Bennettsbridge’s Liam Blanchfield and Dicksboro’s Ollie Walsh eye up the loose ball during last Saturday’s senior hurling league Group B clash in Clara. Picture: Willie Dempsey
A Nicky Cleere-inspired Bennettsbridge side had nine points to spare over Dicksboro in the opening round of the St Canice’s Credit Union senior hurling league in Clara on Saturday afternoon.
Cleere scored 13 points in total, of which 12 were from frees. It was this indiscipline in defence that really cost Dicksboro in the end.
The city side were the better side in the opening half as they restricted the 2021 league champions to just two points from play, but their concession of frees meant they left Willie Maher’s team in the game as they only led by a point at the break and they ultimately paid the price.
Bennettsbridge were excellent in the second half as Liam Blanchfield and Sean Morrissey scored crucial goals.
Dicksboro started off well with points from Mark Nolan and Timmy Clifford before Ciaran Brennan responded with a point from play in what proved to be the ’Bridge’s only point outside of Nicky Cleere in the opening half.
Andy Gaffney and Nicky Cleere then swapped frees as the sides went point for point.
Cleere’s frees kept Bennettsbridge in touch as Dicksboro found their range from play as Cillian Buckley, Eoin Fennelly, Bill Sheehan, Thomas Kenny and Andy Gaffney all found the target.
As a result the ’Boro led 0-11 to 0-7 but Bennettsbridge did hit the final three points of the half with Cleere knocking over a trio of frees.
Another Cleere free then brought the ’Bridge level within a minute of the resumption and although Timmy Clifford edged Dicksboro back in front, it wouldn’t last very long.
Bennettsbridge hit four points without reply between the 34th and 37th minutes as points from Cleere, Liam Blanchfield, Jamie Harkin and Kevin Brennan opened up a nice cushion.
Dicksboro replied with another point from Clifford while Andy Gaffney had a goal attempt blocked wide.
That missed chance was even more relevant when Liam Blanchfield got the opening goal of the game in the 42nd minute.
The experienced forward latched onto a dropping free from Nicky Cleere and it’s a goal that all but settled the result.
Dicksboro continued to battle with scores from Gaffney, Bill Sheehan and Mark Nolan but it was a losing cause in the end as Bennettsbridge took complete control with Sean Morrissey wrapping up the game in some style with a second goal in the 51st minute.
Teams and Scorers
Bennettsbridge - Nicky Cleere (0-13, 0-12 frees); Liam Blanchfield (1-1); Sean Morrissey (1-0); Ciaran Brennan (0-3); Kevin Brennan (0-2, 0-1 free); Jamie Harkin (0-1).
Dicksboro - Andy Gaffney (0-5, 0-4 frees); Bill Sheehan (0-4); Timmy Clifford (0-3); Mark Nolan (0-2); Eoin Fennelly, Cillian Buckley, Thomas Kenny (0-1 each).
Bennettsbridge - Enda Cleere; Danny Coyne, Enda Morrissey, Conor Murphy; David Blanchfield, Robert Lennon, Jamie Harkin; Shane Byrne, Ciaran Brennan; Kevin Blanchfield, Nicky Cleere, Kevin Brennan; Sean Morrissey, Hugh O’Neill, Liam Blanchfield.
Subs: Daniel Murphy for Lennon, Brian Lannon for N Cleere, Willie Murphy for Harkin.
Dicksboro - Darragh Holohan; Evan Carroll, Evan Cody, Alan Phelan; Ollie Walsh, Padraic Moylan, Eoin Fennelly; Cillian Buckley, Thomas Kenny; Liam Moore, Bill Sheehan, Timmy Clifford; Mark Nolan, Aidan Nolan, Andy Gaffney.
Subs: Niall Rowe for Carroll, Chris Kavanagh for Moore, Cillian Hackett for M Nolan, Stevie Dermody for Walsh, Stephen Farrell for Fennelly.
Referee - Gavin Quilty (Slieverue)
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