Ardrahan 1-19 Pádraig Pearses 1-17
Report by Darren Kelly, Connacht Tribune
Ardrahan left their fate in the hands of others on Saturday as they finished their senior hurling championship group campaign with a fourth victory and promotion to the Senior A ranks in 2023.
Oisin Slevin’s goal was the crucial score on 46 minutes as they finally managed to gain the initiative against a Padraig Pearses outfit which ensured they were never going to be dragged into a relegation dog-fight.
But even though Ardrahan were already guaranteed a Senior B play-off (against Athenry in Kenny Park on Saturday, 2pm), passage to the top 16 was only secured thanks to Portumna’s result against Liam Mellows.
Pearses started with intent but nine first half wides with the wind were costly. Jack Barrett’s delivery down to right fell to Dean Reilly who ran at the opposition. Ardrahan’s defence left space in abundance, Emmet Ward received the pass and dispatched to the net for the perfect start.
The East Galway side stretched their lead on 10 minutes thanks to Ward’s free before Ardrahan finally got off the mark when Iarla Tannian’s cross ball found Liam Forde. A Jason Kennedy free on 12 minutes left it 1-1 to 0-2.
Pearses replied as Reilly and Ronan Bellew set up Conor Fahy before Ward’s free on 14 minutes made it 1-3 to 0-2. And after Forde got his second for Ardrahan, Ward added another placed ball to restore Pearses’ four-point lead.
Every time Ardrahan made inroads, Pearses found a way to knock them back. Sean Gardiner and Kennedy converted for Ardrahan (the latter requiring keeper Fearghal Flannery to deflect a Tannian effort from the left), with Tomas and Oisin Flannery responding by 26th minute.
Cianan Fahy finally opened his account on 28 minutes and Kennedy added another. Two Ward dead balls kept Pearses in the hunt before Fahy left Ardrahan 1-8 to 0-8 ahead at half-time. After the restart Ward, continuing to stamp his authority on proceedings, had landed two points from play by the 33rd minute.
Ardrahan eventually got a run with Tannian and Fahy on target. The teams were level at 1-10 to 0-13 on 42 minutes and traded scores through a Ward free and Gardiner from play. When Ward added another on the three-quarter mark, Pearses were back ahead.
But Ardrahan hit the game’s decisive score 60 seconds later. A sweeping move down the left resulted in a diagonal ball for the advanced Slevin. He beat Fearghal Flannery for the goal and a lead Ardrahan never relinquished.
Pearses couldn’t achieve parity again. Scores from Ward (4) and Reilly were replied by keeper Darrach Fahy (2), Ross Albertini, Cian Walsh and Cianan Fahy.
However, Padraig Pearses nearly stole it with Mark Hennelly’s strike saved by Darrach Fahy. That block proved costly for Ahascragh/Fohenagh. Pearses had their work done already despite defeat. Slevin for Ardrahan, and Ward for Pearses were the game’s top players. Ardrahan goalkeeper Darach Fahy also deserves an honourable mention.
Ardrahan: D Fahy (0-2, both frees); G Forde, M Walsh, J Bourke; C Cosgrove, P McCrann, O Slevin (1-0); E Murphy, C Walsh (0-1); R Albertini (0-1), J Kennedy (0-3, one free), C Fahy (0-7, 5f); S Gardiner (0-2), I Tannian (0-1), L Forde (0-2). Subs: C Diviney for Murphy (45).
Pádraig Pearses: F Flannery; M Hennelly, T Kenny, R Carr; J Barrett, D Wynne, T McDonagh; O Flannery (0-1), T Flannery (0-1); L Mitchell, R Bellew, C Fahey (0-1); G Lally, E. Ward (1-13, 9f, 1 ’65), D. Reilly (0-1). Subs: S Hardiman for Lally (44), C Ward for Bellew (52), Bellew for Carr (58), D Fahey for Mitchell (58).
Referee: C Quinlan