Senior Championship, Round 2

Mullagh 1-14 Pádraig Pearses 0-15

It was a heart-breaking finish for our Senior hurlers in this Round 2, Senior Championship game played yesterday evening in Loughrea. An goal well into injury time from Seán Callanan, put Mullagh into the lead after they had trailed since the half-way point of the first half. Overall, it was much improved performance from Round 1 and a better reflection of the team’s ability.

The warm conditions were ideal for hurling and many of the limited number of spectators in attendance took their place on the hill. After a slow start Pearses battled their way back into the game and took the lead after 22 minutes. They led 0-10 to 0-6 at half-time. Again at the water break (45 minutes), Pearses held the advantage, 0-13 to 0-8. The final quarter of the game, including an excessive 7+ minutes of injury time is where Mullagh played their best hurling. Pearses looked to have held out, but for the late goal.

After 15 minutes Mullagh led 0-5 to 0-2. Davy Glennon opened the scoring for Mullagh and added a second from play in this spell. Freetakers Cathal Dervan and Emmet Ward accounted for the other scores.

Pearses took over for the remainder of the first half, outscoring Mullagh by 0-8 to 0-1 with six of these points coming from open play. Ronan Bellew burst into the game with three scores, one from a tight angle on the left touchline. Gary Lally was in typical industrious form and chipped in with two. Emmet Ward hit the remaining three scores. Mullagh’s only reply was from a Cathal Dervan free. Both teams were guilty of some missed chances, Pearses had five wides in the first half.

After the half-time break, the game was more balanced, but Pearses’ scores were keeping Mullagh at arm’s length. At the waterbreak five points had been shared by the teams and just one of these came from play, by Dean Reilly, 0-13 to 0-8 after 45 minutes.

The water break seemed to change the momentum of the game and in the 10 minutes that followed Mullagh hit three points to reduce the gap to two. Points from Ronan Bellew and Tomás Flannery sandwiched another Mullagh point, leaving the score at 0-15 to 0-12, with four minutes of normal time remaining.

Crucial decisions now all seemed to be going Mullagh’s way and two Cathal Dervan frees cut the gap to the minimum. Pearses were creating chances and shooting, but couldn’t add to their tally. Another Pearses attack was halted, before a long delivery went over the top of the Pearses backline to the waiting Callanan, who grabbed it and sent it to the back of the net.

There was still time to salvage something and Pearses worked a ’65. Colm Raftery dropped it in around the house and the play that followed yielded a 21-yard-free. Fearghal Flannery came forward to hit it, but it was blocked on the line. Referee Brian Keon blew the final whistle soon after, with the clock in it’s 8th minute of injury time.

This was an awful way to lose the game, where a win would have opened up the group for the final round of matches. Mullagh are now through to the knockout stages. One game remains for Pearses in the group, against Kilnadeema/Leitrim, a must win fixture. 

Pearses: F Flannery; T McDonagh, K Donnellan, R Lally; E. Cunniffe, R O’Neill, K Hardiman; C Raftery, C Fahey; D Reilly (0-1), T Flannery (0-1); E Ward (0-7); M Hennelly, R Bellew (0-4), G Lally (0-2). Subs used: D Wynne, O Flannery, C O’Neill.