It was yet another cracker in the on-going saga of the South under-21 Roinn A hurling championship. This game was played in Carrigeen on Saturday, but even extra-time could not separate favourites Glenmore and Mullinavat at the end of a pulsating 80 minute final.
The game started at 2.30pm and finished in near darkness. In fact, the Mullinavat equaliser from a 40-metre free caused confusion on our side of the pitch.
People were not exactly sure whether Mark Mansfield or Simon Aylward had actually fired it over. The bush radio furnished the answer - it was Aylward. In a funny sort of way, that little mystery added to the fund and enjoyment of a top class afternoon of hurling.
It struck people as a bit odd that extra time should have been played, given that the Northern end of the competition was still only at the semi-final stage. Whoever the eventual winners are in the South, they will be well prepared for the county final.
There was so much to admire in this game. The energy expounded by practically every player on the park was astonishing. There were heroics by both sets of defenders.
Nuggets of skill
It was matched by great nuggets of skill from so many around the midfield areas and, of course, we still needed forwards to put some colour into the mix, and how they obliged.
For Glenmore there was the so talented Alan Murphy putting on a PhD display of point scoring. He certainly earned the acclaim of fanws when compiling a haul of 0-16 (two 65s’ and 14 frees). Excellent as that achievement was, it took tremendously hard work by a big number of his Glenmore colleagues to buy the chances from which Murphy capitalised.
One of Murphy’s frees was fired over from an outrageous distance, estimated at over 110 metres. He is still a minor next season. He is a very talented hurler.
To a lesser extent, Mark Mansfield was Mullinavat’s go to man. He came out of the game with his personal tally struck at 1-7, with a goal and a point from play. The game was as tight as a hair pin bend on a downhill in the Tour de France.
At 10 minutes Glenmore led by 0-3 to 0-2. By the 20 minute mark they still led, this time by 0-4 to 0-3. At 24 minutes, a Mark Mansfield goal had shot Mullinavat into a 1-4 to 0-4 lead.
At the break it still remained advantage to the ’Vat men by that goal: Mullinavat 1-7, Glenmore 0-7.
By the 38th minute that huge Murphy free kept his side in touch. Excitement was mind blowing. The same Murphy slotted Glenmore to the front in the 43rd minute.
Two minutes later, the talented Ger Malone goaled.
Mullinavat two up! They were three up at 53 minutes; Glenmore one in front by the 59th minute but John Walsh levelled it on the stroke of full time.
There were so many tired, pained bodies, but they weren’t finished.
Points by Mark Mansfield and Darren Kenneally afforded Mullinavat a one-point advantage at the end of the first period of extra time. Alan Murphy scored the Glenmore single in that period.
Murphy levelled at the start of the second half of added time. He shot them ahead too, but amazingly he shot two frees wide when he had been so perfect earlier. In the frantic final minutes Mullinavat earned a free on the sideline, 40 metres out.
It all came down on the shoulders of Simon Aylward. Cometh the test, cometh the man. His effort flew over the black mark on the crossbar. It was powerful hurling.
I am already looking forward to the replay.
Scorers: Mullinavat - Mark Mansfield (1-7, six pointed frees); John Walsh (0-4); Ger Malone (1-1); Simon Aylward (0-2); Darren Kenneally (0-1). Glenmore - Alan Murphy (0-16, two 65s’, 14 frees); Ger Aylward (0-2); Liam Hennessy, Mark Aylward, Dean Ceoke (0-1 each).
Mullinavat - Conor Frisby, Mickey Jones, Thomas Aylward, Conor Duggan, Brian Phelan, Simon Aylward, Robbie Malone, Darren Kenneally, Mark Mansfield, Ger Malone, Pat Mulhearne, Darren Watters, Mossy Jones, John Walsh, Adam Mansfield. Subs - Nathan Malone.
Glenmore - Shane Murphy, Adrian Doherty, Colm Foran, Michael Cody, Sean Duggan, Philip Roche, Colm Doherty, Shane Doherty, Brian O’Donoghue, Alan Murphy, Liam Hennessy, Ger Aylward, Eoin Aylward, Mark Aylward, Dean Croke. Subs - David Flynn, Ben Doherty, Patrick Foran.
Referee - John Walsh (Rower Inistioge).