THE first step on the senior hurling championship path began on a positive note for Carrickshock, but they had to dig deep to stay on track for a return to the final.
A strong third quarter performance helped last year’s beaten finalists overcome the tricky hurdle provided by Dunnamaggin in the first round of the senior hurling championship.
The game tested Carrickshock’s credentials to the maximum. Although they started with a strong breeze behind them they got very little benefit from it, as Dunnamaggin refused to let them loose.
The real turning point in the game came seven minutes after the restart, when Dunna’ were reduced to 14 men after full-forward Noel Lahart was given his marching orders for an off-the-ball altercation.
Suddenly, with more room in which to operate, the Carrickshock backs began to win more possession. In turn, they created more chances for their forwards.
With Jamie Power now operating in the half-back line, the ’Shock began to use play more intelligently. Richie Power had them level by the 42nd minute, before sub Mark O’Dwyer’s minor 44th minute score shot Carrickshock in front for the first time since the fifth minute.
They quickly pushed on from there, stretching the lead to two when John Power intercepted Canice Hickey’s intended pass to Willie Phelan and picked off a score of his own.
A free then gave Richie Power the chance to give his side something neither team had enjoyed all afternoon – a three-point lead, proof of how tight the game was – in the 51st minute. He duly took it, edging his side ever closer to a quarter-final berth.
Carrickshock had made a smooth start to the game, opening with points from Richie Power (free) and midfielder Shane Power, but any hopes they had of an easy Saturday afternoon in Piltown were quickly erased as Dunnamaggin hit the net with almost their first attack.
While Carrickshock pressed at one end, they were caught out at the other. A booming Noel Hickey clearance was caught by Peter Keneally, who sent Kieran Bergin on his way.
Racing towards the scoreboard end, Bergin’s run looked to have taken him too far wide of the goal, but somehow he found enough room to squeeze his shot between ’keeper Pat Farrell’s left shoulder and the near post.
That gave Dunna’ the lead for the first time. They would go on to enjoy it seven times in the first half, but on each occasion Carrickshock were quick to haul them back.
In what was a see-saw scoring half, the biggest lead Dunnamaggin opened up was just two points. Willie Phelan and Noel Lahart gave them just that after 11 minutes, but a Richie Power brace erased the deficit within minutes.
The sides continued to snipe points for the remainder of the half, but neither was allowed to piece too great a scoring run together. John Power looked to be going for a major strike when he shaped for goal while bearing down a close-range 24th minute free, but the former county minor blasted the sliotar over.
Dunnamaggin had some notable scores of their own, with goalkeeper David Herity converting a free from his own 65m line. They also lit up the game with a Darren Fitzpatrick point, a score which came following a swift team move which saw Canice Hickey intercept Jamie Power and work play on through J.J. Dunphy and Seaghan O’Neill, but Carrickshock kept working hard. Michael Rice typified that, gathering a line ball from David Franks and turning it into the last point of the half (0-12 to 1-9).
Once Carrickshock upped the pace and moved three points clear there was no way back for Dunnamaggin. They kept the fight going, with Canice Hickey defiantly firing over a free from his own half, but Jamie Power replied to keep a clear goal between the sides (0-18 to 1-12).
Hickey landed his second free of the game late on, but a like score from Richie Power was the final blow for Dunnamaggin’s charge. They did have a last gasp chance to pull the game out of the fire when awarded a close range free, but Kenny Moore’s drilled shot was ushered to safety by a resolute ’Shock.
The rebound eventually fell to Bill McCormack, who turned it over the bar – but with it went Dunnamaggin’s hopes of avoiding the exit door. Carrickshock – P. Farrell, N. Tennyson, J. Dalton, D. Franks, D. O’Dwyer, J. Murphy, J. Cahill, M. Rice, S. Power, John Power, W. Hoyne, Jamie Power, M. Rohan, R. Power, A. Power. Subs: D. Walsh for M. Rohan, 31 mins; M. O’Dwyer for Hoyne, 31 mins; J. Butler for S. Power, 49 mins; P. Mulcahy for A. Power, 54 mins; B. Donovan for John Power, 60 mins.
Dunnamaggin – D. Herity, M. Dowling, N. Hickey, M. Heffernan, A. Donovan, C. Hickey, A. Hickey, K. Moore, W. Phelan, D. Fitzpatrick, J.J. Dunphy, P. Keneally, K. Bergin, N. Lahart, S. O’Neill. Subs: S. Connery for O’Neill, 45 mins; B. McCormack for Bergin, 49 mins.
Referee – M. Flynn (Mooncoin).