Nolan and O’Donoghue deal damage as Crotta O’Neills overpowers Ballyheigue in SHC opener

COUNTY SHC GROUP 3 Round 1

Crota O’Neills 2-16

Ballihage 1-10

Shane Nolan may or may not have played his last intercountry game in Kerry’s green and gold (only time will tell in this situation), but captain Crota O’Neill was in excellent shape for his club as County SHC got underway at Austin Stack Park this evening.

Faced with the third set in the first round with a Ballyheigue that never rose to any great heights, with weather conditions not making things easy for the champions, Nolan was always the most influential character in the game, whether he found himself in the middle of the park or on the inside of the front line.

Ten points in total from the long-serving Kingdom star (including four points of play) was undoubtedly a match-winning contribution, with a two-goal blast in the second quarter from full striker Declan O’Donoghue, playing a pivotal role as well. His role in Crota’s nearly trouble-free passage to his first championship win of the season.

While the likes of Ryan McElligott, Rory Mahony and Sean Weir have also been consistently solid for the winners, Nolan’s drive throughout, and O’Donoghue’s ruthlessness when he got his chances were the proverbial rocks that the Ballyheigue Challenge doomed.

The first half was a tale of Crota’s possession and territorial dominance, even as Ballihage took the strong winds to their advantage. Trying as best they could, the underdogs simply struggled to win enough dirty ball in their front section, constantly living off the scraps as a result.

Three pointed releases from Nolan gave Kelflin’s men the early lead before Nathan Guerin (free) Ballihaj slipped off the mark in the 12th minute, but with the latter starting to get up and running, and a spirited James Sheehan in front, Crotta held onto a 0-5 lead for 0- 2 at the end of the first quarter.

However, with Michael Lane continuing to dominate Jordan Conway, fellow international superstar Colin Walsh quickly stormed into Ballyheigue’s procedures, racking up an impressive puck out, driving and setting forward Philip Lucid for a superb 16th minute goal to truly ignite the challenge.

When Walsh was promptly fouled by another Guerin foul, Ballyheigue was in the lead for the first time in the game, 1-3 to 0-5, but that was as good as the stuff it would have for them. Crota striker O’Donoghue was about to make sure of that.

The exorcist Nolan (by two points on the rebound) regained the lead for Crota before No. 14 made his presence felt massively, scoring in the net with great calm after being assisted by Cillian Trant in the 23rd minute, 1 7 to 1-3.

Next, hard-working Willem O’Sullivan and Nolan exchanged good points from play, and with Guerin’s shot on another freestyle, Ballyheigue hoped to enter at the break within a few points of their opponents.

However, two minutes into stoppage time, after Sheehan’s shot, O’Donoghue, after finally ignoring cornerback Simi Foran’s challenge, went straight back into the jugular, his rocket into the top corner of the net. It was a sickening kick for Ballyheigue, and an inspiring nudge to his side, just before the break to make it 2-8 to 1-5.

Now, with a six-point cushion and with the elements in their favor on appeal, Crotta might have been expected to pull out comprehensively, but in a second half that certainly didn’t set him on fire any significant score, Ballyheigue deserves credit for delivering him away to the bitter finish.

Midfielder Walsh and cornerback O’Sullivan, in particular, continued to do their best to instigate a recovery from mid-sea, but with an overwhelmingly over-reliance on Guerin’s free play for the majority of their points (0-9 on total from placed balls), he was not. That’s enough to make Crotta rattle.

Conway (who wasn’t at his best on the night) briefly hit things with two points of play for crota in the third quarter, and eventually the winners were still comfortable, 2-12 to 1-8, with the game somewhat faded from there Till the end.

Ballyheigue managed to cut the difference to five points, but, disappointingly from their point of view, failed to score in the last 15 minutes (including stoppage time), and it was Crota who crossed the winning post, always Weir, the man . -From the match, Nolan and goal champion O’Donoghue, in a decent manner, scored the remaining four points.

Crota O’Neills: Adam Sullivan. Ryan McLegott, Bill Kane, Sean McGrath; Rory Mahoney, Shaun Weir 0-1, Tudge McKenna; Thomas O’Connor, Shane Nolan 0-10 (6F); Killian Trant, Dara O’Donoghue 0-1, Sean O’Donoghue; James Sheehan 0-1, Declan O’Donoghe 2-1, Jordan Conway 0-2. subs: Dennis Nolan for S O’Donoghue (44 minutes), Darragh Kennelly for Sheehan (54 minutes), Dominic Nolan for O’Connor (59 minutes), Cormac White for Darragh O’Donoghue (62 minutes).

palliativeCormac Slattery. Simi Foran, Jason Casey, Dara Kearney; Graham Slattery, Mickey O’Lorran, Michael Lane; Colin Walsh, Ciaran Casey; Philip Lucid 1-0, Thomas Casey, Diarmuid Walsh. Thomas Gaynor, Nathan Guerin 0-9 (all free), Willem O’Sullivan 0-1. subs: Jordan Gauguin for O’Halloran (30 minutes), David O’Mahony for Gaynor (half time), Eric Walsh for T Casey (half time), Rory Duggan for C Casey (56 minutes).

Rule: David Diddy (Limerick)

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