Clontarf put to sword by Shamrocks
Clontarf were made to pay for a disappointing second-half display when falling to Shamrocks of Offaly by 3-6 to 0-6 in their Leinster Junior Hurling Championship first-round tie in O'Connor Park, Tullamore last Sunday afternoon.
The nine-point winning margin was harsh on the Dublin representatives who had fought back well to restore parity early in the second half, but the concession of some soft goals from that juncture ultimately sealed their fate.
"The final scoreline didn't reflect how tight a game it was," said Clontarf official Aidan O'Halloran. "It was never that type of game and it was only just in the closing stages that Shamrocks pulled away from us.
"I think they were certainly the better team on the day but losing by nine points doesn't show how competitive the game was for the large part."
Both sides enjoyed sporadic periods of dominance in the first-half with the midlanders enjoying a 0-5 to 0-3 interval advantage. Indeed, Clontarf could well have entered the break with the lead but John Gleeson's powerful shot was well repelled in the home goal in one of Clontarf's few goal chances over the hour.
Two quick points upon the resumption brought the Dubliners level but any momentum generated by those scores was quickly stalled as a defensive error allowed Shamrocks in for their first goal.
Similar misfortune befell Clontarf at the end of the third quarter and with scores becoming increasingly difficult to secure, the contest gradually slipped from their grasp.
Unfortunately, some of the fine marksmanship that is a feature of the Clontarf team, was marked absent but there can be many positives to be taken from the individual displays of full-back Willie Comerford, Pádraig O'Brien, Neil O'Gorman and the tireless Robbie Stokes, with Gleeson remaining a threat despite being inconvenienced by a debilitating groin injury.
"It was difficult for us as we just weren't able to keep our scoreboard ticking over and defensive errors definitely cost us," said O'Halloran.
"However, it was a great day for the club and a very large crowd travelled down for the match which added to the atmosphere.
"It gave us a taste for it and I thought that we acquitted ourselves well with the young lads impressing but a home venue was a big advantage to Shamrocks by the end."