Russell Rovers Report

23 July, 2009

Russell Rovers GAA

Junior A Hurling Championship 3rd Round

Russell Rovers 3-14 St. Itas 2-8

Russell Rovers turned the tables on St. Itas in this 3rd round clash played at Castlemartyr on Monday evening last. On a totally calm, fine evening with an excellently prepared pitch, Rovers were quick off the mark and had their first score from a placed ball by Brian Hartnett inside the first minute. The opening sequences of play gave a taste of what was to come with St. Itas attacks being frustrated by the magnificent defending of our half-back line trio. Kevin Hartnett was in control in the centre and flanked by the two Fitzgeralds, Mattie and Barry, who were outstanding throughout, many of the Rovers attacks were launched from this area. While Itas levelled in the 4th minute from a free, a long low delivery up the left wing from Kevin Hartnett found his younger brother Brian who passed to Joseph Walsh at the edge of the square and Walsh buried the ball for Rovers first goal. Three minutes later Brian Hartnett picked up on another clearance to shoot his first point from play. A minute later Itas pulled one back from a free before Seamus Kearney, who had a mighty game at midfield, shot one over. On the quarter hour Barry Fitzgerald made a raid up the wing and shot over Rovers 4th point while Brian Hartnett added another from a free a minute later. Rovers were rampant in this period and one movement in the 18th minute started with Kearney and John Paul Ivers and then Mikie Walsh who delivered a great ball into Barry Hartnett in the far corner. Hartnett caught the ball cleanly and passed inside to Joseph Walsh who shook the back of the Itas net with a powerful drive for his second goal. With 9 points now separating the sides Rovers began to take the foot off the pedal a little and some defensive errors led to two 20-metre frees, the first of which found the back of Rovers net. In the meantime Matthew Fitzgerald fired over a great point from his own 65. Brian Hartnett converted another free in the 29th minute while Itas pointed from two more frees to leave the score at 2-7 to 1-5 at the break which left Rovers supporters scratching their heads that the Gortrue men were still in the game despite having had no score from play in the opening half.

Rovers dominance continued in the second half and while Itas had the opening score from a free in the 32nd minute, Barry Hartnett replied with one for Rovers in the 34th and Brian Hartnett stretched the lead with a free two minutes later. Itas converted another free but the Rovers response was swift and deadly as Anthony Walsh made a great run down the right wing and picked out Brian Hartnett with a pin-point cross-field pass. Hartnett shook off his marker, turned and unleashed a bullet of a shot into the far corner of the net for a peach of a goal, Rovers third in all.

Three unanswered points from Mikie Walsh, Dan Moynihan and Brian Hartnett saw us comfortably in front by the three-quarters stage with a margin of 11 points. The sides then exchanged points, theirs from a free and ours from Brian Hartnett, in the 50th minute. Indeed, but for some wayward shooting Rovers would have been well out of sight by this stage. Rovers used up their full quota of subs in the latter stages of the game when Ian Smiddy, Traolach Martin, John Ahern, Colin Crowley and Brian Crowley replaced Brian Hartnett, Joseph Walsh, Anthony Walsh, Daniel Moynihan and Anthony Archer with Brendan Kearney also coming on as a blood sub for John Paul Ivers. Despite the margin Itas never gave up the hunt and were rewarded with a goal, their only score from play , in the 58th minute. John Ahern completed the Rovers tally with a pointed free on the stroke of full time. Overall this was a fine team performance with all players showing great commitment and much improvement over previous outings. The feeling is that there is still more to be got out of this squad and with their next test, a quarter-final clash with Lisgoold, more will be needed. The game was excellently handled by referee Denis O'Flynn.

Team: Eoin Ivers; Anthony Archer, Padraig Higgins, Derek Crowley; Matt Fitzgerald (Capt) (0-1), Kevin Hartnett, Barry Fitzgerald (0-1); Seamus Kearney (0-1), Daniel Moynihan; Anthony Walsh, John Paul Ivers, Mikie Walsh (0-1); Barry Hartnett (0-1), Joseph Walsh (2-0), Brian Hartnett (1-7).

Subs: Ian Smiddy, Traolach Martin, John Ahern, Colin Crowley, Brian Crowley, Brendan Kearney Tadgh Crowley, Kevin Tattan, Kevin O'Brien, James Furlong, John Burke, Chris Scanlon, James Walsh, Barry O'Keeffe.