They managed just two points in the second half, but Danesfort still came out smiling in the senior hurling league.
Richie Hogan was the man of the moment, striking a last gasp score to secure the points and dash the hopes of a fast-finishing Fenians.
Having trailed by six points at half-time (0-12 to 1-6), the Johnstown men ground out the scores until they stood on level terms going into the final stages on a wet and miserable Friday night in Tullaroan.
It looked like the teams would share the spoils, but Danesfort thought otherwise. Latching on to Tony Woodcock’s pass Hogan moved from the centre out to the right, dashing up the wing before squeezing the sliotar over the bar from the tightest of angles.
It was a heartbreaking finish for Fenians, but the combination of a slow start and a high wides tally really hampered their chances of earning their first league points at the second attempt.
Keen to make amends for their own opening day loss, Danesfort leaped smartly from the blocks. Paul Murphy proved as much, bursting forward to strike a point inside 10 seconds, Cathal O’Neill adding another before the opening minute had elapsed.
The ’Fort were most impressive in the opening quarter, driving forward at every opportunity and pushing Fenians back towards their own half. Philip Walsh and Darragh Sheehan led the charge, keeping the Fenians on their heels as their colleagues snapped up more points.
While Robbie Walsh and Hogan (2) added points for the leaders, there was nothing but frustration for the Fenians. They hit four wides before Mark Webster grabbed their opening point in the 12th minute, but they couldn’t build on it.
The pace-setters didn’t appear to have any problems finding the target. with Cathal O’Neill (2) and Hogan to the fore, and captain Philip Walsh chipping in with another, Danesfort streaked into a nine point lead (0-10 to 0-1) by the 24th minute.
Things looked bleak for Fenians, but a glimmer of hope was just around the corner.
Minutes after converting a free, John Broderick seized on a loose ball and set off for the scoreboard end goal.
Driving past several challenges, Broderick off-loaded possession to Danny Dermody, who showed a coolness to beat ’keeper Paddy Hickey with a neat shimmy before booting the sliotar to the net.
That goal, followed by another Broderick free, was Fenians’ best spell of the first half. Yet it was Danesfort who finished on a high, Hogan (free) and Gavin O’Keeffe grabbing injury-time points to take the sting out of the Johnstown rally (0-12 to 1-6).
It took the sides a little longer to get into gear in the second half, but it was Fenians who found the better form.
Switches paid off
Making several switches, including moving J.J. Delaney to centre-back, paid off as they knocked Danesfort out of their confident stride - a Hogan free on 38 minutes was their sole score for most of the half.
Little by little, the Johnstown men inched their way back into the game. Broderick was to the fore, snapping up a hat-trick of frees, while Conor Tobin’s impressive point from a sideline cut spurred the cause on even more.
Just as the Fenians had faltered in the first half, now it was Danesfort’s turn to splutter. Their attack was forced out of the game in the second half, dominated by a Fenians backline which adapted to a pitch that became greasier as the evening progressed.
Driving his side on, Tobin scored a mammoth 54th minute free from inside his own half. That left just one point between the sides, a gap that was rubbed out when Broderick bagged another free.
At that stage it seemed the Fenians had all but completed their comeback. However that nagging wide count, by now on the cusp of double figures, came back to haunt them when Hogan sunk that last gasp point.
SCORERS: Danesfort - Richie Hogan (0-7, 0-4 frees); Cathal O’Neill (0-3); Paul Murphy, Robbie Walsh, Philip Walsh, Gavin O’Keeffe (0-1 each). Fenians - John Broderick (0-6 frees); Danny Dermody (1-0); Conor Tobin (0-2, 0-1 free, 0-1 line ball); Mark Webster, Diarmuid Broderick (0-1 each).
Danesfort - Paddy Hickey, Michael Cunningham, Liam Forristal, Tony Woodcock, Gavin O’Keeffe, Paul Murphy, Philip Walsh, Jim Phelan, Darragh Sheehan, David Forristal, Cathal O’Neill, Richie Hogan, Cillian Treacy, Robbie Walsh, Oisin Daly. Subs: Colm Phelan, Paddy Hogan.
Fenians - P.J. Ryan, Luke Hughes, J.J. Delaney, Eoin Phelan, J.P. Grehan, John Henderson, Rory Phelan, John Broderick, Willie Brennan, Cathal Ryan, Conor Tobin, Sean Brennan, Mark Webster, Danny Dermody, Diarmuid Broderick. Subs: Pa Duggan, Kieran Grehan.
Referee - Sean Cleere (O’Loughlin Gaels).