Fitzgibbon unstoppable in Cork, minor hero on fire in Kilkenny, Horgan stands up for club players all over
Momentum is a powerful thing.
The gulf between intermediate and senior is a big one, but after mastering the stepping stone, clubs are ready for the step up. That's exactly how it's panning out in Cork, Kilkenny and Galway.
Two full rounds of club hurling have been played in every big hurling county this April and though it's painfully regrettable and completely wrong that tools are down for the summer now, boy was it good while it lasted.
In Kilkenny, the All-Ireland club champions Ballyhale were brought straight back down to earth with a first round defeat to Clara. In Galway, it was much the same with beaten finalists St Thomas' taken down a peg or two by Liam Mellows.
That set the tone and April soon lifted off.
The competitiveness of club hurling is hard matched and it's absolutely bottled up by the success enjoyed by the recently promoted clubs. The intermediate champions hitting senior hard.
They left their mark at the weekend.
For a few years there, the town club's struggles were seen as a symbol of Cork hurling's decline. On that note, the sight of Patrick Horgan and Glen Rovers putting Midleton to the sword on Sunday will have been a welcome one.
Horgan was on fire for the Glen in Páirc Uí Rinn but he wasn't alone with Conor Dorris and Liam Coughlan also showing well. A nod must also go to Conor Lehane who was simply unplayable for Midleton.
Patrick Horgan won the day however, with his words on TG4 appreciated by club players far and wide.
'We'll take a month off, do nothing...In this weather, to have a club player at home, watching out the window, seeing other teams out enjoying themselves in the heat," he said with a shake of the head.
Patrick Horgan of @GlenRovers_ sticking up for club players all over.
'We'll take a month off, do nothing...In this weather, to have a club player at home, watching out the window, seeing other teams out enjoying themselves in the heat...'
It's not on.pic.twitter.com/sNgryGajfq
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) April 22, 2019
Elsewhere, Charleville - the 2018 Cork intermediate champions and beaten All-Ireland finalists - enjoyed a seismic win in their first game back at the top table. Trailing by seven points with ten minutes left, they scored 1-6 on the bounce to leave Érin's Own needing injury time heroics.
In a crazy game, the Own responded with two last gasp points to level it up and to send this first round game to extra-time. Charleville's youth took over in the added minutes however, and they went onto edge a thriller by 1-27 to 1-25.
Unsurprisingly, that man Darragh Fitzgibbon was in the thick of it all. He hit 0-14, 0-5 from open play for Ben O'Connor's side. Like manager, like full forward.
Glen Rovers 1-17 vs 0-16 Midleton
Newcestown 0-17 vs 1-17 Bandon
Killeagh 1-12 vs 0-18 Na Piarsaigh
Blackrock 2-27 vs 1-10 Ballyhea
Carrigtwohill 0-8 vs 3-23 St Finbarr's
Charleville 1-27 vs 1-25 Erins Own
Douglas 1-18 vs 1-12 Bride Rovers
Bishopstown 1-14 vs 1-13 Newtownshandrum
Sarsfields 2-24 vs 0-11 Kanturk
The result of the weekend in Kilkenny was Graigue Ballycallan's 13 point destruction of St Pat's Ballyragget. In a clash of the county's 2017 and 2018 intermediate champions, last year's beaten All-Ireland semi-finalists franked the form of that competition even further in Palmerstown.
Aaron Brennan - still a student in St Kieran's College - was the star of the show with 2-1 from play while Sean Ryan and his brother Billy were also dynamite. Graigue are a young, fast improving side in Kilkenny - they had three players on the Kieran's College team this year - and they will be a force to be reckoned with in this championship.
Clara meanwhile, had another good win and they're the best placed team in Kilkenny with April in the vapours. James Bergin - a Kilkenny under-20 - was the star of the show for them, the corner forward hitting 1-12 in their defeat of a fancied Bennettsbridge side.
