Kilmallock see off Portaferry to book final berth
Limerick side will meet Ballyhale Shamrocks after they were far too strong for Down men
Eye on the ball: Eoin Ryan of Kilmallockin Mullingar. Photograph: Donall Farmer / Inpho
Munster champions Kilmallock proved much too strong for their Ulster counterparts Portaferry in a disappointing All-Ireland club senior hurling semi-final, played in ideal conditions at Mullingar on Saturday afternoon.
A point from the first half’s outstanding performer Bryan O’Sullivan after 35 seconds, followed by a goal within a minute from Paddy O’Loughlin set the tone for the afternoon. Paul Braniff’s accuracy from placed balls kept Portaferry in touch, with their only score from play in the first half coming in the 20th minute via Kevin McGarry.
Kilmallock were the better balanced outfit in virtually every sector and the Limerick men hooked and blocked their opponents to great effect whenever danger threatened, while goalkeeper Barry Hennessy was rock solid behind a powerful defence.
Braniff was uncharacteristically wide twice in quick succession approaching the interval, from a free and open play, before opting to take a point from a routine free, with many spectators expecting the Mourne County sharpshooter to go for a goal. Kilmallock were full value for their five-point interval lead (1-8 to 0-6).
Paudie O’Brien and Braniff traded points within a minute of the resumption. However, with O’Sullivan and O’Brien dominating the exchanges in and around midfield, there was never any real sign of a serious comeback by the very wholehearted Down men on the change of ends, as Kilmallock scored a range of great points in a one-sided third quarter.
Two such scores within a minute of each other from the sticks of Jake Mulcahy and Kevin O’Donnell epitomised the gulf in class between the sides.
Already 12 points to the good (1-17 to 0-8), Graeme Mulcahy’s well taken goal in the 50th minute, when neatly picked out by a kicked pass from Eoin Ryan, copper-fastened a comfortable win for the Limerick side.
Portaferry battled gamely to the last whistle and Eoghan Sands’s late point was their best score of a forgettable afternoon from their perspective.
Kilmallock manager, Ger ‘Sparrow’ O’Loughlin is likely to have wanted a much sterner challenge in the penultimate round, as five-times Tommy Moore Cup champions Ballyhale Shamrocks will be an entirely different proposition on St Patrick’s Day in Croke Park.
However, the underdogs’ cause will be boosted by the appearance of former intercounty star Andrew O’Shaughnessy in the closing stages of this facile win.
KILMALLOCK: B Hennessy; L Hurley, M O’Loughlin, A Costello; L Walsh, Philip O’Loughlin, K O’Donnell (0-2, one free); P O’Brien (0-1), B O’Sullivan (0-4); J Mulcahy (0-1), Paddy O’Loughlin (1-0), R Egan (0-1); E Ryan (0-7, four frees), K Kennelly, G Mulcahy (1-2). Subs: R Hanley for Kennelly (45 mins), C Barry (0-1) for J Mulcahy (54 mins), A O’Shaughnessy for Paddy O’Loughlin (56 mins), J Meade for M O’Loughlin (57 mins), D Joy for Walsh (60 mins)
PORTAFERRY: K Keating; C Taggart, C O’Neill, C O’Prey; C Coulter, J Convery, M Conlan; A Savage, C Mageean (0-1); A O’Prey, P Braniff (0-9, six frees, one ’65’), K McGarry (0-1); S Mageean, E Sands (0-1), R Magee. Subs: S Murray for Magee (38 mins), N White for Taggart (inj., 50 mins), B Trainor for McGarry (54 mins), B Coleman for S Mageean (57 mins).
Referee: J Keenan (Wicklow)