Christy Ring Cup round one
Martin Fitzgerald bagged a hat-trick for himself as Kildare thoroughly outclassed a poor Roscommon side in the Christy Ring Cup opener on Saturday afternoon.
The margin of victory was 25 points in the end, and that scoreline was probably justified as this was a complete and utter mismatch right from the word go. Barry Cormack was also superb on his first appearance for Kildare in championship hurling, finishing with 15 points in a classy display from midfield for the winners.
Having suffered relegation from Division 2A of the National Hurling League earlier this spring, it was always going to be intriguing as to how Kildare’s confidence would be as they began a competition where they are considered one of the favourites. They certainly looked fired up from the very first whistle as they thundered into challenges and won the vast majority of the rucks in an impressive physical showing.
Kildare looked pretty comfortable within just a few minutes of the throw-in, and it was Martin Fitzgerald who carried the fight to the Rossies as he tormented full-back Michael Beirne. The Ardclough man endured a difficult league campaign by his own standards, but his scoring prowess will be pivotal to Kildare’s hopes as this competition progresses. He bagged 2-3 from play in the opening half, while Barry Cormack was rocksteady from placed balls also.
The first point took less than 60 seconds to arrive as Paul Divilly burst through the Roscommon defence before laying it on a plate to Fitzgerald as he smashed it over. Cormack stroked over his first of the day soon after, before the opening goal arrived on six minutes when Mark Moloney angled a fine ball across the pitch to Fitzgerald who cut in from the right and found the net.
Roscommon eventually got off the mark in the eighth minute, but Kildare kept their foot on the gas and extended their lead through a couple of Cormack frees and a fabulous score from Fitzgerald, who showed great control to take a long ball in his stride.
Mick Purcell could have stretched the lead were it not for a fine block by ‘keeper Joe Keane, and Roscommon offered a little resistance as Daniel Glynn measured over two points in the space of three minutes either side of a point from Fitzgerald at the other end.
Niall Ó’Muineacháin launched over a superb score from midfield midway through the half, before two points in a row for Roscommon from the hurls of goalkeeper Keane and Jason Kilkenny reduced the gap to just five with 25 minutes played.
It was all Kildare from then until half-time however, with Joe Quaid’s side picking off some really impressive scores before the break. A brilliant effort from the right wing from Kevin Whelan was followed by a fine score from Mark Grace, and Fitzgerald then rattled the net for the second time to put the result beyond doubt. The full-forward showed good strength to gather a long ball from Purcell before thundering an unstoppable shot into the top corner of the Rossies net.
Divilly followed up with a point from the left wing, and a couple of scores from Cormack further stretched the lead before Connaughton responded with his second point for the visitors. The scoreline made for bleak reading for Roscommon followers at the interval, Kildare running away with things as they led by 2-12 to 0-6.
The second half was merely a formality, with the only question left to answer being how much Kildare would win by in the end.
Roscommon hardly looked bothered after the restart, and Kildare, to their credit, never took the foot off the throat of their opponents. Cormack began the new half by pointing a free before Fitzgerald completed his hat-trick when O’Neill picked him out with a pass and he managed to hit the net from a tight angle.
Two Cormack frees soon followed, before championship debutant Shane Ryan cracked home a brilliant goal from 20 metres out after clubmate Brian Byrne picked him out.
Roscommon’s first score of the second half arrived in the 43rd minute through a Glynn free, and that was the source of their second after Cormack pointed at the other end.
The fizz slowly went out of the game in the final 25 minutes as Kildare just picked off points, and though Roscommon bagged a consolation goal through Connaughton, it didn’t affect the miserable feel to this game. Kildare ‘keeper Paddy McKenna also pulled off a couple of fine saves during the closing stages to deny Hugh Rooney and Robbie Fallon certain goals, but there was little else of note that occurred in the final stages.
Scorers for Kildare: B Cormack 0-15(11f, 1’65), M Fitzgerald 3-3, P Divilly 0-3(1f), S Ryan 1-0, E O’Neill, M Grace, N Ó’Muineacháin, M Purcell, K Whelan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Roscommon: N Connaughton 1-2, D Glynn 0-4(3f), J Keane(1f), R Fallon(1f), J Kilkenny and A Moore 0-1 each.
Paddy McKenna; Cian Forde, John Doran, Paul Sullivan; Eanna O’Neill, Mark Moloney, Mark Grace; Niall Ó’Muineacháin, Barry Cormack; Michael Purcell, Paul Divilly, Kevin Whelan; Brian Byrne, Martin Fitzgerald, Shane Ryan.
Subs used: Dylan Brererton for Moloney 32mins, Chris Bonus for Byrne 50mins, Bernard Deay for Whelan 56mins, Mark Delaney for Fitzgerald 56mins, Tadgh Forde for Purcell 60mins, Simon Lacey for C Forde 65mins, Sean Gainey for Divilly 69mins.
Joe Keane; Pat Nolan, Michael Beirne, Alan Moore; Kerrill Hardiman, Jason Kilkenny, Eamon Flanagan; Darragh Heavey, Shane Curley; Daniel Glynn, Cillian Egan, Naos Connaughton; Cathal Kenny, Robbie Fallon, Cormac Kelly.
Subs used: Warren Boyle for Heavey 41mins, John Murray for Glynn 51mins, Hugh Rooney for Beirne 51mins, Ronan Kilcline for Nolan 61mins, Joe Brennan for Curley 61mins.
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