Here was a South junior hurling championship quarter-final that had as many changes in presentation as a mannequin on a catwalk. Piltown roared into the game from the start, and their fire and determination would have given the sizeable crowd from Callan an overdose of reasons why their favourites were about to be incinerated.
I mean, after eight minutes, Piltown led by a hard to credit 1-5 to no score for John Lockes (Callan). In truth, John Lockes supporters feared what the eventual score might have been.
It looked all over a Piltown annihilation of a lesser power. Midway through the first half, the Piltown lead had been pushed out to 10 points. Surely referee, Michael O’Sullivan could have blown a merciful long whistle to call a halt to such torture.
But these Callan guys are nothing if not enigmatic. Slowly, so very slowly, they clawed their way to a slight chance scenario by half time. Their defenders were wobbling under persistently crunching pressure, but from Jason Corcoran (he has been afflicted by a debilitating virus for the past number of weeks) in as a standby goalkeeper to the absolutely outstanding Bill McDowell at left half back, the John Lockes defenders were stoically unyielding, unconventional and unapologetic.
Eoin Fahy had the game of his life, while Tony Delaney was safety personified at fullback. The Kennedy brothers, Liam and Paddy never faltered, while Mark Nolan was a giant on the halfback line.
Both sides were short some first-rate players.
Pa Connolly was not around for the Iverk lads, and neither were Nicky Kenny. Andrew Norris, Adam Murphy, and Richie McCarthy. But then the winning Callan lads had no Jack McDowell, Simon Burke, JP.Corcoran, nor an outfield Jason Corcoran.
At half time the John Lockes were bringing up the rear as they were headed by a very competent Piltown by 1-11 to 1-4.
The Piltown goal came, compliments of Dean Brophy after an unbelievable eight seconds, while the John Lockes goal was quarried from a John O’Neill penalty in the 26th minute.
Such was the performance of the Piltown men in the first half that one could not visualise too many anxious moments being in store for them as they eased through the second moiety. Shane Kinsella, Kevin Walsh, Peter McCarthy were defending their territory with consummate ease, while Philly Kenny and Martin Power were winning the midfield battles.
The second half was interestingly amazing for a whole raft of reasons. Firstly Piltown morphed from being a totally in control outfit, to one that would have been very satisfied with survival.
They managed a paltry four second half points, three from frees, while the domineering Callan outfit slammed home a very creditable 2-10. Not only did they craft such a score, but their shooting from easy positions, and from frees was woefully poor, shooting nine frees wide of the target.
Owen McGrath and young Bill Mc Dowell took over at midfield for the Callan lads in the second half. Shane Bergin, Josh Haines, and Ger Shelly were causing chaos in among the Piltown defenders.
John Lockes were getting up a head of steam.
With four minutes remaining, John Lockes were still in the wash of the Piltown slipstream by four points. With two minutes remaining, a fortuitous goal by Ger Shelly sliced three points from that lead. A Kevin Walsh point doubled the Piltown advantage, as the game went into added time.
Josh Haines halved the advantage in the 61st minute, and a last-ditch attempt at winning by John Lockes resulted in a levelling freeby John O’Neill, when a goal should have won it.
In extra time, it was level after 40 minutes, but a winner-take-all surge by the Callan lads got them over the line in front, but truly it should never have come to that.
Scorers: John Lockes - John O’Neill (1-7, goal pen. six frees); Mark Shelly (1-1); Ger Shelly (1-0); Owen McGrath, Josh Haines (0-2 each); Shane Bergin, Bill McCormack (0-1 each). Piltown - Martin Power (0-9, five frees); Dean Brophy (1-2, two pointed frees); Peter McCarthy (0-3, two frees); Philly Kenny (0-2); Kevin Walsh, Neil Kelly, David Burchill (0-1 each).
John Lockes - Jason Corcoran, Eoin Fahy, Tony Delaney, Liam Kennedy, Mark Nolan, Paddy Kennedy, Bill McDowell, Jim Power, Owen McGrath, Josh Haines, John O’Neill, Bill McCormack, Ger Shelly, Shane Bergin, Mark Shelly.
Piltown - David Burchill, Brendan Norris, Shane Kinsella, Conor O’Shea, Kevin Walsh, Peter McCarthy, Martin Kirby, Martin Power, Philly Kenny, David Kinsella, Nollaig Brophy, Robbie Culleton, James Murphy, Neil Kelly, Dean Brophy. Sub - Aidan Nugent.
Referee - M. O’Sullivan (Ballyhale).