There were also good wins for the Rower Inistioge over Danesfort, Dicksboro over Érin's Own, Mullinavat over The Village and Ballyhale over rivals O'Loughlins.
Former Kilkenny All-Ireland minor hero John Walsh was bang in form for Mullinavat, hitting a remarkable 0-16 in their defeat of James Stephen's.
— Brian Keyes (@KeyesBrian) April 20, 2019
Darren Mullen impressed in defence for the Shamrocks on his return from injury while Colin Fennelly cemented his status as one of the most dangerous forwards in club hurling.
He was unplayable on the edge of the square for Henry Shefflin's side.
Graigue Ballycallan 5-14 St Patrick's Ballyragget 0-16
Rower Inistioge 0-18 Danesfort 0-14
Ballyhale Shamrocks 1-16 O'Loughlin Gaels 0-17
Clara 3-17 Bennettsbridge 3-14
Mullinavat 0-24 James Stephen's 0-18
Dicksboro 1-14 Érin's Own 1-13
St Thomas' bounced back with a comprehensive defeat of Tommy Larkin's while Turloughmore continue their rapid ascendancy. The big news in the Galway championship was the return of Joseph Cooney. No more than a few hours back from Australia, he was in at 14 for Sarsfields and he had the ball in the back of the Kilnadeema-Leitrim net after five minutes.
Galway Senior A Hurling Championship
Joseph Cooney, starting at full-forward, rattles the back of the net only two minutes into his comeback. Soaring catch and cracking finish. Looked like he’d never been away.#galwayhurling #GAA
— David Connors (@peterswellman) April 20, 2019
A huge boost for Galway hurling.
Meanwhile, their intermediate champions Oranmore-Maree drew with Ahascragh on the back of a win over Craughwell last time out.
St Thomas' 2-15 Tommy Larkins 1-8
Gort 2-14 Loughrea 2-14
Cappataggle 3-17 Tynagh Abbey Duniry 2-13
Castlegar 2-25 Portumna 1-6
Craughwell 1-19 Beagh 0-14
Mullagh 1-28 Ardrahan 1-15
Turloughmore 1-20 Liam Mellows 1-11
It may have come as a surprise to many but with Patrickswell having three of this country's best players in their ranks, their defeat of Na Piarsaigh shouldn't raise that many eyebrows.
He may not yet have really made it for Limerick but in @patrickswellgaa, they've never doubted the talent of Kevin O'Brien.
Some speed and finishing from the former Fitzgibbon Cup star at the weekend.
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) April 22, 2019
Their difference-maker wasn't Gillane, Lynch or Byrnes though, it was the former UL Fitzgibbon star Kevin O'Brien. The lightning inside forward hit Michael Ryan's Na Piarsaigh side for two quickfire first half goals and that would see them through to win it.
Patrickswell 2-17 Na Piarsaigh 1-15
Doon 0-17 Kilmallock 1-14
Knockainey 1-13 Murroe Boher 0-16
Ahane 1-13 Ballybrown 0-14
Garryspillane 2-13 Monaleen 0-19
Adare 4-22 South Liberties 2-13
In the sunny south east, it was all about this Ciaran O'Connor goal for Rathnure. Turn and bang.
Described by Ed Rowsome as, "the greatest goal ever in Bellefield", Ciarán O'Connor's, fantastic goal for @RathnureGAA this evening, against, @OulartB, in the @OfficialWexGAA @PettittsSuperV Senior Hurling Championship pic.twitter.com/mCQXHvN3BT
— WexfordToday.com (@Wexford2day) April 20, 2019
Shelmaliers 2-19 Oylegate Glenbrien 1-19
Ferns St Aidn's 1-16 St Anne's Rathangan 1-14
Naomh Eanna 2-19 Glynn Barntown 0-19
Rathnure 1-23 Oulart the Ballagh 2-20
Fethard St Mogue's 1-16 Rapparees 3-13
Very few saw Craobh Chiaráin defeating St Vincent's, never mind so comfortably. Whitehall meanwhile, gave Ballyboden lots of it.