A late charge saw Kilkenny footballers Muckalee narrowly miss out on a place in the Leinster intermediate club semi-finals.
The four-in-a-row county champions Muckalee made the short trip to St Martin’s GAA pitch in Wexford for their provincial quarter-final clash with St Fintan’s.
Short three of their regular starters in captain Paul Maher, Tom Morrissey and Joe Maher, this was always going to be tough task - but the Kilkennymen rose to the challenge.
Despite the absentees Muckalee roared into action from the start, taking the lead with a pointed free from the influential Colin McGrath. Shane Sinnott hit back with a fine point for the home side before Cathal O’Brien put St Fintan’s ahead.
Colin McGrath levelled matters at the end of the first quarter with a free, then put the Cats ahead with another minor score. St Fintan’s threatened when Sinnott broke through on goal but he was denied when John Coonan pulled off a great save. There was some consolation for the hosts, Donal Shanley converting the resulting 45.
Muckalee dominated proceedings in the run up to half time but they missed chance after chance until Eoin McGrath found his brother Colin, who duly sent the green flag waving leaving Muckalee 1-4 to 0-3 up at the break.
The game largely turned on an incident early in the second half when Paddy Nolan was dismissed for two yellow cards. The sending-off was a blow to Muckalee’s hopes, especially as Fintan’s used the man advantage to force their way back into the game.
By the 51st minute the Wexford club had levelled matters, Cathal O’Brien (2), Shanley & Doyle all bagging points to restore parity.
However, the men from Muckalee were not going to lie down. Rising to the challenge, points from McGrath and John Mulhall eased them back in front (1-7 to 0-8).
A Joey Wadding score left a point in it but the game was level when Shanley scored on the brink of injury-time. The extra man proved too much in injury-time, sending Muckalee to only their second defeat in four years.
SCORERS: St Fintan’s - Donal Shanley (0-4, 0-3 frees), Cathal O’Brien (0-3), Joey Wadding, Conor Sinnott, Padraig Doyle, Brendan Hughes, Adrian Murphy (0-1 each). Muckalee - Colin McGrath (1-6, 0-4 frees), John Mulhall (0-1).
Muckalee - John Coonan, Canice Maher, Ollie Walsh, Aidan Murphy, Martin Dowling, Paddy Nolan, Mick Morrissey, James Maher, Brian Byrne, Shane Coonan, Robert Shore, John Mulhall, Colm McGrath, John Maher, Eoin McGrath. Subs: Joe Maher, Noel D’Arcy, Alan Murphy.
St Fintan’s - Patrick McDonnell, Adrian Murphy, Frank Staples, Jimmy Staples, Brendan Hughes, Kevin Day, Jim Rossiter, Padraig Doyle, Shane Sinnott, Conor Day, Conor Sinnott, Joey Wadding, Donal Shanley, Cathal O’Brien, Eoin Whitmore. Sub: Tomas Power.
Referee - Kieran Kelly.