The Nenagh Éire Óg junior A hurlers got their championship campaign off to an encouraging start at Dolla on Saturday evening when Noel Maloney’s winning point brought an entertaining encounter to a dramatic conclusion.
Watch Centre North Tipperary
Junior A Hurling Championship
Nenagh Éire Óg 1-17 Kildangan 2-13
Despite playing into a strong wing the Blues took the lead in the third minute thanks to an Adam Carey point. Two minutes later Kildangan hit back with a goal, but a right-handed point from Aidan Healy in the ninth minute left one between them (0-2 to 1-0).
Two Kildangan points (one free) left three between the sides, but Éire Óg were hurling well into the breeze and Gary Howard’s point in the 17th minute left two in it.
A brace of Kildangan scores (one free) then opened a four-point gap. Anthony Walsh drilled over two impressive placed balls, but three points (one free) helped Kildangan into a 1-7 to 0-5 by the 29th minute.
Niall Madden and Seánie Geaney played a neat one-two in the 30th minute before Bob O’Brien swung over a left-handed effort and when Anthony Walsh converted another placed ball the Kildangan lead was down to three.
Kildangan responded with two points (a converted ’65 and free) to lead, once more, by five before Gary Howard accepted a return pass from Bob O’Brien and fired over a fine point in the sixth minute of first half injury time.
Kildangan led 1-9 to 0-8 at the break.
Now playing with the wind there was every chance of Éire Óg mounting a comeback.
Four points in the opening nine minutes of the second half got the Blues back on terms (0-12 to 1-9). An Anthony Walsh free and three terrific long-range strikes from Niall Madden left the sides all square by the 39th minute.
Seánie Geaney had made a fine save to deny Kildangan a goal in the 37th minute, but Kildangan were not to be denied in the 40th when they edged into a 1-10 to 0-12 lead.
Éire Óg were hurling well now, however, and three Anthony Walsh frees helped the Blues into a 0-15 to 1-10 lead entering the final quarter.
A Kildangan free reduced the Éire Óg lead to one, but with ten minutes to play Gary Howard’s right-handed effort opened a two-point gap before Adam Healy struck for a vital three-pointer in the 52nd minute. Bob O’Brien broke Willie Bolger’s long-range delivery to John O’Donoghue; the full-forward worked the ball into Adam Healy’s hand and Healy finished neatly off his left (1-16 to 1-11).
Éire Óg looked in control of the game, but Kildangan, to their credit, rallied superbly.
Kildangan fired home a penalty in the 55th minute and then added a point from play to leave one in it with two minutes to play. Another Kildangan free (the 21st conceded by the Blues) tied the game on the hour mark.
Then, fully two minutes into injury time, Noel Maloney won possession in the half-forward line and landed the game-winning score.
The Watch Centre North Tipperary Junior A Hurling Championship will be run on a two-group system with the top team in each group progressing to the semi-finals and the second and third teams qualifying for the quarter-finals.
Nenagh Éire Óg, the defending champions, have been drawn in group one alongside Kildangan, Kilruane MacDonagh’s, Silvermines and Burgess. Meanwhile group two will feature Toomevara, Borris-Ileigh, Roscrea, Knockshegowna and Templederry.
This year the junior A team is managed by Greg Browne (manager), Con Morris, Michael Ryan and Conor Ryan.
Nenagh Éire Óg: Willie Bolger, Brian Flynn, Noel Maloney (0-1), Michael Collins, Anthony Walsh (0-7, 0-7 frees), Adam Gratton, Seánie Geaney, Gavin O’Connor, Niall Madden (0-3), Bob O’Brien (0-1), Gary Howard (0-3), Adam Carey (0-1), Aidan Healy (0-1), John O’Donoghue, David Cleary. Subs: (23rd) Adam Healy (1-0) for Adam Carey.
Referee: Mike Murphy (Toomevara).
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