HomeFootballImproving Arklow Rocks pack too much punch for Western Gaels

Improving Arklow Rocks pack too much punch for Western Gaels

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Western Gaels 0-9

Western Gaels made the long trip to Arklow on Saturday, April 27, to take on the Rocks in the Intermediate hurling league.

The men from the west had already one outing – a defeat at home to Kilcoole – whereas Parnells had yet to play, although they have enjoyed several games across the border after signing up to compete in the Gorey District Junior ‘B’ hurling league where they now have two wins from two outings.

A sneaky cold easterly breeze blew down the pitch from the cemetery end at Arklow, but the playing surface was ideal for hurling. A last-minute change of referee led to a seven-minute delay in starting (there was once a time when that would not have been considered a delay).

The home side had the assistance of the breeze and hit the ground running. Full-forward Cian Doyle opened the scoring with a pointed free in the second minute. The ball was quickly returned back in from the puck-out and midfielder Liam Somers whipped a great ground shot past Michael Cleary to leave the Rocks 1-1 to the good within two minutes.

Western Gaels began to steady their ship and James Sinnott, Finn Craul, Rory Martin and Senan Gardiner began to mind the house a little better. Luke Byrne pointed a free to open the Gaels scoring after four minutes.

The western side began to find their feet a bit better and were beginning to put together some good passing movements. A number of their players were getting their baptism in the adult ranks and realising that they were no longer operating at the underage level.

Luke Byrne opened their account from a free after five minutes. This score was balanced by a Rocks point from Adam O’Leary, (another player moving up from underage ranks).

Luke Byrne made it 1-2 to 0-2 when he notched a second Gaels point, again from a free. Centre-half back Rory Martin made a great solo run up the middle to shoot an inspiring third point for the western side.

Parnells’ midfielder Shane Mellon responded with a great long-range point from a free. 1-3 to 0-3 at the quarter-hour stage and Western Gaels were holding their own.

In fairness to the Rocks, they probably could and should have been a little further ahead. They were wide from a couple of scorable frees and also wasted a few opportunities from play. In addition, James Sinnott, Michael Cleary and Finn Craul rescued a couple of goalmouth near misses when Parnells might have netted at least one and possibly two goals.

Adam O’Leary got his second point coming up to 20 minutes and this was immediately followed by a fine score from the left wing by substitute Ryan Barden (on for the injured Conor Jameson).

A very good point from centre-back Conor Doyle off his left hand left the home side ahead by 1-6 to 0-3 five minutes before the break.

This was perhaps a fairer reflection of the run of play. Western Gaels stirred themselves and finished the first half with a flourish. A fine point from wing-forward Oisin O’Neill, another pointed free from Luke Byrne and a third point from Rory Martin brought the Gaels back within a goal as the first half moved into added time.

Cian Doyle had the final say for the Arklow men when he pointed a free. 1-7 to 0-6 and Western Gaels were happy.

They were happier still when they had a further two points on the board in the opening minutes of the second half. Rory Martin scored from play and Luke Byrne pointed a free to close the gap to a single point.

But that was as good as things got for the lads from the west. The Rocks went on to have a good second half, with their defence in particular giving a disciplined, united performance and limiting their opponents to one Rory Martin point for the remainder of the second half.

Up front they were perhaps fortunate that full-forward Cian Doyle had his eye in from frees as midfielder Liam Somers with a point from play at the halfway stage was the only other scorer.

They found it difficult to gauge the breeze at the cemetery end and had a number of wides from good scorable positions.

Cian Doyle pointed four frees from varying distances, landed a 65 and his only black mark was a missed penalty puck awarded after seven minutes when corner-forward Des Byrne was fouled.

Doyle’s shot shaved the left-hand post on the wrong side. The full-time score was 1-13 to 0-9.

The Rocks followed up this win with a fine victory over Avondale on a scoreline of 2-18 to 4-10 leaving them sitting pretty with Kilcoole at the top of the IHL, and they look to be a focused outfit this season with sights firmly set on a positive 2024 and beyond.

ARP: Daniel O’Reilly; TJ Copeland, Martin Gilbert, Darren Reilly; Liam Murphy, Conor Doyle (0-1), Sean Somers; Shane Mellon (0-1,1f), Liam Somers (1-1); Conor Jameson, Darragh Walker, Adam O’Leary (0-2); Cathal Byrne, Cian Doyle (0-7, 6f, 1 65, Des Byrne. Subs: Ryan Bardon (0-1), Seosamh Kelly, Jason Redmond, Danny Long.

Western Gaels: Meitheal Cleary; Senan Gardiner, James Sinnott, Finn Craul; Conor Manifold, Rory Martin (0-4, 1f), Ciaran Traynor; Luke Byrne (0-4, 4f), Rory Corrigan; Peter O’Connell, Charlie Chamney, Oisin O’Neill (0-1); Michael Long, David Peppard, Jack Martin. Subs: Charlie Clark, Martin O’Shea.

Referee: Chris Canavan (Avoca)

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