ONE of the best moves of the match, which defined perfectly the pace and creativity of a throbbing game, ended with a thrilling goal that proved the clincher.
Fenians (Johnstown) knew that when Darragh Tobin slipped the ball into the Graigue-Ballycallan net in the 48th minute to push them 1-15 to 0-11 clear they were home and dry in what was perhaps the most exciting senior hurling league tie of a busy weekend.
The inventive move was started on the right wing at the Threecastles end by John Broderick. His inch perfect, 20-metre cross found the upraised hand of Tobin, who spun his way past two defenders before applying a confident finish.
A very good point from midfield followed from Willie Brennan and another good long range one from John Henderson was followed again by a Graigue goal from a free by Eddie Brennan. However, Tobin and his score defined and decided the tie.
From start to finish the pace was hectic; the skill level good and the commitment all round beyond question. Freshford won’t host many better tussles. Graigue possibly blew their chance of victory when wind assisted during the first half when they ran up a hugely disappointing 11 wides.
In doing so they allowed themselves to be held level at 0-6 each at the break. That sort of position was promised from the start, because right along the way the scores were tied, at 0-1, 0-2, 0-3, 0-4 and 0-5 each.
The darting Eddie Brennan and Robert Murphy ran midfield for the losers. Ciaran Hoyne was magnificent behind them at centre-back, while Darragh Walton threatened danger any time the ball arrived in his space.
The Fenians did well to get level, seeing that they relied on Conor Tobin for five of their first half scores. The other one was landed by Kieran Grehan, a midfielder.
The winners were in a different mood from the restart. Within a jiffy Conor Tobin flashed over three points, one a free and a second one a booted effort with the goal open in front of him. For good measure Darragh Tobin threw in a point to edge them 0-10 to 0-6 clear.
Swing to Fenians
Graigue needed a score. Eddie Brennan produced a point in the 36th minute to get them going. Five minutes later they were back level, 0-10 each, after scores from Gerard Teehan, Niall Millea and William O’Connor.
The game swung Fenians way again after Conor Tobin stopped the Graigue advance by landing a point from a free. Kevin Power and Conor Tobin (free) made contributions in double quick time as the Fenians wrestled back control.
On they drove. A brace of minors from Conor Tobin, his 10th score of the game, and a beauty from Willie Brennan left Graigue hanging on (0-15 to 0-10). Robert Murphy delayed the inevitable when he pointed, but then up popped Darragh Tobin the goal that decided all.
This was a cracking performance for the winners, who had plenty of heroes, especially J.J. Delaney and the all action John Henderson, Darragh and Conor Tobin, Willie Brennan and Cathal Ryan.
Scorers: Fenians – Conor Tobin (0-11, seven frees); Darragh Tobin (1-1); Willie Brennan (0-2); John Henderson, Kieran Grehan, Kevin Power (0-1 each). Graigue-Ballycallan – Eddie Brennan (1-2, goal free); Darragh Walton (0-3); Robert Murphy (0-2); Niall Millea (0-1, free); William O’Connor, Gerard Teehan, Dermot Heafey (0-1 each).
Fenians – P.J. Ryan, Declan Garrett, J.P. Grehan, Eoin Phelan, Rory Phelan, J.J. Delaney, John Henderson, Kieran Grehan, Cathal Ryan, Conor Tobin, Darragh Tobin, John Broderick, Willie Brennan, Kevin Power, Danny Dermody. Sub – Jason Ryan.
Graigue-Ballycallan – P.J. Trant, Darragh Egan, James Ryall, Shane Murphy, Gerard Teehan, Ciaran Hoyne, Dermot Ryall, Adrian Burke, Robert Murphy, Eddie Brennan, Niall Millea, Dermot Heafey, Willie O’Connor, Darragh Walton, Thomas Ryan. Subs – Jimmy Murphy, Vinny Teehan, John Cleere.
Referee – Paddy Neary (James Stephens).