 (10f), Malachy Stone 0-2, Bernard Quinn 0-1.
Glenealy: Joey Driver Snr.; Colm O'Neill, Wesley Manning, Oisin O'Neill; Declan Conyard, Lee Kavanagh, Brendan Hawes; Aaron Meade, Ross O'Brien; Fionn Mac Lochlainn, Dean Franey, Killian Hogan; MA O'Neill, Alan Conyard, Gavin Byrne. Subs: Michael Byrne for F Mac Lochlainn (45).
Barndarrig: Andrew Keogh; Michael Doyle, David Dickenson, Kevin Cullen; Paddy Redmond, Michael Cullen, Shane Whelan; Jonathan Devereux, Martin Cullen; Malachy Stone, Bernard Quinn, Andrew P Kavanagh; Enda Dempsey, Tom Doyle, Michael Crowley. Subs: David Byrne for D Dickenson (40), Philip Kinsella for M Crowley (52).
Referee: Con O Ceadaigh (Kilcoole)