Lámh Dhearg bow out at hands of Mooncoin
Junior Hurling Championship semi-final: Mooncoin (Kilkenny) 5-11 Lámh Dhearg (Antrim) 0-8
MOONCOIN of Kilkenny booked their place in the All-Ireland JHC final following an impressive 18-point victory over Lámh Dhearg in Trim yesterday.
The Antrim and Ulster champions were without the services of six first-team players through suspension following their provincial final victory over Sean Mac Cumhaill of Donegal.
With incessant rain falling on the playing surface from early in the afternoon, conditions were always going to be tricky for both sets of players.
Lámh Dhearg held their own in a cagey opening few minutes but they were rocked by the concession of two goals in the space of three minutes.
Both goals were scored by Mooncoin corner-forward Michael Grace.
The first came after Paddy Joe Herron’s attempted clearance was blocked down while the second came as a result of slick passing from Seamus Kearns and Sean Walsh to set up Grace on seven minutes.
A free from Paddy Cunningham was the only reply in a nightmare start from Lámh Dhearg.
However, Mooncoin failed to build on their dominant opening and the Hannahstown men fought their way back with Michael Herron and Domhnall Nugent leading the charge.
They trailed 2-4 to 0-5 at the break thanks to points from Cunningham (two frees), Terry McCrudden and a monster free from the excellent Herron.
The gap might have been closer but Eoin Purcell made a smart save to deny Lámh Dhearg full-forward Joe Doone from an acute angle.
Upon the restart, the Kilkenny champions quickly reasserted their superiority and a remarkable burst of four points from play from wing-forward Ray Wall and a goal from John Fitzgerald put Mooncoin 3-8 to 0-6 ahead with 45 minutes played.
Grace was denied his hat-trick when Lámh Dhearg goalkeeper Herron made a stunning pointblank save but, as the challenge from the Hannahstown men petered out in the closing minutes, Mooncoin cut loose and injurytime goals from Fitzgerald and full-forward Eamonn Hennebry secured a facile win for Joe Murphy’s side.
The late goals were slightly harsh on the Red Hands, who battled gamely against the odds for large periods of the game but there was no disputing the gulf in class between the sides.
Speaking after the game, Lámh Dhearg manager Simon Wilson felt his side were always going to be up against it playing without the banned sextet of Declan Lynch, Paddy Mervyn, Brendan McComb, Conor McConville, Ryan Diamond and Michael McGuigan.
“It was always going to be tough playing any team, especially one from Kilkenny, when you’re six men down,” said Wilson.
“Your backs are against the wall before the ball is throw in.
“I knew it would take a very good team to beat us because we showed during our Ulster campaign that we are a very hard team to beat.
“To be fair, the boys never gave up and they fought to the very end. They are a credit to themselves and they are a credit to the club.”