Cian Tucker’s junior B hurlers suffered an agonising one-point league defeat to Newport at MacDonagh Park on Sunday evening. The Blues recovered a four-point interval deficit only to be denied by a late Newport surge.
Watch Centre North Tipperary
Junior B Hurling League
Nenagh Éire Óg 2-16 Newport 2-17
Following defeats suffered at the hands of Portroe and Moneygall the Blues started in determined mood with Darragh Walsh and then Jamie Gallagher setting up David Cleary to score two early points. Éire Óg led 0-2 to no-score before Newport got off the mark in the sixth minute.
In the ninth minute the Newport ‘keeper made a stunning save to deny Thomas O’Brien a goal before a Gavin O’Connor point helped Éire Óg into a 0-3 to 0-1 lead. Newport then converted three consecutive frees and led 0-4 to 0-3 by the 13th minute.
Kieran Duffy drilled a long-range free into the wind in the 16th minute to tie the game following a foul on Jamie Gallagher. A minute later Paul Lillis pulled on a Duffy delivery and the Blues led 0-5 to 0-4.
Newport hit back with a brace of points from play before a right-handed Gavin O’Connor point in the 24th minute tied the game at 0-6 apiece.
Newport then raced clear of their hosts when hitting 1-3 without reply in a devastating four-minute spell and led 1-9 to 0-6 with half-time fast approaching. Late points from David Cleary and Darragh Walsh closed the gap and with just four between them (0-8 to 1-9) at the break there was every chance of an Éire Óg reprieve.
Two minutes into the second half a Paul Lillis free cut the gap to three and although Newport hit back almost immediately Anthony Walsh cracked over a smashing point in the 33rd minute to close the gap once more.
A Paul Lillis free reduced the margin before Thomas O’Brien won Brian Darcy’s puck-out in the 36th minute and raced through the heart of the Newport defence before firing home off his left to present the Blues with a 1-11 to 1-10 lead.
Newport responded with a converted free, but Éire Óg were utterly dominant at this stage. A Paul Lillis free preceded a converted sideline from the stick of Darragh Walsh. Paul Lillis added a point from play and then in the 41st minute Brian Duffy won a terrific turnover in defence, the ball was worked into the hand of Darragh Walsh and Walsh landed a monster of a point to hand Éire Óg a 1-15 to 1-11 lead.
Newport re-structured their side, installed a sweeper in defence and to their credit worked their way back into this contest. Two Newport frees cut the deficit to two and then, in the 51st minute, the visitors struck for a vital goal. A minute later Newport added a point and Éire Óg trailed by two (1-15 to 2-14).
A David Cleary point in the 54th minute gave the Blues some hope, but Newport hit back with a converted free.
Éire Óg ‘keeper Brian Darcy made a superb save at his near post in the 56th minute, but there was no denying Newport two late points which helped the visitors into a 2-17 to 1-16 lead. In the third minute of second half injury time Paul Lillis fired home a great goal, but the final whistle blew shortly thereafter.
The Watch Centre North Tipperary Junior B Hurling League will be played on a two-group system this year with the top two teams in each progressing to the semi-finals. Nenagh Éire Óg have remaining group games against Toomevara and Shannon Rovers. The Nenagh Éire Óg team are managed this year by Cian Tucker (manager), Mark Long, Paddy Flynn and John Paul King.
Nenagh Éire Óg: Brian Darcy, John Kelly, Lenny Ryan, Brian Duffy, Alex Jones, Kieran Duffy (0-1, 0-1 frees), Aodhán Geaney, Jamie Gallagher, Anthony Walsh (0-1), Gavin O’Connor (0-2), Thomas O’Brien (1-0), Darragh Walsh (0-3, 0-1 sideline), Michael Hallinan, David Cleary (0-4), Paul Lillis (captain, 1-5, 0-3 frees). Subs: (39th) Jack Sheedy for Michael Hallinan, (53rd) Brian Tuite for Anthony Walsh, (58th) Adam Healy for Alex Jones.
Referee: Mike Murphy (Toomevara).
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