Despite leading by nine points at half-time, Galmoy had to withstand a powerful second half fightback by Cloneen/Railyard to win this under-14 Roinn D hurling semi-final in Ballyragget on Sunday, winning by 1-13 to 2-4.
With five minutes of normal time remaining, the difference was down to just three points and Cloneen had the momentum. When Galmoy needed inspiration, it was centre-back Brendan Phelan who took on the responsibility and soloed all the way upfield to the 20 metre line before shooting a cracking point. Conor Grace popped over a free before the same two players combined for the last score of the game.
When backed by the wind, Galmoy made the better start with a point each in the first minute from Oisín and Sean Phelan. Conor Drennan won two frees in quick succession which Conor Grace converted. While Galmoy were dominating in the possession stakes, they wasted many chances and allowed Cloneen/Railyard to stay in touch.
The losers hit their only score of the half when Eoin Regan set up Kevin Brennan for a good point. Cloneen did have two goal chances but they failed to find the net.
Cathal Phelan pointed twice for the winners, who went on to lead at the interval by 0-10 to 0-1. With Cloneen/Railyard now favoured by the strengthening breeze, one wondered if that lead was enough.
However, in the first minute of the new half Conor Grace sent a speculative shot goalward from 50 metres and the ball went all the way to the net. This seemed to be the clinching score, but Cloneen now threw caution to the wind.
They brought Marc Purcell out of goal and all the way up to the full-forward position. Daniel Barcoe played well at midfield and he now moved to man the centre-back postion with Shane Dunne moving upfield. These changes began to work and the challengers increased their tempo with Purcell and Kevin Brennan hitting a point each.
Shane Dunne added an excellent minor from a free out on the right wing. Suddenly Cloneen saw that they had a chance. When a Galmoy defender mishandled a high ball, Marc Purcell pounced and slammed the sliotar to the net.
Galmoy were under pressure and had to dig deep to withstand the Cloneen onslaught. For the second time in the game, a Galmoy defender stopped a ball which was going wide and Kevin Brennan seized the opportunity to send a scorcher to the roof of the net.
Cloneen then won a series of close in frees, but the Galmoy defence held out with Jack Delaney and Ryan Murphy being particularly solid. As time ebbed away, Galmoy showed mental strength and thanks to those late scores held out to clinch a place in the final against either Fenians (Johnstown) or Windgap, who must meet in the other semi final.
Galmoy - Billy Drennan, Ryan Murphy, Jack Delaney, Ned Lavelle, Colm Smith, Brandan Phelan (0-2), Conor Kelly, Conor Grace (1-5, 0-5frees), Conor Drennan, Oisín Phelan (0-3), Cathal Phelan (0-2), Sean Phelan (0-1), Dylan Grace, Evan Morrissey, Patrick Doyle.
Cloneen/Railyard - Marc Purcell (1-1), Aidan Barry, Michael Browne, Eamonn Brennan, Tristan Mayo, Shane Dunne (0-2, frees), Thomas Brennan, Daniel Barcoe, Eoin Regan, Kevin Young, Kevin Brennan (1-1), Ciaran Cooney, Cathal Barry, David Langton, Brandon Donoghue.
Referee - James Barry (Clara).