Newmarket edged out Croke Rovers by 2-13 to 1-13 in an evenly contested minor hurling championship encounter at Rockchapel on Monday evening.
Croke Rovers opened the scoring on a perfect playing surface with a point in the first minute. Newmarket levelled two minutes later with Gavin Forde on target from a long distance free. Points from Donal Hannon and Barry O’Connor edged Newmarket in front before the first goal of the night arrived in the tenth minute. Barry O’Connor delivered a probing ball towards the Croke Rovers goal which was flicked by Con McAuliffe into the path of Danny O’Connell and the Newmarket corner forward made no mistake as he placed his well struck ground stroke into the corner of the net.
Croke Rovers replied with a point but a Donal Hannon free gave Newmarket a lead of 1-4 to 0-2 midway through the half. The game became very disjointed with numerous stoppages in play and little flow to the game. However, Croke Rovers steadily made inroads on the scoreboard and by the twenty second minute, four unanswered points cut the deficit to a minimum. Donal Hannon was on target from a free for the final score of the half in the twenty third minute as Newmarket held on to a slender lead of 1-5 to 0-6 at the midway point.
Donal Hannon pointed a free within two minutes of the restart but Croke Rovers gathered momentum as four points by the ninth minute turned the scoreboard in their favour for the first time since the opening minute of the game. Newmarket answered the challenge with Eoin O’Connell and Alan Ryan inspiring from the back and Jack Guiney making a big impact on being introduced in attack.
Talisman, Donal Hannon levelled the sides and crucially for Newmarket they created a vital second goal moments later. Patrick Kelly did well in possession to find Gavin Forde who launched a huge strike towards the Croke Rovers goalmouth, with plenty to do and the odds in favour of the defenders, Jack Guiney did superbly to get to the pitch of the ball and guide it expertly to the back of the net.
This score inspired Newmarket and three points from Donal Hannon, the third excellently crafted by Padraig Allen and Alan Ryan suddenly established a six point lead. A dogged Croke Rovers replied with two points as the game entered the final ten minutes. Newmarket maintained the initiative as again Donal Hannon pointed and when influential substitute Michael Cottrell scored two well taken points in a matter of seconds, Newmarket now had a lead of seven points.
Once again, Croke Rovers rallied and a quickfire goal ensured a nervy conclusion. A point followed as just a goal separated the sides going into injury time. Newmarket held out and resisted the late challenge to progress at the end of a closely fought contest.
The Newmarket team and scorers…
Donal Hannon (0-9), Danny O’Connell (1-0), Jack Guiney (1-0), Michael Cottrell (0-2), Gavin Forde (0-1), Barry O’Connor (0-1).
|Eoin O'Connell||Jamie Hayes||Liam Birthley|
|Alan Ryan||Gavin Forde||Paudie Allen|
|Patrick Kelly||Daniel O'Doherty|
|Adrian Carroll||Jacko Flaherty||Barry O'Connor|
|Con McAuliffe||Donal Hannon||Danny O'Connell|
|Subs: Jack Guiney, Michael Cottrell, Shane Carroll, Jeremy Murphy.|