Naomh Éanna dream ended by terrific Tullaroan

AIB All Ireland Intermediate Hurling Championship Semi-Final

Naomh Éanna 0-14 Tullaroan 3-20

Saturday January 4

Brendan McTaggart reports from Parnell Park, Dublin

Naomh Éanna’s All-Ireland dream ended at the semi-final stage on Saturday afternoon as Tullaroan proved too big a hurdle for the Antrim champions to overcome.  The Kilkenny men were excellent all over the field and showed little or no weaknesses.  They claimed the vast majority of breaking ball and Naomh Éanna struggled for any fluency in attack.

Naomh Eann’s Joe Maskey in action against Tullaroan legend Tommy Walsh

Tullaroan made the kind of start Naomh Éanna would have dreamed of the night before.  A goal in the fourth minute with Tommy Walsh applying the finish while on his knees.  The Hightown Road side fought back but the piviotal moment of the first half and possibly the game came in the 10th minute.  Both Darrach Cooper and John McGoldrick had goal chances but were denied by Paul Buggy between the sticks for Tullaroan.  The Kilkenny men never looked back and scored three points in as many minutes in response to extend their lead to six midway through the half.

Naomh Éanna showed the workrate, commitment and desire throughout the first half we became accustomed to.  Joe Maskey and Ryan Bogue going through a mountain of work while their defence was under constant pressure by the lively Tullaroan attack.  Naomh Éanna were having to work much harder for their scores with All Star Padraig Walsh instrumental at centre half.

Shane Walsh finished top scorer for Tullaroan with nine points over the hour and it was he who did the bulk of his sides scoring as they held an eight point lead at the interval.  Half time score Naomh Éanna 0-6 Tullaroan 1-11

Martin Keoghan celebrates after scoing his team’s second goal

Naomh Éanna had the advantage of the wind at their backs after the restart but they needed a quick start.  What they got was more astute hurling from Tullaroan and scores from Shane Walsh.  The Kilkenny men stretched their lead to 12 points midway through the second half but Naomh Éanna showed their never-say-die attitude that brought them through the titanic tussle against Eoghan Ruadh in the Ulster final.  A run of five points in as many minutes from John McGoldrick (two), Ruairi Donaghy, Killian Jennings and Cormac Ross engulfed the one score from Shane Walsh to reduced the lead to eight points.  The kind of scoring burst they needed at the start of the second half but the Tullaroan response was emphatic.

An outstanding individual goal from Martin Keoghan in the 55th minute preceded Tommy Walsh’s second major and the best score of the afternoon.  Shane Walsh collecting the sliotar in the corner before rifling a pass in the direction of his brother.  Tommy took aim and with one blistering strike, Tullaroan had sealed Naomh Éanna’s fate.

They continued to pursue the scores and goals they needed and substitute Eddie O’Connor went close in injury time but the Tullaroan defence were immense.  Throughout the match Naomh Éanna sent innumerable ball ball in the direction of McGoldrick, Cooper and latter Philly Curran but nothing broke the way of Naomh Éanna at all through the hour.

Tullaroan had their homework done with the influence of Mark Donaghy curtailed for long periods of the match and the Kilkenny men rarely looked like conceding a major at any stage.  Ryan Bogue, Niall O’Conner and Ruairi Diamond all added to their growing reputation in the game but Tullaroan were playing at a different level to anything Naomh Éanna have encountered before.  A 15 point defeat with their dreams of Croke Park dashed but they have the memory of an incredible 2019 where they went unbeaten in the league to gain promotion and winning their maiden title with their senior hurlers.  They now look forward to playing in the top divisions in hurling and football for the 2020 season.  Defeated they might have been but they battled to the very end and the rise of Naomh Éanna will surely continue.

A picture to treasure for Naomh Eanna full back Rian Gillen as he shakes hands with Kilkenny legend Tommy Walsh at the final whistle.

TEAMS

Naomh Éanna: Martin Curran; Niall O’Connor, Rian Gillen, Ruairi Diamond; Manus Mullan, Mark Donaghy, Cormac Ross; Ryan Bogue, Joe Maskey; Philly Curran, Ruairi Diamond, Cormac Jennings; John McGoldrick, Darrach Cooper, Killian Jennings

Subs: Ruairi Crummey for D Coopoer (47); Matthew O’Hare for C Jennings (47); Eddie O’Connor for P Curran (55); Daniel Lowry for K Jennings (59); Dermot Maguire for R Donaghy (inj)

Scorers: John McGoldrick 0-6 (5 f’s 1 ’65); Ryan Bogue 0-3; Killian Jennings 0-2; Cormac Ross 0-1; Ruairi Donaghy 0-1; Matthew O’Hare 0-1

Tullaroan: Paul Buggy; Diarmuid Doheny, Tommy Walsh, Stephen Maher; Martin Walsh, Pádraig Walsh, Jack Keoghan; Tomás Dune, Mark Walsh; Bill Gaffney, Martin Keoghan, John Walton; Shane Walsh, Tommy Walsh, Peter Walsh

Subs: Dylan Simpson for T Dunne (47); Ken Coogan for P Walsh (50); Ger Luby for J Walton (57); Shane Cuddihy for B Gaffney (58); Stephen Dowling for S Walsh (inj)

Scorers: Stephen Walsh 0-9 (7 f’s); Tommy Walsh 2-1; Martin Keoghan 1-1; Mark Walsh 0-3; Pádraig Walsh 0-1; Jack Keoghan 0-1; Tomás Dunne 0-1; Bill Gaffney 0-1; John Walton 0-1; Shane Cuddihy 0-1

Referee: Shane Hynes (Galway)

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