Russell Rovers GAA Club News

01 July, 2014

Russell Rovers Club News
Russell Rovers  2-12    Midleton 3-14
Five points separated the sides as our Junior hurlers lost out to Midleton in the first round of the 2014 Championship campaign played in perfect conditions at Castlemartyr on Saturday evening last. The team now has one week to regroup before they attempt to get their season hopes back on track through the back door.  Much was expected from this side who have had an encouraging League campaign with six wins out of seven to date. But Championship hurling is a different matter and the intensity of the play showed up weaknesses in the team which may not have been so apparent before now. There could be no criticism of the commitment and effort put in by our players on the night, as down to a man they tried their best.  Each player did well for periods of the game but, looking back on it, there was no outstanding  performance which would have been needed to overcome this skilful and tough Magpies outfit.
After conceding two easy frees which were converted, our opening score came from a Kieran Walsh 65 in the third minute. Two minutes later some good play by James Kennefick led to a great goal from Kevin Tattan and in the seventh minute Jack McGrath was on target with a lovely shot from near the sideline about 40 yards out. But the Midleton forwards were causing all sorts of trouble when in possession and were rewarded with a point and a goal in quick succession before Ian Smiddy levelled matters with a free in the ninth minute. The sides exchanged pointed frees before Jack McGrath put us in front again with a point from play. A third pointed free from Smiddy in the 17th minute had us two points ahead but amazingly we were not to score again for the rest of the half. Worse than that, things seemed to go wrong for us all over the field in the last 10 minutes with many self-inflicted errors which were punished by the accurate shooting of the Midleton forwards and their free-taker, resulting in they scoring a further 1-6 to lead at the interval by 7 points (2-10 to1-6). 
Worse was to follow after the break. The second half was barely a minute old when Midleton pounced for their third goal but positional changes soon shored up the Rovers defence. Barry Fitzgerald introduced at cornerback was to impress while Kevin Ivers moved to the fullback berth and Matt Fitzgerald to right half-back. Slowly but surely Rovers began to eat into the Midleton lead. Despite having two 20 metre frees blocked by the Midleton defence early in the half in the 36th and 38th minutes, when we badly needed a goal to get us back in the game, Ian Smiddy  converted  three frees, McGrath got his third point from play  at the three-quarter mark to reduce the deficit to two goals. Smiddy was on hand to shoot over his only score from play when he took a pass from Kevin Tattan after the latter had made a great burst up field. Midleton replied with two points on the trot before Jack McGrath brought the difference back to four points with a goal in the 54th minute. A pointed free from Smiddy gave us hope when only a goal separated the sides with three minutes to go. Sadly for us there was to be no fairytale ending as the final two scores went to the Magpies who went out deserving winners with five points to spare. In fairness to the Rovers they never gave up the hunt despite being 10 points down early in the second half but they will have to hurl with more consistency and intensity if they are to progress in this competition.
The match was well handled by referee Arthur Murphy, Killeagh and his team of linesmen and umpires. Our thanks to Castlemartyr GAA Club for having the pitch and facilities in such fine order.
Team: Joseph Walsh; Anthony Archer, Matt Fitzgerald, Kevin Ivers; Daniel Moynihan, John Paul Ivers (Captain), Paul Lane; Kieran Walsh, John Ahern; James Kennefick, Derek Crowley, Jack McGrath; Kevin O’Brien, Ian Smiddy, Kevin Tattan. Subs: Barry Fitzgerald, Eoin McGrath, Brian Whelehan (all used), Christopher Scanlon, James Ahern, Aidan Beausang, Shane Casey, Brian Crowley, Daire Healy, Kevin Moynihan, James Moynihan, Daniel O’Brien, Ricky Walsh, David Whelehan, Seamus Kearney , Alan Cott.
Rovers stalwart Eoin Ivers, who has been injured since the start of the season, hadn’t  missed out on a hurling Championship appearance since he first  played Junior with the club in 2001 at the age of 15! We wish you a speedy recovery, Eoin !
By the time this report goes to print, details of our second round game and opponents will be known following a meeting of the East Cork Board on Monday night, 30th. The game is likely to be played next Saturday evening, 5th July. Check locally for details.