RUSSELL Rovers' quest to win the Co-Op Superstores Premier JHC remains firmly alive after their quarter-final win over Argideen Rangers last Saturday evening in Riverstown.
At half-time, it looked like the game would go the distance, with the winners having their noses in front by a point, 0-9 to 1-5. The Shanagarry side pulled away in the second half, winning in the end, 1-19 to 1-12. Josh Beausang was on fire up front, landing 1-11 (0-5 f), but he was ably assisted by the likes of Brian Hartnett and Kevin Moynihan. In defence, Eoghan O’Sullivan kept things intact at centre-back.
Russell Rovers are back in the groove after a disappointing 2021 season. They lost all three games in the group stage, only to beat Grenagh in the relegation play-off to avoid demotion to the Junior A ranks. This season has been the complete opposite, winning all three of their group stage games and they continued the good form on Saturday.
Rovers coach Tommy Ryan, who featured regularly for the Waterford senior hurlers in recent years, is in his second year involved. The 32-year-old school teacher was delighted after the game.
“I am over the moon, thrilled to win and advance to the semi-final.
"It was a tight first half. We came into the dressing room at half-time and had a few words with the lads. Despite us up by a point at the break, I felt we weren’t working as hard as we could and playing as well as we could either. I was happy with the second half, it was a real team performance.”
It was a topsy turfy first-half, with both team enjoying spells of dominance, the second half was different, with Russell Rovers, inspired by Beausang, were on song.
“Josh was outstanding, he was unplayable, but it is far from a one-man show. We have fantastic hurlers in the forward department. Kevin Moynihan and Brian Hartnett popped up with some big points out there, Ruairi Cummins and Jack McGrath chipped in and worked very hard.”
Ryan, who was in the Déise starting 15 that lost to Cork in the 2019 Munster Championship, is delighted with how things are going this season, a far cry from last year’s struggles.
“Last year was disappointing for us. We had injuries, lads away and luckily we beat Grenagh to survive. At the start of this year, it was a clean slate for everyone.
"The lads' hunger was there from day one, and I had a good feeling that we could do something special in 2022.
"We are in a semi-final, don’t know who we are playing yet, but we will be ready when that game comes around.”