THE Fenians (Johnstown) dug themselves out of a deep hole to claim the points in a thrilling senior hurling league tie at Pairc Lactain on Saturday.
A game that started slowly, with Paddy and Richie Hogan dictating matters for Danesfort, ended in a welter of excitement as Fenians wiped out an 11 point deficit in the final 25 minutes to grab a famous victory.
The opening stages were competitive with the Hogan brothers hitting two points each. Johnstown with like scores from Kevin Power, but that still left them two down at the end of the opening quarter (0-4 to 0-2). Power then reduced the arrears with a pointed free before Paul Quinlan fired over a cracking point from a tight angle out on the right wing in the 16th minute.
That left the sides tied at 0-4 each. Fenians were beginning to get a grip on the game, but that all changed in the 18th minute when ’Fort were awarded a free 30 metres from goal. Paddy Hogan stepped up and drilled the sliotar to Fenians net, halting the Johnstown momentum.
Power reduced the deficit once more when he pointed a 21st minute free, but Paddy Hogan restored Danesfort’s goal lead with a point from play. Paddy Hogan then landed a massive free from about 110 metres as Danesfort stepped up the pace of the game. Power (free) pulled one back for the Johnstown men but further points from Richie (free) and Paddy Hogan pushed Danesfort five points clear at the break (Danesfort 1-8, Fenians 0-6).
Danesfort began the second half as they finished the first, helping themselves to points from Oisin Daly and Paddy Hogan (free) to increase their lead to seven by the 33rd minute.
At this stage they were flying, but their day got even better when, 60 seconds later, Oisin Daly reacted fastest to fire home past a helpless P.J. Ryan after Paddy Hogan’s shot came back off an upright.
Robbie Walsh rubbed salt into Fenian wounds when he added a point to leave Danesfort 11 points clear in the 35th minute and seemingly on their way to a comfortable win (2-11 to 0-6).
However, Danesfort failed to score for another 21 minutes. Instead, it was the Fenians who fought their way back into a game that seemed beyond them. They knocked over a succession of points through Kevin Power, Kieran Grehan and Willie Brennan to shake Danesfort’s confidence - when Power drilled a 20-metre free to the Danesfort net after 43 minutes it was game on once again.
The excitement levels grew as points from P.J. Delaney and Kieran Grehan (2) left just a brace between the sides with five minute remaining (2-11 to 1-13). Richie Hogan gave Danesfort some breathing space when he pointed a 50-metre free in the 56th minute, but the Fenians smelled blood and went all out for victory.
The incredible finale began when Kevin Power pointed a free, followed by a point from P.J. Delaney to level it all up in the 59th minute.
Plenty of players were looking for the winner, but one man found it. Straight from the puck-out, P.J. Delaney won possession on his own half-back line and fired over the winning point.
SCORERS: Fenians - Kevin Power (1-8, frees) P.J Delaney, Kieran Grehan (0-3 each); Willie Brennan, Paul Quinlan (0-1 each). Danesfort - Paddy Hogan (1-6, 1-4 frees); Oisin Daly (1-1); Richie Hogan (0-4, 0-2 frees); Robbie Walsh (0-1).
Fenians - P.J. Ryan, C. Ryan, J.P. Grehan, E. Phelan, J. Henderson, J.J. Delaney, C. Tobin, D. Garrett, C. Behan, E. Sheil, P.J. Delaney, P. Quinlan, W. Brennan, K. Power, K. Grehan. Subs: S. Brennan for Behan, J. Ryan for Sheil.
Danesfort - F. Manogue, G. O’Keeffe, L. Forristal, M. Cunningham, T. Woodcock, P. Murphy, P. Walsh, O. Daly, P. Hogan, P. Forristal, R. Walsh, J. Cunningham, C. O’Neill, D. Forristal, R. Hogan.
Referee - John Guinan (St Lachtain’s).