2nd Victory in Ulster League for Shamrocks
Shamrocks secured their second victory of the Ulster League with a one point victory away to Castleblayney. This was a game Shamrocks should have had wrapped up at half time but they failed to take a number of goal chances in the 1st half and almost paid the price in the 2nd half as they lost their discipline.
The Newry started at a whirlwind pace with the inclusion of Kieran Courtney at full forward paying immediate dividends when he caught the ball above the full back's head to then hand pass the ball to Martin Carr for an easy goaling chance. Within five minutes Shamrocks had repeated the dose when some great stick work by Paddy Gartland set up Carr for his second goal and when Paul Sheehan fired over a long range point it looked like the Newry men would run away with the game.
However Castleblayney fought their way back into the game when their midfielder ran fully 60 yds unchallenged before rifling to the net, which was quickly followed by a second goal from a 21 yd free. The failure to deal with the running player was to prove a problem all night for Newry who missed the steadying influences of Mark Cribbon, Kevin Fegan and Martin Keenan in the backline. Despite their frailties at the back due to three changes from the previous week Newry were still proving potent upfront with Courtney, Gartland and McGuinness causing havoc and within ten minutes both Courtney and McGuinness had goaled to add to minors from R Sheehan and McGuinness to leave Newry cruising at 4-4 to 2-1.
At this stage it appeared as if Newry had weathered the storm and were set for an easy victory, at this stage Castleblayney had failed to keep any semblance of structure in their forward line which was causing Newry some problems as marking got slack and as a direct result Castleblayney secured a further goal and 2 points to close the gap. Just prior to half time both McGuinness and Carr had gilt edged chances for further goals but missed both before Eoin McGuinness finally did secure his second goal of the night to leave the halftime score 5-5 to 3-3.
Having faced into the wind in the first half Newry found themselves facing the breeze again as it had turned at half time and indeed grown stronger. This however was no excuse for what was a total collapse by Newry in the 2nd half as they lost all shape and discipline allowing Castleblayney to drag the game down into a battle. The more broken play of the 2nd half suited Castleblayney and they started to capitalise on some poor handling errors within the Shamrocks defence and midfield to claw their way into the game. With ten minutes to go they earned a penalty which although mis-hit deceived Damian Kearns in the goals to roll into the net and level the game. At this stage Newry woke up and started to fight back into the match with a succession of points from Paul Cribben and Ronan Sheehan which were negated by another goal against the run of play by Castleblayney. The game was now in the melting pot but yet again Kieran Courtney proved his worth to the team when securing a high ball from Sheehan before turning and placing over the bar with 2 minutes to go.
Despite Castleblayney throwing everything at them in the final minutes the Newry men held firm for a one point victory which the quality of their hurling in the 1st half certainly deserved 5-11 to 5-10.
Best for the Newry men were Paddy Gartland, Darren Doyle, Eoin McGuinness and Kieran Courtney who although being rusty from his long hurling lay off still proved the match winner.
Team: D Kearns, B Bell, G Courtney, C Doran, P Young, A McGuinness, D Doyle, S Courtney, P Sheehan, P Cribben, R Sheehan, E McGuinness, M Carr, K Courtney, P Gartland. Subs: B Young, J Reilly, C McCabe, D Trainor, M Cribbon (inj)