Second chance Saturday smiled on Young Irelands, who showed a solid last quarter performance to dodge the pitfalls of relegation.
Let off the hook thanks to two late goals last week the Gowran men made full use of their second bite at the cherry, consigning Mooncoin to the junior hurling ranks for 2014.
A week after saving their skins with two last gasp goals, scores which helped erase Mooncoin’s six-point cushion, Young Irelands were back in Ballyhale.
Determined to hold on to their intermediate status they did just that, grinding out a solid performance in the last quarter that saw them race away from their rivals.
“We’re delighted to have won that game,” was the verdict of a beaming Gowran boss D.J. Carey. “We were very fortunate last week, getting those late goals but you have to battle to the bitter end.
“These types of games are battles,” he admitted. “If you were in a county final there’d probably have been twice as many scores, but there was more tension there.
“There’s an awful lot at stake,” he said, regarding the pressure on both teams to win. “If you go out and lose a county final, well you can always come back the next year. In a relegation match like this, lose and you’re going down a grade.”
Once they opened up in the last quarter there never seemed to be a danger of Gowran slipping to defeat. Crucially, they rattled off four points in five and a half minutes, a burst which wasn’t matched by Mooncoin.
Paul Holden set the Gowran charge in motion with a free, followed closely by Dick Carroll’s point after a lengthy clearance from Niall Walsh.
Two points clear (1-7 to 0-8) at that stage, Young Irelands kept pushing forward. A careless free conceded by Ray Wall allowed Holden to tack on another placed score, with sub Tom Carroll adding another from out on the right flank.
That made it four points on the trot for the winners, a run which took the wind right out of Mooncoin’s sails.
It hadn’t always been that way, as Mooncoin made the faster start. Ray Wall (free) got them up and running in the early stages, but they were thankful to the defensive strength of captain Niall Mackey, who made a vital block to stop Dick Carroll from rattling the net with a point-blank shot on four minutes.
The damage of the save rebounded doubly on Young Irelands, as the resulting clearance was transformed into a point by Stephen Crowley, but they couldn’t build on the momentum provided by that save.
Instead, it was Young Irelands who took charge. After they shot several wides Paul Holden got his side off the mark with an 11th minute free. It was closely followed by a Paul Kehoe point before an 18th minute goalmouth scramble was knocked home by a candystriped player - Ollie Carter got the nod as being the man who added the final touch in a packed square.
Mooncoin seemed to shrug off the concession of that goal in the right manner, as they hit back with three points in a row.
Minor scores from Ray Wall (free), Jamie McGrath and a long range effort from Michael Grace took the sting out of Gowran’s three-pointer and levelled the match, but Paul Kehoe edged his side in front again when he broke down Michael Walsh’s booming clearance and split the scoreboard end posts for the last time in the opening half (1-3 to 0-5).
Mooncoin were the sharper outfit in the early stages of the new half, largely thanks to the accuracy of Ray Wall. Two frees pushed his side in front again, but parity was restored when Sean Kehoe turned a breaking ball into a 37th minute point for Gowran.
’Irelands pressed on, taking the lead once again through the influential Paul Kehoe, but again Wall responded for Mooncoin. However, that 41st minute free - his fifth of the afternoon- proved to be their last score of the game.
While both sides racked up the wides - each team hit 13 in all - Young Irelands managed to yield the precious scores that pushed them to safety.
Crucially, they didn’t let up. Mindful of how they had reeled in their rivals a week earlier the Gowran men kept their foot on the gas until they were assured of their safety.
Spurred on by a strong defence, Gowran kept the shackles on Mooncoin. They continued to pick off points when possible, adding late scores from Dick Carroll and sub Johnny Dunphy to push their side even further ahead.
That left the gap at six points but, unlike last week, there was no chance of Mooncoin repeating Gowran’s heroics.
It was that fighting spirit which pleased Carey the most, especially in what has been a year of close results.
“We lost to the Emeralds by a point in the first round of the championship,” he said. “With a few minutes to go we were a point up but lost the game. Now they are in a county final with a realistic chance of winning it - the margins at this level are that tight.
“It didn’t look good for us the last time out, but you just can’t give up because you just don’t know what’s going to happen,” Carey added.
“We didn’t give up, but that’s what we’ve been telling the players all along - if we’re losing by 10, then keep going and lose by nine; if we’re winning by 10 points we want them to win by 11. That’s what we try and do.
“The first game was a battle but we kept going,” he finished. “Thankfully we got the result second time round.”
SCORERS: Young Irelands - Ollie Carter (1-0); Paul Holden (0-3, frees); Paul Kehoe (0-3); Dick Carroll (0-2); Sean Kehoe, Tom Carroll, Johnny Dunphy (0-1 each). Mooncoin - Ray Wall (0-5, frees); Stephen Crowley, Danny Purcell, Michael Grace (0-1 each).
Young Irelands - Martin Carey, Martin Carter, Michael Walsh, Ciaran Carroll, J.P. Treacy, Emmet Byrne, J.J. Lennon, Niall Walsh, Michael Lennon, Ollie Carter, Jodie Foley, Sean Kehoe, Dick Carroll, Paul Kehoe, Paul Holden. Subs: Tom Carroll for Foley, 40 mins; Johnny Dunphy for P. Kehoe, 60 mins.
Mooncoin - Paddy Kinsella, Eoin Crowley, Niall Mackey, Liam Henebry, Seamus Kearns, Cormac Daly, Sean Wall, Ray Wall, Eoin Henebry, Michael Grace, Jamie McGrath, Keith Kirwan, Diarmuid Mackey, Danny Purcell, Stephen Crowley.
Referee - Peter Burke (Emeralds).