Kilkenny makes mark to undo Mearnogs

by Gazette Reporter

DESPITE a battling performance and leading at the midway point, there was heartbreak for Naomh Mearnog in the Dublin Intermediate Hurling Championship final as they lost out to Castleknock last Sunday.
David Kennedy’s side started this one the better in O’Toole Park and led 0-06 to 0-05 at half-time. It was first half in which the Portmarnock outfit were quicker to every ball. Whether it was from the puck-out or breaking ball in play, Mearnog were dominating.
The extra spring in their step may have come due to Mearnog having a week off from competitive action in the build-up to the game, while Castleknock only got through their semi-final four days earlier.
Pre-match Kennedy told GazetteSport he believed the extra time off might not prove to be much of an advantage and eventually he was proved right. It could have been different however, Castleknock boss Antoin O’Cleirigh said afterwards his side “could have been five or six behind at the break,” due to Mearnog’s superior physicality.
But the turning point was the half-time introduction of All-Ireland winner Ciaran Kilkenny. Even despite Kilkenny adding more physicality to Castleknock in their attack foray’s, Mearnog had a great chance to increase their lead after the restart when they were awarded a penalty but, in a moment that turned the game on its head, the chance was squandered.
The match had opened up, and there were chances for both teams but it was the Dublin 15 lads who found the scores with Niall O’Callaghan, Jamie Tunney and Frank Murray on target to see their side to victory.
Winning manager O’Cleirigh had high praise for the beaten North Dublin side afterwards. “We’d beaten Mearnog twice already this season, once in the league and once in the group stages of the championship,” he said. “It’s not too often you beat a team three times over the course of one season, especially a strong team like Naomh Mearnog, so again, we’re very happy,” added the manager.

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