A SMART finish from Andrew McGovern helped hard-working Mullinavat move to the top of their intermediate hurling league group.
McGovern’s 52nd minute goal provided the cushion the ’Vat men, who were without the injured Willie O’Dwyer, needed to stop a wasteful Danesfort in their tracks at a rain-sodden Ballyhale on Friday.
Sparked by the creativity and drive of Padraig Gahan and Michael Malone, McGovern did well to reach out and flick corner-back Tony Duggan’s teasing ball, which dropped between the full-back line and goalkeeper, past the advancing Frank Manogue before finishing to the empty net.
Mullinavat were just as impressive from the off, moving four points clear by the seventh minute thanks to some fine long range frees from Conor Conway (2) and Ian Duggan.
It took Danesfort a little longer to find their range – in a frustrating half they shot 11 wides before the interval – but the game swung their way just as Mullinavat’s form dipped.
Richie Hogan started the revival in the 13th minute, and in style. Racing on to a sweeping free from brother Paddy, Hogan left four backs trailing in his wake as he cut across the pitch and hammered an unstoppable shot into the dressing-room end net.
Sparked into life, within four minutes they were in front. Tony Woodcock added a point, before Richie Hogan grabbed another to edge the Fort ahead by the 17th minute (1-2 to 0-4). They moved three clear by the 24th minute, Hogan shooting two more points, but they could have been even further in front. Hogan’s last point came after another scintillating burst, but his attempted flick over outrushing James Culleton just cleared the ’Vat ’keeper’s crossbar.
The Southerners heeded that let-off, and raised their game. By half-time they were just a point behind, two late Conway frees leaving them in the reckoning after enduring a barren 19-minute spell (1-4 to 0-6).
Danesfort were first off the mark in the second half, doubling their lead with a Richie Hogan free as the rain started to teem down. They couldn’t move on from there though – ’Fort managed just three points in the second half – as two like scores from Conor Conway had the ’Vat level by the 36th minute.
That’s not to say that they didn’t have chances. Richie Hogan went close to bagging another goal when his side were awarded a penalty in the 41st minute after Stephen Duncan was fouled in the square.
Going for goal, Hogan let fly with a stinging shot, but Ian Duggan made a fine save, stopping the sliotar on the line before clearing it to safety.
That seemed to spur Mullinavat on and, thanks to some hard work, they took the lead once more. Led by Padraig Gahan’s drive up the right flank saw the sliotar move through the hands of Michael Malone and Jamie Fennelly before Dinny Butler split the posts with 17 minutes to play.
Although Richie Hogan cancelled that score out with fine solo point, another Conway free had the ’Vat back in front by the 49th minute. They cemented pole position with McGovern’s goal.
Danesfort had no answer; although they narrowed the gap slightly with another Hogan free they were shut out of the game by a resolute ’Vat.
SCORERS: Mullinavat – Conor Conway (0-7, frees), Andrew McGovern (1-0), Dinny Butler (0-2), Ian Duggan (0-1, free). Danesfort – Richie Hogan (1-5, 0-2 frees), Tony Woodcock (0-1).
Mullinavat – J. Culleton, T. Duggan, S. Farrell, Joe Fennelly, I. Duggan, W. Burke, D. Aylward, C. Conway, P. Gahan, P. Raftice, M. Malone, D. Butler, S. Aylward, Jamie Fennelly, A. McGovern. Sub: J. Gahan for S. Aylward, 60 mins.
Danesfort – F. Manogue, P. Walsh, Ciaran Treacy, L. Forristal, C. O’Neill, P. Hogan, G. O’Keeffe, B. O’Connor, T. Woodcock, P. Forristal, D. Forristal, P. Murphy, Cillian Treacy, S. Duncan, R. Hogan.
Referee – P. Bowden (Lisdowney).