IN THE end a 54th minute goal from a penalty proved to be the decisive score of the game when determined Dunnamaggin cobbled together a hard earned and thrilling win over champions, Shamrocks (Ballyhale) in the senior hurling league, writes John Knox.
Hugginstown on Saturday was the place and time of the return to the hurling fold of Kilkenny star, Henry Shefflin, who was out for eight months following surgery to repair a severed cruciate.
While Shefflin’s return was warmly welcomed and was a source of great joy, the champions couldn’t mark the occasion with a win and they had no one to blame but themselves after shooting 15 wides.
The door was left open for Dunnamaggin at half-time when they were a mere 0-5 to 0-8 behind after playing against the strong wind. While Shamrocks were good in a creative and battling sense, their shooting was way off. By the rest they had recorded 10 wides.
The opposition didn’t have it easy as they tried to bridge the gap. It took them 11 minutes to draw level (0-8 each), by which time Shefflin had joined the fray.
The next item
It was Shefflin who provided the next two points, one from a free, to take the losers 0-10 to 0-8 ahead passing the third quarter. Dunnamaggin won a 65 and the good shooting, great defending Canice Hickey tossed the free shot over the bar.
Eoin Reid posted a reply at the other end after taking a clever, space creating pass from David Hoyne. The penalty goal was the next item on the agenda.
Sean Connery delivered in the ball from the ‘40’ on the right at the Knocktopher end. Bill McCormack fielded it brilliantly from the midst of a forest of ash. He was fouled. Penalty! Ken Moore blasted a bullet like shot to the net.
Dunnamaggin went into the lead for the first time, 1-9 to 0-11.
The action during the closing six minutes or so was played out at fever pitch as Shamrocks sought to save the day. They were met with stern opposition.
The last score of the game was a pointed free from McCormack after an under pressure Shamrocks defender was ruled to have handled the ball on the ground.
“We were very disappointed to lose the opening game against Graigue-Ballycallan, but this was a huge response from the players,” suggested Dunnamaggin manager, Seamus Knox.
A big win
“Our plan was to work hard and keep frees to the minimum. We did that. Our forwards worked very hard to keep the pressure on the opposing back so they didn’t get in handy clearances. This was a big win for us.”
Shamrocks looked to be moving well early on, but during the opening 24 minutes T.J. Reid was their lone scorer with seven points. Colin Fennelly became their second scorer when he finished a good move initiated by James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick.
Their attack rarely threatened the goal, although Aidan Donovan and goalie David Herity – this guy has really come on a ton and has learned to command his squarer – had to move smartly in the eight minute to prevent Eoin Reid from breaching the defences.
Anyway, Dunnamaggin were left hanging at the interval. They opened the new half with three unanswered points from Darren Fitzpatrick, Canice Hickey (free) and Mark Heffernan to draw level.
When presented with the opportunity to go for it, Dunnamaggin had the appetite, and the hurling men, especially the Hickeys’, Canice, who was wonderful, and Noel, along with Ken Moore, J.J. Dunphy, William Phelan and Darren Fitzpatrick.
Bob Aylward was terrific in the heart of the Shamrocks defence, while his best deputies were Aidan Cummins, James Walsh, James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick and Paul Shefflin.
Scorers: Dunnamaggin – Bill McCormack (0-3, frees); Ken Moore (1-0, penalty); Canice Hickey (0-3, one free, one 65); Thomas Maher, Sean Connery, Darren Fitzpatrick, Mark Heffernan (0-1 each). Shamrocks – T.J. Reid (0-6, two frees, one 65); Henry Shefflin (0-2, one free); Eoin Reid, Colin Fennelly, Mark Aylward (0-1 each).
Dunnamaggin – David Herity, Mark Dowling, Noel Hickey, Aidan Donovan, Willie Phelan, Canice Hickey, Andrew Hickey, Ken Moore, Darren Fitzpatrick, Mark Heffernan, J.J. Dunphy, Sean Connery, Seaghan O’Neill, Thomas Maher, Bill McCormack. Sub – Kieran Bergin.
Shamrocks – Eoin Knox, Alan Cuddihy, Aidan Cummins, Ger Fennelly, Paul Shefflin, Bob Aylward, James Walsh, James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick, Joseph Holden, Colin Fennelly, T.J. Reid, Mark Aylward, Eoin Reid, David Hoyne, Conor Walsh. Sub – Henry Shefflin.
Referee – Pat Dunphy (Carrigeen).