Erin’s Own 1-11
It was a day of relief for Erin’s Own on Saturday. They will be competing in the Kilkenny senior hurling league and championship in 2022 following their defeat of Rower-Inistioge in Clara on Saturday.
For Rower-Inistioge, they can have no complaints. The form book for them looked bleak heading into this do-or-die match. Five games, five defeats across league and championship and despite their best efforts, they were unable to find a winning performance and can have no complaints as they are deservedly relegated and face into a winter of lamenting their poor 2021.
It was Erin’s Own who started the sharper of the two teams. Stephen Daly was out in front of his man, gathered possession and took advantage of loose Rower-Inistioge defending as he struck expertly over the bar to give Erin’s Own an early lead.
It was an understandably nervy start to the final that no club wants to be involved in but Erin’s Own settled faster than their opponents with Michael Murphy doubling Martin Fogarty’s side’s advantage in the opening 7 minutes.
There were a number of wasted opportunities from both sets of forwards throughout the opening period of a tight encounter. The lack of a clinical nature perhaps partly why both teams found themselves in this Doomsday scenario as they desperately clung on to their senior status.
A Tom Doyle point for the Rower-Inistioge saw a badly out of form Rower-Inistioge team get on the scoreboard for the first time in Clara. That seemed to buoy them somewhat with a good passage of play culminating in a fine Jim Ryan point. That score drew the sides level after 12 minutes at 0-02 to 0-02.
The key moment in the opening quarter came on the stroke of the first half water break. After a foul on Michael Murphy who was running through on goal, Erin’s Own were rightfully awarded a penalty. Murphy made no mistake with the penalty, slotting it into the top corner and by doing so gave his side a three-point lead after 15 minutes.
The first score from a free came in the 22nd minute when Erin’s Own sharpshooter Jack Buggy split the posts with his first attempt of the game.
It was clear to see why neither side have claimed a victory in either league or championship this season as large spells of sloppiness were commonplace throughout the first half. Jack Walsh pulled a point back for Michael Doyle’s men to once again make it a one score game as half-time loomed, Erin’s Own 1-03 to 0-03 Rower-Inistioge.
The wide count now read Erin’s Own 5 to Rower-Inistioge’s 8, as clear an indication as any that both teams were feeling the pressure of the occasion.
Walsh made up for a missed free moments later when he got his first point from a dead ball situation and Kilkenny hurler Richie Leahy opened his account immediately after Walsh’s free to reduce the deficit to a single point.
There was just enough time for the impressive Eoin O’Brien to level up proceedings as both sides could not be separated at half-time, Erin’s Own 1-03 to 0-06 Rower-Inistioge.
A large crowd in Clara were eagerly anticipating a second half that was as important as it comes for both clubs.
A ’65 from Erin’s Own forward Jack Buggy, his second point of the encounter, edged them ahead with the first score of the second half and Buggy further extended their lead soon after with a close-range free, Erin’s Own 1-05 to 0-06 Rower-Inistioge.
The second half took on a similar pattern to that of the first, with Rower-Inistioge growing into the half and it was not until the 40th minute that they got their 7th point of the game thanks to a Jack Walsh free.
Michael Murphy replied with two long-distance frees to move Erin’s Own 1-07 to 0-07 ahead midway through a tentative second half.
Jack Walsh got his fourth point of the day to make it a two-point game as the game entered its final quarter in a sun-drenched but brisk Clara.
It was Erin’s Own who finished the stronger of the two teams with Michael Murphy and Conor Fogarty both pointing to crucially make it a two-score game with 5 minutes remaining.
John Dowd and Michael Galavan exchanged late scores in additional time and another brilliant free from within his own half from man of the match Michel Murphy saw Erin’s Own maintain their senior status.
For Rower-Inistioge, they could not find the answers once again as a season of misery is compounded and concluded with their relegation to the intermediate grade for 2022.