KNOCKBRIDGE reclaimed the Avonmore Louth Senior Hurling Championship crown when they crushed Mattock’s dream of a first title in a one-sided game at Dunleer on Sunday.
The Mid Louth side took control of the game and the result was rarely in doubt as they dominated their more inexperienced opponents.
In a game made difficult by the wet conditions, Gavin Kerrigan lit up the first half with a superb goal from an acute angle to help his side to a 1-9 to 0-4 lead at the break.
Mattock had the wind at their backs in the second half and enjoyed a good share of possession in the third quarter but were unable to translate that into scores.
Knockbridge’s class told in the end and late goals from Shane Fennell and Paudie Kieran saw them ease to victory.
Going into the game as hot favourites, Knockbridge were determined not to give Mattock a foothold in the match and with the aid of a strong wind, hit the ground running from the opening whistle.
The wet conditions made it very difficult for both sides but Knockbridge made the most of the breeze in their backs to take control.
Captain Ronan Byrne led by example with the opening point on two minutes before Shane Fennell, Kevin McNally and David Kettle made it 0-4 to no score on six minutes.
Mattock looked to be struggling with occasion at that stage but they did get off the mark on 12 minutes through a Jonathan Matthews free.
Although Gerard McKeown replied for Knockbridge, Niall McEneaney and Jason Condon sent over the next two scores to leave the gap at just 0-5 to 0-3 on 19 minutes.
At that point there was a real possibility that Mattock determination would help them remain within striking distance at the break.
However, the game turned back in Knockbridge’s favour in the 22nd minute when Gavin Kerrigan fired in the first goal of the game. In a game where handling was difficult, the corner forward showed a deft touch to pick up the sliotar after Rory O’Reilly advanced from his goal, and from an acute angle found the top corner.
When Shane Fennell and Shane Kerrigan pointed to make it 1-7 to 0-3, the whole complexion of the game had changed.
Jonathan Matthews added another for Mattock but Fennell sent over the last two points of the half to see his side lead by 1-9 to 0-4.
It was always going to be difficult for Mattock in the second half but to their credit they battled gamely. Kevin McNally and Darren Reid exchanged scores at the start of the second half but despite an increased share of possession, the Collon side couldn’t produce the early scores they needed to give themselves hope.
Adrian Wallace and Jonathan Matthews traded points before Shane Kennedy, playing on his home patch, landed a fine point with his first touch after coming in as sub to make it 1-12 to 0-6.
Mattock needed a goal to stay in the game but it was Knockbridge who showed their superior class in front of goal as McNally set up Fennell to fire in the second goal and put the result beyond any doubt at 2-12 to 0-6.
Once again, Mattock battled bravely but Knockbridge’s superiority and cohesion saw them retain a commanding lead at 2-15 to 0-10 on 55 minutes. Substitute Paudie Kieran then put the icing on the cake when he fired home a third goal on 57 minutes after being set up by Shane Kennedy.
Overall it was a deserved victory for Knockbridge who showed great determination to reclaim the Paddy Kelly Cup.
The defensive unit was solid throughout and didn’t allow Mattock to get into any rhythm with captain Ronan Byrne leading by example.
Shane Kerrigan turned ina Man of the Match display in midfield, while Shane Fennell was in impressive in front of the posts, while Adrian Wallace was lively when introduced for the second half.
For Mattock, Darren Reid and Declan Madden worked hard, particularly in the first half, while Jason Condon battled well in the middle. Jonathan Matthews landed some good scores was lively in the first half without getting any real reward.
Scorers – Knockbridge: Shane Fennell (1-4), Kevin McNally, Adrian Wallace (0-3 each), Paudie Kieran, Gavin Kerrigan (1-0 each), Ronan Byrne (0-2), David Kettle, Shane Kerrigan, Gerard McKeown, Shane Kennedy (0-1 each).
Mattock Rangers: Jonathan Matthews (0-4), Jason Condon (0-3), Michael Callan, Niall McEneaney, Darren Reid (0-1 each).
KNOCKBRIDGE: Brendan McNally; Mark Wallace, James Quigley, Niall Byrne; Conor Kerrigan, Ronan Byrne, Daire McKiernan; David Dunne, Shane Kerrigan; Liam O’Leary, Shane Fennell, Gerard McKeown; Gavin Kerrigan, David Kettle, Kevin McNally. Subs: Adrian Wallace for L O’Leary, HT; Shane Kennedy for G McKeown, 42 mins; Gavin Kane for K McNally, 53 mins, Paudie Kieran for G Kerrigan, Darragh Herr for D Kettle.
MATTOCK RANGERS: Rory O’Reilly; Ciaran Maguire, Alan Mynes, Francis O’Brien; Darren Reid, Eoin McKeown, Declan Madden; Gary Rellis, Jason Condon; Jonathan Matthews, Michael Callan, Edward Condon; Niall McEneaney, Diarmuid McCarthy, Shane Maguire. Subs: Aidan Carter for E McKeown, 10 mins; Paddy Coyle for D McCarthy, 41 mins; Graham Condon for M Callan.
REFEREE: Brian Brady.