A THRILLING game, one that arrowed right down to the wire, eventually saw Ballyhale Shamrocks emerge two points to the good over Glenmore in the first South junior ‘A’ hurling championship quarter-final, 3-11 to 3-9.
Played on Carrigeen’s immaculate pitch, this contest swung to and fro, start to finish. On 27 minutes, after Alan Murphy shot his second goal and sent Glenmore into a 3-4 to 0-4 lead, there would have been long odds on the ultimate victors.
That two scores were pegged back before half-time was crucial. First Eóin Doyle slotted a free. Into added time and Brian Cody gained possession in the square following a long delivery. With the deftest of flicks, the sliotar was lodged over the line.
Game right back on, 3-4 to 1-5 at the break. The Shamrocks came back out with momentum. James Aylward replied to another Doyle free before a Patrick Mullen brace in the 35th and 36th minutes sliced the margin.
Play swept up and down the field, with Ballyhale wing-back Keith Nolan becoming the dominant presence. Goalkeeper David Aylward had to be alert on several occasions, thwarting his opponents’ desire for a rejuvenating major score.
Alan Murphy, promising younger brother of inter-county panellist Eóin, snatched another point before the Shamrocks eventually broke through. A long ball towards the 20 metre line in the 43rd minute was cleverly broken by Gavin Butler. Enda Fitzpatrick pounced, made ground and unleashed a classic drive to the net.
Shortly, Doyle levelled at 2-9 to 3-6 with another conversion. A Cody point and a Doyle 65 established a two-point lead on 52 minutes.
Glenmore kicked back, with Ben Doherty raising a white flag. Then Paddy Murphy threw over a tremendous equalizing free in the 55th minute, leaving it 2-11 to 3-8.
It took a moment of brilliance to decide this contest. An angled Ballyhale ball towards the left corner two minutes later and Liam Grant scented opportunity. He lifted the rolling ball from in front of him in great style, wove forward and planted a precise stroke beyond Aylward.
Another Murphy free made for that most dangerous of leads, 3-11 to 3-9. There was a lot of play around the Shamrocks’ goal in the concluding minutes. But the defence gave no quarter and held on to make the Southern semi-final.
With Patrick Mullen having opened the scoring after six minutes, Denis O’Dwyer broke through for Glenmore’s first goal less than 60 seconds later. Next minute again, livewire Alan Murphy was in for another major score.
There forward, it was largely Deep South dominance until Murphy’s second goal nearly 20 minutes later. Little did the crowd know that the drama had only begun.
For the winners, captain Michael Dermody hurled a sterling hour at centre-back. Full-back Ger Holden was assured throughout, while Keith Nolan came into his own as the hour progressed. Keith Murphy improved matters after going in as a sub at corner-back.
Eóin Doyle made headway at midfield. Up front, Michael Carroll, Brian Cody, Liam Grant and Patrick Mullen were to the fore.
Glenmore had a capable goalkeeper in David Aylward. Their defence was best served by Seán Duggan and Paddy Foran.
Colm Doherty and Paddy Hennessy worked hard at midfield. Alan Murphy really caught the eye in attack, with Paddy Murphy a capable freetaker and Denis O’Dwyer a significant loss when he had to go off injured.
Ballyhale Shamrocks - David Harrington, Stephen Donnelly, Ger Holden, Brian Butler, Keith Nolan, Michael Dermody (capt), Kieran Grace, Willie Coogan, Eóin Doyle (0-5, four frees, one 65), Brian Cody (1-1), Gavin Butler (0-1), Liam Grant (1-0), Michael Carroll, Patrick Mullen (0-4), Enda Fitzpatrick (1-0). Subs - Keith Murphy for S. Donnelly; John Dermody, Dylan Doran, Darren Mason, Michael O’Sullivan.
Glenmore - David Aylward, Seán Duggan, Paddy Moran, Adrian Doherty, James Cody, Paddy Foran, Brian O’Donoghue, Colm Doherty, Paddy Hennessy, Paddy Murphy, capt (0-5, frees), Denis O’Dwyer (1-0), Paddy Connick, James Aylward (0-1), George Walsh, Alan Murphy (2-2). Subs - Ben Doherty (0-1) for P. Connick; David Garvey for D. O’Dwyer; Niall Dunne, Tommy Maher.
Referee - Dominic Connolly (Mooncoin).