O'LOUGHLIN GAELS 3-14 to 0-10 MULLINVAT
20th of May , 7.30pm at Ballyhale Referee: Michael O’Sullivan
The sun certainly didn't shine on Friday evening at a wet and windy Ballyhale when our Seniors met Mullinavat in the 3rd round of the Senior Hurling League but Mark Bergin’s performance certainly did. Accounting for 1-10 (5 f) of the 3-14 total the talisman was able to work his magic confident that those around him were on the same page. Confidence in each other's abilities is the key to this team’s recent good run..two wins under their belts going into this game including a dominant performance over reigning champions Clara has injected a unity amongst these lads that is set to drive them forward.
Their work rate was evident from the outset..Bergin pointed from play on the second minute and converted a free within another two minutes before Mark Kelly received a pass to see the sliotar to the net. A further Bergin point from play put the Gaels 1-3 to no score with just seven minutes on the clock. It would be the 8th minute before Mullinavat would register their first score but Mark Bergin added three more minors before Sammy Johnson hit the opposition's net for a second time on nineteen minutes. In truth Sammy could have had a goal earlier but for a little hesitation - as happens when you have too much time on your hands. Nineteen minutes gone and O’Loughlins lead 2- 6 to 0-1. If the O’Loughlins forwards were afforded time on the ball the same couldn't be said of their Mullinavat counterparts who met a defensive unit that is growing in strength with each outing. Alan O’Brien was immense at centre back. Mullinavat pucked out to his right for Paddy Butler to mop it up..and after a few failed attempts pucked to the other flank where Paddy Deegan gleefully took charge of his area..all the time Alan O’Brien was at hand to sweep up any mess. The full back.line was impenetrable..a rasper saved by Andy Kearns at the edge of the square, a definite point blocked, a goal saving hook by the same player combined with a brilliant reflex save by Billy Leydon in the first minute of the second half contributed to a total of 3-1 directly saved by a formidable defence. The first half would finish with a point from the industrious forward Martin Comerford bringing the score to 2-7 to 0-3 at the break.
With a strong wind now favouring Mullinavat the fear was this could be a game if two halves. It could have been but for the brilliance of goal keeper Billy Leydon. His reflex save was outstanding and must have broken the morale of the Mullinavat forwards. It strengthened the resolve of the Gaels and Leydons distribution on clearance was a contributing factor to the Gaels dominance in this second half. Mullinavat did hit a purple patch but couldn't capitalise and over a 15minute spell converted four points of eight attempts at the posts. O’Loughlins only had two in the same period and converted them both, one from the hardworking Alan Geoghegan and the other from the bas of Mark Bergin. From forty five minutes it was all O’Loughlins...David Burke would add a point before the game ended and that power horse Martin Comerford would convert his second. Mark Kelly broke ball, created chances and offloaded to players around him from the centre forward position with Mark Bergin reading all those breaks so well. The work rate was evident all over the field...corner backs Eddie Kearns and Anthony Forrestal put paid to any potential threat imposed by marksmen Fennelly and Walsh...mid -field partners David Burke and Paddy Cantwell were a combination of power and stick work to control their area and set up numerous attacks. Danny Loughnane worked tirelessly to insure no clearance from the Mullinavat lines was easy and Martin Comerford, Alan Geoghegan and Mark Kelly all made their presence felt up front. John Doyle entered the fray late in the half and was unlucky not to add a score of his own to the overall tally. As the game closed Bergin added a further goal and a point to his tally. The point he had no business scoring but when your gander is up nothing phases you….he chased a ‘lost cause’ out on the forty’..that pressure turned that lost cause into a 50/50 ball...from then the sliotar was always going to belong the craftier stick man..and with a deft touch and some close control Bergin flicked the ball over his shoulder into his hand and slung it over the bar. A fine point to end a fine performance and a lesson to all young players watching on...never give up on anything.
Three wins from three puts this team in prime position going into the penultimate stage of the league. It's a few weeks before they meet Danesfort but the training fields will tick over as they work to keep the momentum going. The lads are in a good place but will want to keep focused to be in the melting pot come the Autumn. Well done all...Hon d’loughs.
Team: B Leydon, A Forrestal, A Kearns, E Kearns, P Butler, A O’Brien, P. Deegan, P. Cantwell, D Burke (0-1), M Comerford (0-2), M Kelly (1-0), D Loughnane, S Johnson (1-0), M Bergin (1-10, 5f), A Geoghegan (0-1), J Doyle.