Trumera 3-16 Ballypickas 0-14
Laois Shopping Centre IHC
And at last the Laois GAA season is up and running.
Very few people would ever have thought you’d have needed a ticket to attend a game in Ballypickas but that was the case this evening as they hosted Trumera in the first competitive GAA game in Laois in almost five months.
A limit of 200 on crowds at outdoor gatherings in this Coronavirus world meant that it was, indeed, a ticket-only affair. Your name and phone number was taken at the gate, hand sanitizer was dispensed and the players arrived togged out with the dressing rooms out of commission.
Other than that it was the same as ever really as two of Laois’s smallest clubs did battle in the opening round of the Laois intermediate hurling championship.
With only two teams advancing from a group of four to the semi-final, there is little room for slip up. And it’s Trumera that have given themselves a good chance thanks to an impressive 11-point win over the home side.
Though not overloaded with players by any means, they have experienced an infusion of youth in the last year or two and it’s beginning to show.
The first three names on their team sheet – Ronan Kavanagh, Paul McSpadden and John O’Connor – have all probably given the best part of 25 years service to the club at adult level – while top scorer Cathal Brophy is in his late 30s too.
But Conor Madden, a transfer from Rathdowney-Errill in recent seasons, was arguably the best player on the pitch and finished with 1-4, even if his goal was somewhat fortuitous.
Who’d ever have thought it. My ticket to watch Ballypickas v Trumera in the Laois intermediate hurling (3rd tier) championship. Serious set up on the gate to get in. pic.twitter.com/tmUdj9pui8
— Steven Miller (@steven_miller12) July 28, 2020
Adam Kirwan, Brian Bredin and Paddy Hosey are all in their debut seasons too and manager Damien Walsh from Ballinakill will have been pleased with their first championship outing.
While MJ Lalor put Ballypickas into an early lead with a couple of well-taken frees, Trumera soon began to make use of wind advantage.
Madden, Kirwan, Brophy, Niall Sinnott and Dylan Lalor all pointed to help them into a 0-6 to 0-2 lead before Brophy pounced for the game’s first goal.
MJ Lalor hit his third free in response for Ballypickas but Lalor and Madden both hit lovely points from play to push Trumera eight points clear.
Ballypickas, however, rallied before the break with a fine point from wing-back Cillian McEvoy and two further frees from Lalor had the gap back to five at the break, 1-8 to 0-6.
Another Lalor free reduced that to four early in the second but an Adam Kirwan point and then Brophy’s second goal swung momentum firmly in favour of Trumera again.
When Conor Madden saw an effort for a point drop short and into the net moments later it signalled the end of the game as a contest.
Ballypickas battled on with Lalor adding to his individual tally but centre-back Liam Lalor was eventually forced off with an injury that he picked up in the first half and they were reduced to 14 when Daire McWey got his marching orders for a challenge on Madden.
Paddy Boggan came on and scored a couple of points from play for Ballypickas but Trumera saw it out in style.
Clonad and Rathdowney-Errill meet in the other game in this group on Saturday night.
Trumera will host Rathdowney-Errill in the next round while Ballypickas will be away to Clonad.
SCORERS – Trumera: Cathal Brophy 2-3, Conor Madden 1-4, Adam Kirwan 0-4 (three frees), Niall Sinnott 0-3 (two frees), Dylan Lalor 0-2; Ballypickas: MJ Lalor 0-10 (all frees), Paddy Boggan 0-2, Cillian McEvoy 0-1, Paddy Gorman 0-1
TRUMERA: Ronan Kavanagh; Paul McSpadden, John O’Connor, Gearoid O’Neill; Paddy Callaghan, Caolan Murphy, Brian Bredin; Conor Madden, Donnacha Dowling; Adam Kirwan, Dylan Lalor, Niall Sinnott; Cathal Brophy, Shane Murphy, Paddy Hosey. Sub: Rhys Murphy for Hosey
BALLYPICKAS: Sean O’Dea; Tim Cass, Paddy Gorman, Willie McDonald; Cillian McEvoy, Liam Lalor, Michael Downey; Aaron O’Dea, Ricky Nolan; MJ Lalor, Kieran Bowe, Daire McWey; Hugh O’Connor, Matthew Boggan, Eimhin Hennessy. Subs: Paddy Boggan for Lalor (injured), Noel Leech for Hennessy, Jim Leech for O’Connor, James Hennessy for Nolan
REFFERE: Patrick Phelan (Castletown)