Late ’Stephens surge catches ’Fort on the line

A late surge from James Stephens saw them get the better of a gallant Danesfort in Saturday’s senior league encounter in sunny Bennettsbridge.

A late surge from James Stephens saw them get the better of a gallant Danesfort in Saturday’s senior league encounter in sunny Bennettsbridge.

A string of eighth unanswered points in the final quarter did the trick as the city side finished strongly.

James Stephens opened the scoring with an Eoin Larkin 65, but only after Darren Booth had brilliantly blocked down Ben Lahart’s goal-bound shot. Larkin doubled the Village lead with a free before Richie Hogan opened Danesfort’s account from a placed ball.

The early stages of the game proved to be a shootout between the county men, as Larkin and Hogan traded frees, leaving the city side marginally ahead after the first quarter (0-3 to 0-2).

Danesfort moved into the lead for the first time when Hogan converted two more frees, awarded for fouls on Cathal O’Neill and Oisin Treacy, but Ben Lahart equalised with the first point from play on 18 minutes.

Hogan proved unerring from, placed balls, converting two more (65, free) to push Danesfort two clear again by the 20th minute. Once more Larkin narrowed the gap for the Village men, who levelled matters through Luke Scanlon.

That was as good as the first half got for Stephens. First off they lost Scanlon to injury, then fell behind to points from Cillian Treacy and Hogan. The game then sprang to life on the stroke of half-time when good link-up play between Richie Hogan and Robert Walsh set up Oisin Daly, who was waiting on the 14 yard line to tap home for Danesfort.

The goal was just the tonic Danesfort (and the game) needed, but a late Eoin Larkin free saw Stephens cut Danesfort’s lead to four at half-time (1-8 to 0-7).

James Stephens started the second half with a spark, rattling off the first three points. Eoin Larkin, David Walton and Tomas Keogh all scored from play as they cut the gap to just a point by the 37th minutes.

Robert Walsh stopped the rot for Danesfort with a well-taken point soon after, Hogan then pushing Danesfort’s lead back out to three (1-10 to 0-10) by the 43rd minute when he slotted over a free after a foul on Jim Phelan.

Little did they know, but that would prove to be Danesfort’s last score of the game. Larkin reduced arrears with a free from the 21-yard line, and was on target again with a like score from further afield after Ben Lahart was fouled.

With five minutes to play Larkin equalized for the Village, who finished the stronger side thanks to late scores from Ger Flood (3) and Conor Browne.

The ever-influential Larkin finished the scoring in injury-time, taking his tally into double figures to ensure the Village men went home with the points.

SCORERS: James Stephens - Eoin Larkin (0-10, 0-8 frees); Ger Flood (0-3); Ben Lahart, Luke Scanlon, David Walton, Tomas Keogh, Conor Browne (0-1 each). Danesfort - Richard Hogan (0-8, frees); Oisin Daly (1-0); Cillian Treacy, Robert Walsh (0-1 each).

James Stephens - Gavin Costigan, John Comerford, Jackie Tyrrell, Luke Hickey, Jack McGrath, Thomas Keogh, Niall Mullins, Ray Coady, Eamon Sheehy, Luke Scanlon, Eoin Larkin, Ben Lahart, David Walton, Ger Flood, Richie Hayes. Sub: Conor Browne.

Danesfort - Paddy Hickey, Darren Booth, Liam Forristal, Michael Cunningham, Gavin O’Keeffe, Paul Murphy, Philip Walsh, Jim Phelan, Darragh Sheehan, David Forristal, Cathal O’Neill, Richard Hogan, Robert Walsh, Cillian Treacy, Oisin Daly. Sub: Cillian Treacy.

Referee - John Kennedy (Shamrocks).