How fine is the margin between victory and defeat? It could be as little as the width of a hurley.
Dicksboro found that out when they eked out a tight win to overtake city rivals James Stephens to earn a senior hurling league Shield final berth.
The ’Boro boys had the quick-thinking Eddie O’Donoghue to thank for their shot at the silverware, as his late goal proved decisive in Saturday evening’s tussle in Nowlan Park.
With the sides level approaching the end of normal time (1-17 to 2-14) Dicksboro pushed for a late lead, but it seemed their hopes would be dashed as Village netmidner Derrick Brennan picked off Paul Flynn’s 58th minute point attempt.
Leaving his line, Brennan went to launch a long ball downfield, but as the sliotar left his hand O’Donoghue nipped in to flick it to the net.
The Boro were almost as quick off the mark from throw-in, netting the opening goal inside three minutes. Already in front (0-2 to 0-1), they got a huge boost when Andrew Gaffney read the flight of Cillian Buckley’s raking diagonal ball and surged past his marker before tucking a low shot past Derrick Brennan.
Although Eoin Larkin shaved two points off the deficit (65, free) Gaffney (free) kept Dicksboro ahead. However, the game turned on its head when the Village went on a powerful run, rattling off 2-2 inside six minutes to take the game by the scruff of the neck.
They got the run going in style, Ger Flood doing well to battle for a loose ball before teeing up Larkin to rattle the net with an unstoppable 19th minute strike. Jack McGrath chipped in with a point before the hard-working Flood delivered a clever ball for David Walton to collect and drive to the O’Loughlin end net.
With Flood adding another point, Stephens had gone from three points down to five in front in a matter of minutes (2-5 to 1-3).
That run stung the Boro, but they regained their composure and took the game to their rivals. Getting to grips in the middle third helped, as did a run of points from Andrew Gaffney (two frees and a 65) and another from Eddie O’Donoghue. They could have yielded more scores, but at times they were let down by some poor passes and the final ball.
Even though they were under pressure, the Village weren’t about to concede the advantage. Walton lifted the siege with a good point, before a Larkin free left them three clear at the break (2-7 to 1-7).
The Village maintained control of the game in the early stages of the second half (2-10 to 1-8), but once Dicksboro clicked into gear they really got moving. Andrew Gaffney led the charge, hitting four of a six-point ’Boro drive. Two of his scores were frees from his own half, the last of which edged the Palmerstown men ahead by the 43rd minute (1-14 to 2-10).
Gaffney wasn’t the only element in this drastic change in fortunes - Cillian Buckley, Robbie Fitzpatrick and Enda Malone also played their parts - but it looked as if their efforts would count for nothing once the Village hit back again.
Led by the influential Larkin (free), they moved ahead when Ger Flood and Ray Coady chipped in with scores, but they couldn’t contain their rivals for too long.
An interesting battle swung back in favour of Dicksbor when Gaffney (free) and O’Donoghue levelled matters, then Ollie Walsh coolly slotted his side ahead after he gathered Cillian Buckley’s clever pass.
When another Larkin free restored parity it seemed as if the teams would have to settle for a point apiece (a result which would have suited the Village) - but Dicksboro weren’t done yet. That clever O’Donoghue flick flattened ’Stephens, with sub Kevin Kenny making sure of the win with a last gasp point.
SCORERS: Dicksboro - Andrew Gaffney (1-9, 0-6 frees, 0-2 65); Eddie O’Donoghue (1-2); Paul O’Flynn, Shane Maher (0-2 each); Martin Gaffney, Ollie Walsh, Kevin Kenny (0-1 each). James Stephens - Eoin Larkin (1-6, 0-4 frees, 0-1 65); David Walton (1-2); Ger Flood (0-2); Jackie Tyrrell, Jack McGrath, Luke Scanlon, Donnache Cody (0-1 each).
Dicksboro - Darragh Holohan, Evan Cody, David Glynn, Robbie Fitzpatrick, Eoin Gough, Michael Fagan, Enda Malone, Ollie Walsh, Cillian Buckley, Stephen Farrell, Shane Maher, Paul O’Flynn, Andrew Gaffney, Martin Gaffney, Eddie O’Donoghue. Subs: Kevin Kenny for Farrell, 50 mins; Cillian Starr for A. Gaffney (inj), 60 mins.
James Stephens - Derrick Brennan, John Comerford, Tomas Keogh, Luke Hickey, Niall Mullins, Jackie Tyrrell, Diarmuid Cody, Jack McGrath, Eamon Sheehy, Ray Coady, Ger Flood, David Walton, Luke Scanlon, Eoin Larkin, Matthew Ruth. Sub: Donnacha Cody for Coady, 50 mins.
Referee - Eamon Mansfield (Cloneen).