Maybe it won’t make up for exiting the All-Ireland series with Tipperary in disappointing circumstances the previous Sunday, but his performance against Mullinahone was an indication of the likely importance of the Killenaule man to future Tipp ambitions.
The men in red came into this match as slight favourites, having already beaten Mullinahone earlier in the campaign, but it wasn’t until the closing minutes that they were able to shake off a stubborn challenge.
On a Fethard pitch in superb condition for hurling, Killenaule sprayed the ball around their forwards throughout and five of the front six ended up scoring from play, as did sub Billy Barrett with an unorthodox kicked point in the closing minutes after his solo run was shut down by the defence.
Despite shooting seven wides, compared to Mullinahone’s one, in the first-half the title-holders were ahead for much of that period but a late score by the excellent Seán Curran tied things up at the break.
Eoin Kelly, on the comeback from injury, didn’t start but was introduced just before half-time and was a constant worry for the Killenaule defence during the second-half. Their goals came via a penalty by Seán Curran in the 10th minute and an angled shot from Paul Kelly in the 43rd minute, but their rivals kept coming back for more and firing over the points. Apart from Bubbles, they enjoyed excellent displays from Michael Doyle and Tony Doyle on the wings, with Michael back in the centre after half-time, while Daniel Guinan had a fine game at full-forward.
Killenaule also had a penalty but O’Dwyer’s effort, low, powerful and to his left, was brilliantly saved by Alan Walsh in the 38th minute.
J O’Dwyer (0-9, 2 frees); T Doyle (0-4, 1 free); D Guinan (0-3), M Doyle (0-2), N O’Dwyer (0-1), D O’Connor, B Barrett (0-1 each).
S Curran (1-7, 1 pen, 5 frees); P Kelly (1-1), K Bolger (0-2), G Horan (0-2), J Shelly (0-1).
G Kennedy, S Browne, P Codd, J Feehan, E O’Connell, K Bergin, C O’Dwyer, N O’Dwyer, T Keaveney, M Doyle, J O’Dwyer, T Doyle, D Blake, D Guinan, D O’Connor.
P Kerwick for T Keaveney (HT), B Barrett for D O’Connor (53m).
A Walsh, N Curran, P Curran, K Walzer, G Cronin, E Fennelly, L Mullally, A Curran, K Bolger, G Horan, S Curran, D Cody, M Dunne, P Kelly, J Shelly.
E Kelly for M Dunne (28m), C Horan for G Horan (44m), M Dunne for D Cody (50m).
K Delahunty (Moyle Rovers).