Senior Hurling Championship R3: St Gabriels

posted 10 Apr 2015, 11:05 by Robert Emmetts PRO
22nd June, 2014
Robert Emmetts: 4-9
St Gabriels: 2-13

Going into Round 3 of the SHC our lads knew that a serious improvement was needed in order to restore our title challenge after our collapse against Brothers Pearse last time out. However current champions St Gabriels stood in our way.

There was a sense of urgency as our lads set about their task, and proceeded to match the Gabriels throughout the opening half. We welcomed back Ciaran Fitzpatrick to complete a very strong half-back line alongside Paul Horkan and Brendan Neylon. There were a couple of changes to the forward line, with Fergus McMahon slotting in on the wing and Mark Traynor starting in the top-right. The Emmetts defence, along with Cathal and Paddy in midfield, were proving to be well-able to handle every Gabriels attack, and up front our forwards were giving the opposition defence plenty to think about. The highlight of the first 30 minutes came when Mark Traynor created a goal from nothing, cleverly flicking a pass from inside a bunch of players near the endline. In an othwise tense half Fergus and Kevin McMullan knocked over a few frees between them, either side of a Rory Costello point from play to leave us deadlocked at 1-5 apiece at half time.

We suffered a blow during the break as we lost Ciaran Fitz, meaning that Fergus dropped to half-back and the forwards were re-jigged - John McCarthy making his first championship appearance in the corner. Gabriels raced out of the blocks on the restart and scored the first point of the half. However, unlike the last day, there was no collapse and we started to increase the pressure ourselves. A pointed free from Kevin was followed up by a good goal after Rory fielded a long ball on the edge of the square.  Our half-back line were soaking up every Gabriels attack, while Paddy Breen worked tirelessly alongside Cathal, who was giving an exhibition of midfield play with a mixture of first-time hurling, high fielding and brave defending. Sam Lehane also put his stamp on the match and got a very economical score after cleanly fielding a puck-out.

The Gabriels refused to lie down though and were rewarded for a period of sustained pressure by winning a 20 m free. London's Martin Finn stepped up and drilled the ball hard into the net to keep them in touch. We didn't let our concentration drop though, and continued to take the game to the Gabriels from 1 to 15. Jonathan Hanley was putting in another impressive display in goal, confidently coming off his line when needed, claiming several high balls under his own crossbar and directing his backs well. Our efforts soon resulted in a third goal followed by a quick Cathal Keogh point to keep us on the front foot. It was still nip-and-tuck, with only a couple of points separating the teams, when we got a lucky break - a long clearance from Paul Horkan hit the hard sod just outside the 20 m line and deceived the St Gabriels goalkeeper by spinning and dipping under the crossbar. The match was far from over though and the opposition laid siege to us, chipping away with a few long-range points to leave just three between us as we entered the final minutes of the match. A tense finish ensued and Jonathan was called into action as he showed lightning reflexes to deflect over a rasping shot that came through a thicket of hurleys. The final whistle then sounded, much to our relief, and we were able to enjoy our first championship win of the year.