BRAVE, brave Conahy Shamrocks, who have been without a win all season, suffered the agony of being caught deep in injury-time by John Lockes (Callan) in this engrossing intermediate hurling championship first round/relegation semi-final at well turned out St John’s Park on Saturday, the score being 0-15 (CS) to 1-12.
Nearly two minutes into added time a blistering shot from the right was saved by Conahy ’keeper, Andrew O’Keeffe, but when the ball squirted out of his control John Lockes wing-back, Jack McDowell was on hand in the crowded area to prod it into the net to force a draw.
Conahy, who had had risen their game to a season high during the closing half, out-played the opposition to an alarming degree and had out-scored them 11 points to three until the late, late goal.
The result was the worst possible outcome for the Fixtures Committee. The replay has been arranged for this weekend, but in a championship in which there is and was no wriggle room for replays, this means the county final that was arranged for Sunday, November 4 has to be put back a week.
The ’Lockes produced an all action, high energy game during the opening half and they were well worth their interval lead of 0-9 to 0-4, although Conahy had been wasteful early on.
Made some gains
The likes of Jason Corcoran, Jack McDowell, Paddy Kennedy, Tony Delaney and John O’Neill drove on the ’Lockes from the back, and up front Simon Burke and the very talented Ger Shelly made some good gains.
Within five minutes of the start Conahy had suffered a dose of the shock treatment as Simon Burke (2) and J.P. Corcoran had already hit the target. By the time a foul on Gavin Nolan saw Shane Brennan opened Conahy’s account from a free in the seventh minute they had already posted four wides.
The ’Lockes didn’t care. They powered on. They kept the scores ticking over, and after two mighty ones from a ‘65’ and then 85 metres distance by Jason Corcoran they showed 0-8 to 0-2 in front.
By half-time the difference had been pared back to 0-4 to 0-9, but Conahy had given no indication of the storm that was brewing.
From the throw-in to restart Conahy dominated the opposition. Their defence was superb, with everyone a star, although Paul Buggy did some exception things to gain a mention above the rest. Further afield the superb hurling of Peter Vickery, when moved into attack, Micheal Lawler and Gavin Nolan all added substantially to the good gains made by fine free taker, Shane Brennan.
The second half opened with Shane Brennan converting three frees within five minutes. The ’Lockes hardly got the ball up towards the Nowlan Park end goal. They were under pressure, but J.P. Corcoran made the best of a lucky break when the opposition lost the ball in midfield and he arrowed it over the bar (0-10 to 0-7).
Conahy simply drove on. By the 38th minute they were back level at 0-10 each thanks to a pair of scores from Brennan and the equaliser from Declan Buggy, with an assist from Barry Murphy.
Before they hit the front they missed a relatively easy free and then ’Lockes ’keeper, Paul Morrissey moved smartly off his line to smother a real chance of a big score on the threatening Micheal Lawler. Eventually, in the 42nd minute wing-back, Gary Kavanagh got them in front (0-11 to 0-10).
When lively sub, Paddy Mullan made the best of a smart delivery from Paul Buggy by shooting a point, the difference was two. John Lockes were under severe pressure.
The Callan lads responded well. Simon Burke won a 65 when he threatened the goal, and Jason Corcoran turned the free shot into a minor score. A point from Burke equalised (0-12 each) eight minutes from the finish.
Between the 53rd and 58th minutes Conahy shot unanswered points through Peter Vickery, a very good one, Shane Brennan and Paddy Mullen, thanks to an inventive pass from Micheal Lawler, to get 0-15 to 0-12 clear. Victory appeared to be theirs. With the second last strike of the game Jack McDowell forced the issue to a second hour, however.
Scorers: John Lockes – Simon Burke (0-3, two frees); Jason Corcoran (0-3, two frees, one 65); Jack McDowell (1-0); J.P. Corcoran, Ger Shelly (0-2 each); Shane Bergin (0-2, frees). Conahy Shamrocks – Shane Brennan (0-9, eight frees); Paddy Mullan (0-2); Gary Kavanagh, Peter Vickery, Declan Buggy, Gavin Nolan (0-1 each).
Conahy Shamrocks – Andrew O’Keeffe, Seamus Og Brennan, Denis Kelly, Donal Brennan, Gary Kavanagh, Paul Buggy, Damien Webster, Peter Vickery, Michael Bergin, Barry Murphy, Declan Buggy, John Wallace, Shane Brennan, Micheal Lawler, Gavin Nolan. Sub – Paddy Mullan for M. Bergin.
John Lockes – Paul Morrissey, Eoghan Fahey, Jack McDowell, Tony Delaney, Jason Corcoran, Paddy Kennedy, John O’Neill, Matthew Holohan, J.P. Corcoran, Sean Tierney, Eoin McGrath, Shane Bergin, Josh Haines, Simon Burke, Ger Shelly.
Referee – Pat Dunphy (Carrigeen).