IT WAS an untidy game that was shaped largely by the wet, cold and windy weather, and in the end an untidy goal proved the decisive strike.
Strong spirited Tullaroan enduring a trying season in 2011 when victories were few and they played roulette with relegation. They were determined to try and make things different here, and they had a good go at it in this senior hurling league clash in Tom Ryall Park on Sunday.
Dunnamaggin, under new manager Pat Hoban, met the challenge head on. They faced a deadly serious challenge that tested their mettle when the opposition shot their seventh point in the 39th minute to cut the divide to a precarious 0-10 (D) to 0-7. The wind, the high wind was blowing with Tullaroan.
It was as if in that moment the teams looked each other squarely in the eye, and first to blink was the loser; except no one blinked. The exchanges roared on hard. They were tough, uncompromising, dogged right to the end and even included two bouts of fisticuffs.
Dunnamaggin won themselves a bit of breathing space after Tullaroan’s seventh score when they forced a defender into an error by holding the ball too long, and Bill McCormack popped over the close in free. Two minutes later came the decisive goal, a strange sort of goal at the end of a series of errors.
Caught by surprise
Kieran Bergin bundled the ball over the line with his foot at the finish. J.J. Dunphy, who turned in a great effort on the ‘40’ during the closing half, delivered in the ball from way out the field.
Bergin claimed the sliotar about 30-metres out and got the run on the defence. He looked sure to bury ball, ’keeper and all as he bore down on goal, but somehow his attempted shot drilled the ball into the sod.
The advancing ’keeper, Richie Holland, was caught by surprise. So too, it appeared, was everyone else. The ball fell kindly for Bergin whose score took his team 1-11 to 0-7 clear.
There was no way back for Tullaroan after that. Their forwards, fast and skilful though the Walshs’ and Paul Buggy might be, didn’t have it in them to save the day because days like this just don’t suit them.
“That was a very hard game. Conditions were always going to make it a real battle,” was the summary from Dunnamaggin manager, Pat Hoban. “There was no room for fancy hurling. You just dug in and hoped for a bit of luck and a few scores.
“At half-time we were six points up, but we needed them all. The goal was the decider, the boost we needed at a vital time. Tullaroan were under pressure after that. They didn’t threaten our goal all that much. The backs were great.
“That was a great start. With the Shamrocks up next for us that was a must win game. Two points in the bag was what we wanted, and that was what we got.”
Fireworks were suggested when a player from each side was booked before the ball was even thrown in. While there were two unruly bouts during the second half, the game was fought in a decent spirit with everyone giving their all while taking the odd knock, plus a constant battering from the weather.
Wind assisted – it was worth yards carry to the ball – Dunnamaggin deposited three points in the bank during the opening six minutes. Darren Fitzpatrick clattered over two lovely points at the start, one from either wing, before Canice Hickey hit the target from a free on midfield.
Tullaroan opened their account through Paul Buggy (free) in the eight minute. When a foul on Martin Walsh gifted Buggy his second score, the losers looked in a good place. Their forwards looked lively, and their defence coped well and mopped up the huge, huge puck-outs from Dunna’ goalie, David Herity – they landed on the ‘21’ – because no one in opposition was able to win ball in the air.
The winners snatched a quick hat-trick of scores to slip 0-6 to 0-3 ahead by the 17th minute, but there was no hint that they were capable of dominating. The Tullaroan half-backs of Tommy Walsh, a powerful Stephen Maher and Richard Maher held their ground well and all but blotted out their opponents.
Still Dunna’ managed to pick off the odd score. By 25 minutes they were 0-7 to 0-3 ahead. By the break the divide was 0-10 to 0-4 without Tullaroan ever being out-played to any great degree.
The wind grew into a howling gale after the turn. Tullaroan threw everything forward. Things looked promising for them when Paul Buggy drilled over a point after a defender had been boxed up and forced into a handling error with the ball and when additional deposits were made by Padraig Walsh and Mark Walsh (0-10 to 0-7).
Dunnamaggin, who fielded without hamstring victim Noel Hickey, dug deep when they had to most. A good win? Certainly, with Canice Hickey, J.J. Dunphy, Bill McCormack, Aidan Donovan, Andrew Hickey and Ken Moore producing powerful fare against fearless opposition.
Dunnamaggin – David Herity, Mark Dowling, Aidan Donovan, Mark Heffernan, William Phelan, Canice Hickey, Andrew Hickey, Kenneth Moore, Darren Fitzpatrick, Kieran Bergin, Peter Kenneally, Seaghan O’Neill, Bill McCormack, J.J. Dunphy, Sean Connery.
Tullaroan – Richie Holland, Paddy Campion, Michael Maher, Sam Holmes, Tommy Walsh, Stephen Maher, Richard Maher, David Dowling, Ken Coogan, Mark Walsh, Padraig Walsh, Martin Walsh, Paul Buggy, Eamon Brennan, Tom Fitzgerald. Subs – Paul Glennon for Mark Walsh; John Maher for E. Brennan.
Referee – Paddy Neary (James Stephens).