There was a lot at stake when Conahy Shamrocks and Mooncoin clashed in the last round of the intermediate hurling league in Ballyhale.
Both teams knew before this Saturday game that they would most likely be playing in the first round of the championship. What they wanted to avoid was finishing in the bottom two because that would bring the added pressure of possible relegation.
No team wants that situation!
A stiff breeze favoured the side playing into the scoreboard end. Mooncoin had the advantage in the first half. They started impressively with points from Ray Wall (free) and Diarmuid Mackey.
They looked the more assured team, and the opposition looked edgy. A point from Kieran Mooney settled Conahy.
The scoring was tit-for-tat for 10 minutes with the sides sharing four points. Midway through the half Mooncoin took control and scored five unanswered points to lead by 0-10 to 0-4. Again they looked very threatening.
Couldn’t handle puck-outs
Conahy’s difficulties stemmed from an inability to handle affairs on their own puck-outs. The stiff breeze was holding the ball in the air, leaving the attacking side with a distinct advantage.
The closing exchanges of the half were important for Conahy, who made good gains. Alan Healy worked hard to win a difficult ball before shooting a great point. Ray Wall replied with another free for Mooncoin but Conahy finished impressively with points from Declan Buggy and Alan Healy to leave four the divide at the break.
During the third quarter Conahy took a firm grip on affairs. Points from Shane Brennan and John Mullen narrowed the gap. The game took a major turn shortly afterwards. First Declan Buggy flicked a Brian Healy free to the net. Moments later sub Paraic Nolan shot another three-pointer. In between Kieran Mooney pointed. Conahy were flying!
From being four points in arrears Conahy were now ahead by four. Mooncoin were far from finished. They came back impressively during the closing 10 minutes with points from Liam Walsh, a pointed free from Ray Wall and a great goal from Danny Purcell.
Momentum with Mooncoin
The Purcell goal levelled it and the momentum was with Mooncoin. A draw looked likely until Conahy struck late with a brace of points from Shane Brennan.
Despite nervousness at times, Conahy was the better side most of the way but they struggled to maintain their grip when leading midway through the second half. Mooncoin deserve credit for battling their way back. Conahy lost their shape and were hesitant when offered some relatively easy scoring opportunities.
Mooncoin could well have scored a second goal in the closing stages which would probably have seen them take the points and land Conahy in the relegation zone.
Not for the first time the margin between being safe and the relegation zone was extremely tight.
Scorers: Conahy Shamrocks - Shane Brennan (0-6, 0-3 frees); Declan Buggy (1-1); Kieran Mooney, John Mullan, Alan Healy (0-2, each); Paraic Nolan (1-0). Mooncoin - Ray Wall (0-6, 0-4 frees); Danny Purcell (1-0); Michael Grace & Liam Walsh 0-2); Diarmuid Mackey, Keith Kirwan, Cormac Fleming & Eoin Hennebry (0-1 each).
Conahy Shamrocks - Andy O’Keeffe; Seamus Óg Brennan; Paul Buggy; Tom Mullan; Donal Brennan; Brian Healy; Gary Kavanagh; John Wallace; John Mullan; Paddy Mullan; Declan Buggy; Kieran Mooney; Shane Brennan; Alan Healy; Peter Vickery. Subs - Paraic Nolan; Gavin Nolan; Barry Murphy; Philly Cass.
Mooncoin - Paddy Kinsella; Tommy O’Hanlon; Niall Mackey; Conor Brophy; Eoin Crowley; Eamonn Hennebry; Sean Wall; Ray Wall; Stephen Crowley; Cormac Fleming; Seamus Kearns; Eoin Hennebry; Keith Kirwan; Diarmuid Mackey; Michael Grace. Subs - Shane Walsh; Danny Purcell; Liam Walsh; James McGrath.
Referee - Michael O’Sullivan (Ballyhale Shamrocks).