Birr made to battle


Leinster Club HC Quarter-finals: Birr 0-17 Naomh Eoin 2-7 The Leinster and All-Ireland hurling champions, Birr, had to call on their experience to overcome Naomh Eoin who did Carlow hurling proud in their Leinster quarter-final at Dr Cullen Park, Carlow, yesterday.

Birr are still on course for a third successive All-Ireland title but from an early stage they realised this would be no cakewalk.

Naomh Eoin scored the opening three points in as many minutes through Shane Kavanagh (free), Robert Foley and Des Murphy (free).

Birr responded and created a number of goalscoring chances in the opening half but a combination of fine goalkeeping from Edmund Spruhan, allied to good defensive work and poor finishing, denied the Offaly men a goal and after an even first half the sides were tied at 0-7 each.

Five minutes after the restart Naomh Eoin went in front when Robert Foley scored a goal after good work by Des Murphy. Birr hit back immediately with a fine point by Stephen Browne.

Showing their renowned teamwork the champions then went on to score a series of unanswered points which gave them a six-point lead.

Naomh Eoin hit back with a late goal from substitute Pádraig Quirke but Birr midfielder Rory Hanniffy made matters safe with a point from play.

BIRR: B Mullins; G Cahill, J Errity, JP O'Meara; D Franks, B Whelahan, N Claffey; P O'Meara (0-1), R Hanniffy (0-7, 5 frees); P Molloy (0-3), D Pilkington, G Hanniffy, S Browne (0-4), J Pilkington, D Hayden (0-2).

NAOMH EOIN: E Spruhan; A Keogh, P Keogh, MJ Fox; K Nolan, S Kavanagh (0-1, free), T Menshin; D Roberts, K Nolan; A Curry, R Foley (1-2), J Watters (0-2); B Murphy, D Murphy (0-2, frees), J Quirke. Subs: J Donoghue for A Keogh; A Quirke for Kavanagh; P Jordan for J Quirke; P Quirke (1-0) for B Murphy; S Smithers for Watters.

Referee: S Whelan (Wexford).