It was either the ordinary or the extraordinary when Dicksboro escaped into the quarter-finals in Freshford on Saturday.
Fenians (Johnstown) opened in extraordinary form in this first round, cum relegation semi-final in the senior hurling championship when they literally played the opposition off the park. They were one time leaders by eight points (1-8 to 0-3).
They looked great. Then in the second half they lapsed into the ordinary.
Meanwhile, Dicksboro took the opposition route, hitting the ordinary in the first half when they looked destined for defeat and a place in the dreaded relegation final against Graigue-Ballycallan. After the turn they were on fire. They ended up in the championship quarter-finals. It was a mystifying day in Freshforfd, no doubt.
A topsy-turvy game threw up a wild start when Fenians goaled in the second minute through Willie Brennan, who beat the ’keeper in a 1-on-1 race to the ball after the winners defence parted like the Red Sea. By the eight minute the all action losers were 1-2 to 0-1 up thanks to the addition of points from the magnificent Conor Tobin and Mark Webster. They shot three wides as well.
Tobin was the leader in a powerful show that had the ’Boro retreating. Kieran Grehan was wonderful in attack too and Mark Webster was ever dangerous, while J.J. Delaney, John Hendersons and company didn’t give the oppositon a look in at the other end.
The points flowed as the explosive hurling continued. Webster, Tobin and Brennan all found the target as the divide ran up to 1-8 to 0-3 by the 23rd minute. Oh, Fenians had posted seven wides by this time.
Dicksboro were only hanging on. Cillian Buckley and David Glynn going well. Paul O’Flynn made the odd threatening run up front, but there was little besides. They sneaked three points per O’Flynn and Shane Maher (2) to cut the losses at the break to 1-9 to 0-6. They still looked in trouble. The Feninas wides tally was now nine.
Fenians opened the new half with a quick point from Conor Tobin. When the ’Boro saw a penalty shot crash against the crossbar in the 32nd minute - Kevin Kenny salvaged a point - it looked like the gods had ordained it wasn’t to be their day.
An exchange of points followed between the Buckley and Tobin. Then on 35 minutes Kevin Kenny got a run at the Fenians goal at the Threecastles end from a situation that developed out of virtually nothing. He drilled a dipping, angled shot into the bottom far corner of the net.
The deficit was back to 1-8 to 1-11. Dicksboro were back in the game. Suddenly the team caught fire. The list of high octane performers exploded, with Michael Fagan, Kevin Kenny, O’Flynn, Conor O’Loughlin, Walsh and hugely impressive sub Oisin Walsh absolutely dominant.
Mark Webster shot a point for Fenians following a foul on Darragh Tobin in reply to the winners goal. With the ’Boro now matching the losers for effort, the balance of power shifted. Shane Maher punished a foul on Kenny by nabbing a point. The flying O’Flynn landed another before the hugely influential Oisin Walsh landed the equaliser (1-12 ech) in the 41st minute.
A free for Dicksboro brought forward for dissent made Maher convesion task easier. The ’Boro got three points clear. The game finished with 28 players in their half as Fenians chased the winning goal deep in injury-time.
Scorers: Dicksboro - Kevin Kenny (1-3); Paul O’Flynn (0-5); Shane Maher (0-4, three frees); Cillian Buckley (0-2); Derek O’Gorman, Oisin Walsh (0-1 each). Fenians - Conor Tobin (0-5, one free); Willie Brennan (1-1); Mark Webster (0-4, two frees); Kevin Power (0-3, one free); Darragh Tobin (0-1).
Dicksboro - Aaron Duggan, Evan Cody, Kieran Cuddihy, Enda Malone, Michael Fagan, David Glynn, Tom Manning, Cillian Buckley, Conor O’Loughlin, Derek O’Gorman, Marco Ruessman, Ollie Walsh, Kevin Kenny, Shane Maher, Paul O’Flynn. Subs - Oisin Walsh for Ruessman; Martin Gaffney for O’Gorman.
Fenians - P.J. Ryan, Cathal Ryan, John Henderson, Declan Garrett, Rory Phelan, J.J. Delaney, Tom Bowe, J.P. Grehan, Kieran Grehan, John Broderick, Conor Tobin, Kevin Power, Mark Webster, Darragh Tobin, Willie Brennan. Subs - Danny Dermody for Bowe; Sean Brennan for Webster.
Referee - Eamon Mansfield (Cloneen).