Naomh Eoin pull away in second half to confirm knock out stage qualification

Back 02/09/2022 @ 00:04 | hurlingnews | Naomh Eoin pull away in second half to confirm knock out stage qualification

This Sligo Senior Hurling Championship tie promised to be a high scoring affair based on recent results from both teams and it turned out that way with both teams having purple patches throughout an exciting encounter in Kent Park last Sunday afternoon.

The home side, Naomh Eoin, got off to the better start with early points from influential centre forward Paul Kilcoyne and the direct running game of centre back Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch before the visitors, Coolera Strandhill, got off the mark after 3 minutes with fine points from John Cosgrove and Kieran Prior.

Paul Kilcoyne added a further score from distance and also fired a number of points wides as he dominated the half forward line with some excellent possessions and aerial play. However, by the 10th minute Coolera were leading 0-5 to 0-3 as their incisive passing and robust midfield play started to impact possession and scoring opportunities which were accurately converted by corner forward Eddie O’Donaghue with two well-taken points and the impressive Kevin Banks from his midfield berth.

Tony O’Kelly-Lynch reduced the deficit from a well struck free from centre field but Coolera continued to dominate with some aggressive tackling and accurate shooting as John Cosgrove added another fine point lobbed over from 20m out and Kieran Prior with a super point from the left wing to extend their lead to three points. At the half way point in the first period Coolera’s dominance was further extended to 6 points when full forward Shane Brenan fired a goal from outside the small square past Naomh Eoin keeper Matt Davey, the result of an excellent chipped pass from Eddie O’Donaghue who was dominating the right corner forward berth with some enterprising moves and passes.

Naomh Eoin were visibly rattled and this was evidenced by some poor wides from good positions as the industry of Matt Davey, Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch, Cathal Jordan and Tony O’Kelly-Lynch was not rewarded. Thomas Davis did fire over on the run from his left corner forward to convert an excellent passing move, showing glimpses of what was to come in the second half from the home team. However, Coolera got a further boost as Shane Brenan burst the net to finish an attack instigated by Kevin Banks who fired a great pass into the full forward following an unstoppable solo from centre field. The proficient and calm skills of Naomh Eoin keeper Matt Davey was keeping his side in the game and half back Fergal O’Kelly-Lynch ventured forward to show his forwards how it should be done as he wriggled past a determined Coolera backline to lob over. This point was quickly followed by another from wing forward Michael Munnelly to reduce the arrears to six points, 0-7 to 2-7.

Ronan Redmond powered forward to add another score to the Coolera tally and the speedy Liam O’Kelly-Lynch fired over his first point as the home team started to compete more effectively with their rivals. John Cosgrove was having an excellent game and added a third point from the wing with Tony O’Kelly-Lynch replying with a first point from play. Shane Brenan converted a nice score following some good interplay with Larry Cadden and Conor Gillen and by the 25th minute Kevin Banks stretched the Coolera lead to 2-11 to 0-9 as he fired over on the turn from the left. Naomh Eoin did respond well when their most effective performer, Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch, converted a super run to goal following a dominant run and one-two with Paul

Kilcoyne finishing with an unstoppable strike past Coolera keeper Luke Comeford, who was excellent throughout with some excellent saves and puckouts.

Paul Kilcoyne added a late score from a well-worked passing move from some 50m out to further reduce the deficit at half-time to five points, 1-10 to 2-12.

Naomh Eoin manager, John Doyle, made a key switch at the start of the second half, when former county captain, Niall Feehily, was sent on to shore up the full back line, with Cathal Jordan oved up to centre half back and Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch moved to full forward to add scoring firepower to the full forward line. This move worked a treat as Naomh Eoin, following an initial period when scores were swapped between Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch and Kieran Prior from a free, started to dominate proceedings for the remainder of the game in a devastating display of incisive possession hurling. Liam O’Kelly-Lynch launched this dominance with two quick scores from the right wing and Paul Kilcoyne brought the arrears back to two points with another fine strike from the centre forward slot, combing well with Tony O’Kelly-Lynch, who had an excellent second half. The Naomh Eoin midfielder added a score from play and two from frees to fire his side into a one-point lead within 10 minutes of the restart. His brother Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch grabbed another point from play, as he capitalised on errors from a now demoralised Coolera defence. Tony O’Kelly-Lynch then added another score from a free, as Coolera struggled to hold back a rejuvenated Naomh Eoin, to make the score 1-19 to 2-13, a three-point lead by the 40th minute mark in the second half.

Naomh Eoin talisman, Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch added another two points to his tally of 1-5, all from play, as Coolera found the county star in top form in a more familiar full forward role. Further key scores from Paul Kilcoyne on 51 minutes and Liam O’Kelly-Lynch on 53 minutes added a brace of well-taken goals to the considerable Naomh Eoin tally before Shane Brenan responded for Coolera with a point from outside the square, which was too late and too little to have any impact on the result, with the home side now leading 3-21 to 2-14.

Michael Munnelly, Cathal Jordan and Tony O’Kelly-Lynch (2) added further points and the likes of Paul O’Brien, Niall Feehily, and Arthur Wall contributed to the Naomh Eoin resurgence through improved tackling, tracking and passing in the second half. The final score of 3-25 to 2-14 was an accurate indication of the dominance of the Sligo town team in the second half, and despite a super effort by Coolera Strandhill in the first period, they powered to a deserved win in what was an entertaining and skilful contest.

Both teams may meet again in the SHC semi-finals in October with one round left to play at the end of September, and on the basis of the Coolera first half performance the next encounter could make this an interesting tie to potentially determine the final opponents for defending champions Easkey.

Naomh Eoin, however, have notched up an early blow over rivals Coolera Strandhill in the race for the 2022 championship title which could offer more surprises and entertainment in the coming weeks.

At Kent Park, teams and scorers:

Naomh Eoin: Matt Davey; Donal Keaveny, Cathal Jordan 0-1, Donal Fidgeon; Fergal O’Kelly-Lynch 0-1, Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch 1-5, Arthur Wall; Tony O’Kelly-Lynch 0-8 (5f), Paul O’Brien; Liam O’Kelly-Lynch 1-5, Paul Kilcoyne 1-4, Michael Munnelly 0-2; Thomas Davis 0-1, Edwin Mullane, Evan Davey. Subs used: Niall Feehily, Joe Carroll, Ethan Scully & Niall Campbell.

Coolera/Strandhill: Luke Comerford; Niall Cadden, Colm Scanlon, James O’Connor; Ronan Redmond 0-1, Marc Harkin, David Joyce; Kevin Banks 0-2, Conor Gillen; Kieran Prior 0-3 (1f), Larry Cadden, John Cosgrove 0-4; Richard Harkin, Shane Brenan 2-2, Eddie O’Donaghue 0-2. Subs used: Colm Ryan, Cormac Heneghan.

Referee: Kieran O’Donnell.