RICHIE Hogan dragged Danesfort over the line to victory, but not even a personal haul of 1-10 could keep his side from facing into a relegation battle, writes Trevor Spillane after Dunnamaggin were beaten by 1-15 to 1-12.
On the balance the ’Fort were worthy of the win, their first in the competition, but it was Dunnamaggin who were left kicking themselves after their senior hurling league campaign came to a disappointing end in Hugginstown on Saturday.
Two points up with less than 10 minutes left to play - and with Tullaroan losing to St Martin’s - Dunna’ were on the brink of getting the result that would have brought mid-table security.
However a final ’Fort flurry, rattled off by Hogan, proved to be their undoing.
The sucker punch came in the 55th minute, when Danesfort trailed by just a point. Awarded a free after sub Ben O’Connor was tugged back, Richie Hogan caught everyone off-guard when he rifled the sliotar past five Dunna’ men posted on the goal line.
That strike shook Dunnamaggin and sent Danesfort’s confidence soaring. It was, it later proved, a match-winner.
With both teams fighting for victory the game started in typically tight fashion. Both defences reigned in a tight first quarter, although Ken Moore (0-2) and Darren Fitzpatrick did trade some good points with Paddy (0-2) and Richie Hogan to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Click into gear
There wasn’t much in it at that stage - Dunna’ led by a point (0-5 to 0-4) - but Danesfort were about to click into gear.
Led by some strong fielding from Padraig Forristal, ’Fort strung five points together to help take control of the game. Paddy Hogan got the run going with a minor score from an acute angle, followed by a like score from long range from Forristal. The purple patch was capped by a Richie Hogan treble, the first coming from a searing solo which took him through the heart of the Dunna’s defence, along with two frees to leave Dunnamaggin staring at a four-point gap with the interval looming (0-9 to 0-5).
Raising their efforts they gamely responded. Darren Fitzpatrick boosted their hopes, soloing from right flank to left before driving a wicked shot just over the bar. Moore added another, converting a free in the final seconds of normal time to leave Dunnamaggin very much in the hunt (0-9 to 0-7).
The new half started in a closely fought manner, but kicked up a notch when Dunnamaggin were awarded a penalty after Peter Keneally was hauled back in the square on 41 minutes.
Drilled to net
Ken Moore took the responsibility and made it look easy, drilling the sliotar into the net of the scoreboard end goal.
Dunna’ didn’t have much time to enjoy their newfound lead (1-9 to 0-11) though. A needless foul gave Hogan the chance to level matters, the forward then pushing his side in front again as he raced away from Willie Phelan to split the posts.
Sensing their survival chances were slipping away, Dunnamaggin set about taking the game to their rivals. Another Moore free levelled the game for the seventh time, before Darren Fitzpatrick sent over a fine score from the right flank, pumping his fist to spur on his colleagues as the sliotar sailed over.
Good as he was from the dead ball, Moore showed his prowess from play soon after. He made a fine catch in midfield, fielding a David Herity clearance and turning it into a score from half-way as Dunna’ moved two clear (1-12 to 0-13).
That should have been the sign for Dunnamaggin to storm forward and secure the game, but it wasn’t to be. With Paul Murphy steadily imposing his influence on the game Danesfort shored up at the back and shut Dunna’ out. Hogan’s goal, with a pointed free either side of it, proved enough to give Danesfort the win - but not fourth place in the table.
SCORERS: Danesfort - Richie Hogan (1-10, 1-8 frees); Paddy Hogan (0-3, 0-1 free, 0-1 65); Philip Walsh, Padraig Forristal (0-1 each). Dunnamaggin - Ken Moore (1-6, 1-0 pen, 0-3 frees); Darren Fitzpatrick (0-3), Kieran Bergin (0-2), Canice Hickey (0-1, free).
Danesfort - F. Manogue, G. O’Keeffe, L. Forristal, M. Cunningham, T. Woodcock, P. Murphy, P. Walsh, P. Forristal, P. Hogan, J. Cunningham, D. Forristal, O. Daly, C. Treacy, R. Hogan, R. Walsh. Subs: S. Duncan for Treacy, 46 mins; B. O’Connor for Cunningham, 48 mins; C. O’Neill for D. Forristal, 55 mins.
Dunnamaggin - D. Herity, M. Dowling, N. Hickey, M. Heffernan, W. Phelan, C. Hickey, A. Donovan, A. Hickey, S. Connery, K. Bergin, K. Moore, D. Fitzpatrick, S. O’Neill, A. Kearney, P. Kenneally. Sub: P. Kirwan for O’Neill, 53 mins.
Referee - R. Byrne (Glenmore).