Knockbridge celebrate their Senior Special Hurling League Final win over Naomh Moninne. (Pic: Arthur Kinahan)
SPECIAL SENIOR HURLING LEAGUE FINAL
KNOCKBRIDGE 0-16 NAOMH MONINNE 0-11
Darver was the venue last Thursday night for the first of this year’s Louth adult hurling club finals where holders Naomh Moninne took on Knockbridge in the Final of the Special League with the ‘Colm Geary Cup’ the prize on offer.
Buoyed by their recent success in the Leinster League competition and an earlier victory over the same opponents in this competition, the Dundalk outfit went into this game confident of retaining this cup.
Both sides had their periods of dominance in the first half, a half that featured some heated exchanges throughout the pitch, but nothing separated the teams on the scoreboard as they reached the break on level terms.
Early dominance on the resumption saw Knockbridge really putting it up to the black and amber outfit, who as it turned out could only account for a solitary white flag throughout the second half.
Moninne were literally hit for six in the opening exchanges of this final with full forward Gavin Kerrigan firing over an early brace of points, the second of them from a free.
Shane Fennell added another point from play on six minutes before a further brace of pointed frees from Kerrigan and a second from play from Fennell had Knockbridge leading by 0-6 to 0-0 after 11 minutes.
Not to be outdone, holders Moninne struck back in style and within four minutes they were back on level terms. Seamus Mulhall fired over from the right wing and from the resultant puck out centre half Conor Murphy reduced the deficit to four.
A pointed free from Murphy, two from half back Stephen Rafferty and one from Ultan McEnaney had the teams tied at 0-6 apiece on the quarter hour.
Mark Wallace restored the Knockbridge lead with a good point from a tight angle, before two pointed frees from the experienced Diarmuid Murphy had Moninne in front for the first time on 23 minutes.
The younger of the Wallace brothers, Robert then tied up matters again as his effort went over with the assistance of the left-hand post.
Good approach work by Conor Murphy was rewarded when Cathal Azzopardi fired over and it was the latter who set up Kyle Judge for a good point to double the Dundalk side’s lead.
In the time that remained to the break, Gavin Kerrigan took his tally for the half to six points to leave the sides tied at 0-10 each at the break.
In contrast the second half proved to be a low scoring affair. The Moninne defence were guilty of giving away too many frees and were punished by Gavin Kerrigan who fired over four successive points, two of them from 20 metre frees to open up a four-points lead for Knockbridge on 39 minutes.
A point from a 65 metre free from Diarmuid Murphy would turn out to be his side’s only score of the second half, a statistic that will not please manager John Murphy. Midfielder Ben Goss Kieran restored the village side’s four point advantage with a good point on 50 minutes.
Needing a goal to give themselves any chance of retaining the cup, Moninne pressed hard and several goal scoring opportunities came and went as the Knockbridge defence held firm.
Centre half Conor Murphy instigated a brief bombardment on the Knockbridge goals as he saw one effort rebounding off the left hand post as Ultan McEnaney fired wide from close range.
Another effort from the manager’s son came off the back of the experienced Ronan Byrne as he threw his body in the way as the follow up again was off target.
A point from a long range free from top scorer Gavin Kerrigan wrapped up the victory for the Knockbridge side and they will now target a ‘Special’ competition double, with the Championship for the ‘Maurice Murphy Cup’ down for decision over the next couple of weeks.
KNOCKBRIDGE: Stephen Kettle; Aidan O’Brien, Conor Kerrigan, James Searson; Daire McKiernan, Ronan Byrne, Michael Keane; Ben Goss Kieran (0-1), Neil Thornton; Robert Wallace (0-1), David Kettle, Shane Fennell (0-2); Kevin McNally, Gavin Kerrigan (0-11, 0-7 frees), Mark Wallace (0-1). Subs: Kaylem Gorham, Niall Mackin, Tony Brennan.
NAOMH MONINNE: Donal Connolly; Donal Lee, Chris Lennon, Tadhg Litchfield; Stephen Rafferty (0-2), Darren O Hanrahan, Diarmuid Murphy (0-3 frees); James Murphy, David Yore; Ultan McEnaney (0-1), Conor Murphy (0-2, 0-1 free), Seamus Mulhall (0-1); Fionn Cumiskey, Cathal Azzopardi (0-1), Kyle Judge (0-1). Subs: Paul Challoner, Jack Mulvihill, Ronan Reid McEntaggert.
REFEREE: Kevin Brady.
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