There was a storm of entertainment in Páirc na Reatha, Glenmore on Friday as Graignamanagh and Mooncoin slugged it out for supremacy in a very entertaining junior ‘B’ hurling championship clash.
It was end-to-end stuff as both sides, evenly matched, tested the resolve of their opponents in a game that needed extra time to decide a victor.
Mooncoin had a brilliant opening ten minutes when they troubled the umpire to wave the green flag twice, courtesy of the predatorial instincts of AJ Wall, Joe Kearns and young Kieran Dunphy, however the early loss of Niall O’Hanlon on their half back line was a blow.
Slowly, but very obviously, the Graig lads scraped their way into the game, and by the 20th minute they were but a single point adrift. The reasons for such a surge can be fairly laid at the doorstep of free-taker, Padraig Whelan, Michael Dunne, Dane Mangan, Adam Kennedy, and Ger Walsh.
Mooncoin were finding life a difficult occupation trying to overwhelm a Graignamanagh defence in which the likes of Jim O’Donnell, James McCabe, Nick O’Donnell, and Diarmuid O’Neill stood rock solid in defence of their manor.
However Dunphy was causing plenty of anxiety for them on the Mooncoin half forward line. He grabbed a brace of good points in the 21st, and 23rd minutes. Those coupled with a similar return from corner forward, Robbie Cody helped to steer the Mooncoin ship through some choppy waters, and keeping their noses ahead as the game entered the final few minutes of an exciting first half.
At half time Mooncoin were leaders by 2-7 to 0-11 The game was very competitive, and very tight. It was about to get a whole deal tighter in a frantic second half.
A goal by A.J. Wall in the 35th minute increased the Mooncoin advantage to three points. A superb goal by Tom O’Donnell in the 42nd minute left two points between the sides. There were still a few points between the sides as the game throbbed into the final eight minutes.
The gap was two points at 55 minutes. A Tom O’Donnell point narrowed it down to a single point with three minutes plus seconds left. Points by John Fitzgerald, and Kieran Dunphy at the59 and 60 minute markers left Graig three adrift with the Referee looking at his watch.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man, and Tom O’Donnell stormed the Mooncoin battlements with one last effort, clattered it to the net and we were in extra time.
At the conclusion of the first period of extra time, Mooncoin were ahead. A necklace of three super points by Whelan (free) and man-of-the-match, Tom O’Donnell flopped Graignamanagh on the right side of the finishing wire by the slenderest of margins.
Hard for anyone to lose, but Graig were thrilled.
Scorers: Graignamanagh - Tom O’Donnell (2-5); Padraig Whelan (0-10, seven frees); Jamie McGrath (0-3); Dane Mangan, Ger Walsh, Michael Dunne (0-2 each); Adam Kennedy (0-1). Mooncoin - Kieran Dunphy (1-3); A.J. Wall, Joe Kearns (1-1 each); John Phelan (0-4, one free); Shane Walsh (0-3); John Fitzgerald (0-2, one free); Robbie Cody, Steven Crowley (0-2 each); Eric Wall, Jack Ryan (0-1 each).
Graignamanagh - Ian Kavanagh, Liam Hearne, Jim O’Donnell, James Mc Cabe, Nick O’Donnell, Diarmuid O’Neill, Sean Dowling, Tom O’Donnell, Adam Kennedy, Jordan Brett, Padraig Whelan, Ger Walsh, Jamie McGrath, Michael Dunne, Dane Mangan. Subs - Patrick Dowling, Alan Foley.
Mooncoin - Liam Walsh, Niall Blanchfield, Tom Henebery, Ian Dunphy, Niall O’Hanlon, Eamon Henebery, Andy Brennan, Liam “Mossy” Walsh, John Fitzgerald, Johnny Phelan, Kieran Dunphy, Joe Kearns, AJ Wall, Robbie Cody. Subs - Jack Ryan, Sean Walsh, Christy Walsh, Steven Crowley, Conor Brophy.
Referee - John Bennett (Tullogher)