Kyle may have missed out on this year’s Laois Junior “A” championship crown, undoubtedly their primary goal for the year, but on this form they will be hard stopped in their Leinster campaign.
They defied miserable weather conditions and Southern Gaels’ home advantage to record an impressive seven-goal victory at Páirc Chiaráin in Athlone last Sunday afternoon.
Eoin Kennedy lost the toss at the start of the match and consequently the Ballaghmore men had to face into the teeth of a very strong breeze in the first half, however once they cancelled out Southern Gaels’ scrappy fifth minute goal with a close range Darragh Morrissey effort on their next attack, they retained complete control of this tie right up until the final whistle.
Strong performances from Adrian Kelly and Mark Teehan gave them a solid foothold at midfield and even though the elements made it extremely difficult to get any distance into their striking, some clever use of possession allowed them to dictate the pace of the game and to make their way through the opening moiety without losing ground.
A fortunate goal from an Adrian Kelly free that dipped under the crossbar from forty metres out gave Kyle a lead that they would never relinquish, while the tie was effectively settled in a five minute spell either side of half time, a period in which Darragh Morrissey added two more goals, bookending an excellent point from Gearóid Walshe.
Two further points from Tony Fitzpatrick, the second of which was a gorgeous hanging strike from sixty metres out on the right wing, pushed the lead out to eight points, 4-3 to 1-4.
Sensing that the tie was slipping away from them, Southern Gaels sent for two talented young minor hurlers off the bench in the shape of Dermot Treacy and Seán Kilgarriff, but while the teenage duo looked sharp in their movement, the soft ground and the slowness of the deliveries sent their way allowed the Kyle defensive sextet to tighten their grip on the game even further.
Barry Grady’s goal in the 44th minute pushed the gap all the way out to fourteen and this score, combined with the sloppy manner in which it was conceded, visibly deflated the home side and reduced the final quarter to a pedestrian affair.
The weather also played a part in this as the blustery conditions subsided, only to be replaced by a sharp, heavy downpour, thus making handling and ball control fiendishly difficult.
As the handful of supporters on the terraces scuttled for cover from the heavy rain, Gearóid Walshe swept the ball to the bottom corner of the net with a crisp ground stroke, while Kyle’s magnificent seven goals were completed when a Mark Teehan sideline ball carried the whole way into the net with ten minutes still to play.