It was back to Watergrasshill again on Saturday night as our Junior B Hurlers make their championship bow against a fancied Dungourney side in perfect conditions for hurling. The game was played in a great spirit throughout by both sides, hard and fair and well managed by referee Maurice Mulcahy from Lisgoold. Carraig fielded a strong side, backboned by experienced players like Colm O’Reilly, Shane Horgan and Nicky Pike, but for the main it was a youthful side, with no less than five players making their Junior Championship debuts, Cathal Cronin, Conor Hayes, Oisín Crowley, Brendan Murphy and Conor O’Brien, all of whom are under 17 this year.
Dungourney nearly got a dream start in this one, when a long delivery was speculatively flicked goalwards in the opening minute, but the ball drifted right and wide of Brian Sheehans goal and thereafter Carraig began to dominate proceedings. Four points without reply in the opening 7 minutes gave us an early lead,with Oisín Crowley punishing any indiscretions in the Dungourney defence from placed balls and also contributing with a great point from play, while Paul O’Keeffe also found his range after a driving run at the heart of the defence. Our backs were putting Dungourney under huge pressure and the point of the game also came from a defender, when team captain William Spillane caught a clearance on his own 45, made space on the right wing and launched a huge point from his own 65 to put us 0-05 to 0-01 ahead after 10 minutes. Carraig were finding scores that bit easier to come by, with O’Keeffe and Brendan Murphy finding the target again either side of a free from Oisín, while Dungourney got their first point from play after 24 minutes to leave the score 0-08 to 0-03 in our favour. The sides traded two further points before half time, as we lead on a half time score of Carraig 0-10 Dungourney 0-05.
Carraig started the second half well and Conor Hayes proved to be the key man in the early stages. He scored a point in the opening seconds of the half after great work at midfield by Barrie Casey and Nicky Pike. Then, after some excellent play on the right wing, Oisín saw a powerful shot saved, but Conor was on hand to work a point from the rebound. He followed this up with another excellent pass in the next attack to put Brendan Murphy clear and he made no mistake to extend our lead to 0-13 to 0-06 shortly after Dungourney had got their opening score.
The expected Dungourney fightback began to materialise, as the Carraig rearguard began to see more action. Some excellent hooks and blocks from our defence denied the Duns a few certain scores, but by the 41st minute there was just 4 points between the sides, 0-15 to 0-11. Joe O’Donnell and Cathal Cronin defended superbly, ably assisted by the hardworking Shane Horgan at full back.
Further points from the increasingly threatening Paul O’Keeffe extended our lead again, while Oisin notched another free after 50 minutes to put us 7 in front, 0-18 to 0-11. From here on, both defences got on top and while Dungourney did manage to add two late points, Carraig stood strong and denied any clear goal chances which would have brought Dungourney back into the game. Referee Maurice Mulcahy called for full time and we were through to Round 3 on a scoreline of 0-18 to 0-13.
A good win for Carraig, building on the momentum of the win v Carrigtwohill last week in the A Championship. Everyone played their part and with players to return from injury and holidays before the next round, the team can look forward with confidence to the knockout stages of the Championship.
B.SheehanC.Cronin, S.Horgan, C.Cooney;
W.Splliane, C.O’Reilly, J.O’Donnell;
C.Hayes, P.O’Keeffe, J.Murphy;
O.Crowley, B.Murphy, C.O’Brien;
A.Sheehan for C.O’Brien
S.Casey for B.Casey
S. O’Sullivan for C.Hayes
M.Crowley, F.Deane, M.Ahern