Four minutes into injury-time of this county junior hurling league clash at Galmoy on Sunday, Graignamanagh were awarded a 30 metre free in front of goal. With Galmoy one point ahead, one expected Eddie Walsh to pop the sliotar over the bar and settle for the draw.
However, Walsh’s shot slipped outside the upright and Galmoy escaped to victory.
The home side led by 1-10 to 0-4 at the interval after playing with the breeze. For the second week in succession they let their opponents back into the game and almost paid the price.
Ronan Dowling and Phil Russell exchanged early points before Galmoy hit a string of wides. Stephen Murphy settled them with a seventh minute free, his first of 10 during the afternoon. Martin Phelan added another from distance before Eddie Walsh opened the visitors account from a free following a foul on Cathal Roche.
Galmoy were dealt a blow after 10 minutes when Noel Doherty had to retire with a hamstring injury. Two Stephen Murphy frees extended their lead before a foul on Ronan Dowling saw Eddie Walsh add another free for Graig.
Straight off the puck-out James Dunne caught a good ball and passed to Nigel Stanley, who pointed. From that resultant puck-out Seamus Kavanagh pucked out a worn and battered sliotar.
That ploy backfired when Martin Phelan sent the ball right back in from 60 metres and the sliotar went into the top of the net off the goalie’s hurley. A lucky break for the hosts!
Jim Ryan popped over Graig’s last point of the half in the 19th minute. Galmoy had three more pointed frees from Stephen Murphy as Graignamanagh conceded some reckless fouls to leave the difference at nine points at the break.
One expected the southerners to respond after the break and with the strengthening breeze behind them, that is what they did.
They switched James Cahill from centre-back to centre-forward and he had a big influence on the fightback. Eddie Walsh started the ball rolling from a placed ball when a Galmoy defender picked the sliotar off the grass. Walsh then took a pass from Cahill and slotted over from an angle on the left.
Cahill soon added a point before Graig hit three bad wides in-a-row. In the interim, Stephen Murphy, from a free, and Phil Russell rose two Galmoy white flags. Murphy then made a good run forward before setting Stephen Delaney up for another Galmoy minor.
The Graig selectors then made their game saving move when they switched Eddie Walsh to full-forward in the 41st minute. The move paid off within a minute when Walsh sent a stinger to the net following a good cross by young Lee Kinsella. Two minutes later it was Kinsella who applied the finishing touch to the net following a long free downfield by full-back James Meaney.
That left it Galmoy 1-13, Graignamanagh 2-7 with quarter of an hour remaining.
As Graig introduced two more substitutes, Ronan Dowling pointed for the second time as the visiting full-forward line toyed with their opponents. Phil Russell was grounded at the other and Stephen Murphy brought the advantage back to three points.
Stephen Delaney had a good outing for Galmoy and, after blocking a defender’s clearance, he gathered the sliotar and pointed in the 52nd minute.
A minute later Lee Kinsella won a penalty for Graignamanagh as he tried for his second goal. Brendan Phelan blocked Eddie Walsh’s shot and Galmoy survived, but only momentarily.
Walsh fielded a delivery from substitute Adam Kennedy, rounded his man and struck home Graig’s third goal of the half. He then put over two quick frees. Graig led as the game slipped into injury-time.
Stephen Delaney and substitute Donncha Gray won two vital late frees for Galmoy, and sharpshooter Murphy made no mistake to give a one point lead to the hosts before the last minute drama. The result confines Graignamanagh to relegation territory, while Galmoy’s win pushes them up to a third place finish on the league table.
Galmoy - Joe Dollard, Brian Doherty, Brendan Phelan, Eamonn Corcoran, John Phelan, Niall Doherty, Michael Brennan, Nigel Stanley (0-1), Martin Phelan (1-1), Thomas Phelan (Bawn), Stephen Delaney (0-2), Noel Doherty, Phil Russell (0-3), Stephen Murphy (0-10, frees), James Dunne (capt). Subs - Frank Phelan for N. Doherty (inj); Donncha Gray for F. Phelan.
Graignamanagh - Seamus Kavanagh, Bernard Hennessy, James Meaney, Ciaran O’Brien, Diarmuid O’Neill, James Cahill (0-1), Jim O’Donnell, Brendan Foley, Jim Ryan (0-1), James Doyle, Padraig Whelan, Eddie Walsh (2-6, 0-5 frees), Lee Kinsella (1-0), Cathal Roche, Ronan Dowling(0-2). Subs - Leonard Blanchfield for J. Ryan; Paul Hamilton for P. Whelan; Adam Kennedy for J. Doyle.
Referee - Pat Hayes (Graigue Ballycallan).