THEY may have already been consigned to one of the ‘relegation zones’ but Dicksboro made sure they will face into the senior hurling championship on a winning note, writes Trevor Spillane after they beat Graigue-Ballycallan by 0-18 to 0-15.
The city side showed the greater effort, and cooler heads when it mattered, as they got the better of Graigue-Ballycallan in a tepid encounter in Nowlan Park on Sunday.
With both teams, winless from four previous games, already assured of fifth and sixth places in their group it might have seemed as if there was little to play for but pride. However, the city side found an extra gear in the final 10 minutes to pull away and register their first victory.
There was very little to split the sides in the opening stages in terms of scoring, but Graigue buzzed about the pitch with sharper intensity. Eddie Brennan typified that, gathering a Bob Murphy hand-pass and skipping inside the challenge of Cillian Buckley before splitting the O’Loughlin’s End posts with a fine 11th minute point from long range.
With Niall Millea showing good form from frees Graigue moved into a two-point lead by the 23rd minute (0-6 to 0-4), but suddenly the scores dried up. The ’Boro seized on this, upping their efforts as they set about taking control before the interval.
Helped by a fine point from Michael Fagan’s burst forward, the city side strung a neat scoring run together before the interval. Cillian Starr and Shane Maher followed suit, with Kevin Kenny sprinting past Murphy on his way to a fine solo score that left his side two clear at the interval (0-8 to 0-6).
The close nature of the game continued on into the second half, with Graigue levelling matters within 120 seconds thanks to Niall Millea and a mammoth Adrian Burke free from his own 65m line.
The match didn’t fully ignite, however, smouldering on with the sides still level as the clock ticked towards into the final 15 minutes. Still, Dicksboro did have a fleeting glimpse at goal when Kevin Kenny was put through thanks to Michael Fagan’s lofted 43rd minute pass, but he was denied thanks to Bob Murphy’s excellent hook.
The sides were still level - on 13 points apiece - when the ’Boro made their dash for victory. Shane Maher pointed them in the right direction with a 52nd minute free, closely followed by sub Tom Manning’s point after he gathered Paul O’Flynn’s crossfield ball.
To the fore
Maher was to the fore at this stage, bagging a point from play after Robbie Fitzpatrick batted down a ball into his path. He then added a free, completing a four-point haul in little over two minutes that pushed his team towards the spoils.
That said, Graigue weren’t about to give in too easily. Niall Millea whittled a point off the gap with a free, closely followed by another fine Eddie Brennan point, the former county man nipping in to pick up a loose ball ahead of Ollie Walsh and put it over the Town End crossbar with his back to goal.
However, the ’Boro weren’t about to let the game slip now. After P.J. Trant made an instinctive save to deny Eoin Gough a goal from close range Martin Gaffney, who missed a few minutes while being treated for injury, came back on to convert the stoppage time 65 that settled matters.
SCORERS: Dicksboro - Martin Gaffney (0-6, 0-3 frees, 0-2 65); Shane Maher (0-4, 0-2 frees); Paul O’Flynn (0-2); Michael Fagan, Cillian Buckley, Eoin Gough, Tom Manning, Cillian Starr, Kevin Kenny (0-1 each). Graigue-Ballycallan - Niall Millea (0-6, 0-3 frees); Adrian Burke (0-3, 0-2 frees); Eddie Brennan (0-3); John Purcell (0-2); Willie O’Connor (0-1).
Dicksboro - A. Duggan, K. Cuddihy, E. Malone, D. Kenny, R. Fitzpatrick, D. Glynn, M. Fagan, C. Buckley, O. Walsh, M. Gaffney, E. Gough, K. Kenny, C. Starr, S. Maher, P. O’Flynn. Sub: T. Manning for Starr, 43 mins.
Graigue-Ballycallan - P.J. Trant, D. Egan, G. Teehan, S. Murphy, B. Murphy, J. Ryall, J. Murphy, A. Burke, E. Brennan, D. Heafey, N. Millea, T. Ryan, W. O’Connor, J. Hoyne, J. Purcell. Subs: S. O’Dwyer for Ryan, 50 mins; J. Cleere for Burke, 60 mins.
Referee - R. Dowling (Kilmacow).