Dicksboro struck a goal mine and all in the space of three golden minutes they claimed a priceless cache that more or less decided this county final.
The winners, who were battling with 14 men at the time, plundered three goals between the 25th and 28th minutes to put a serious claim on the riches at stake in this under-21 Roinn A hurling championship final replay at Nowlan Park on Sunday.
All of a sudden they dashed from being leaders by a single point to being a commanding 3-6 to 0-4 clear, and their sixth title was almost within touching distance.
Thomastown, who rose from the dead with two late, late goals last week to force a dramatic draw, had no big punch to deliver this time and when they were hit for a fourth goal in the 37th minute it was all over bar the shouting.
“We knew last week that we blew a great chance to win, and the players weren’t going to make the same mistake twice,” insisted Dicksboro selector, Simon Walton.
There was one moment of silliness during the first half when a scuffle erupted. With the help of one of his linesmen, referee John Kennedy got the call spot on.
Robbie Donnelly (T) and Andrew Gaffney (D) ended up being booked. Within seconds the action roared up the left wing towards the country end goal, and young Gaffney committed a rash foul. The referee didn’t hesitate. A second yellow card, followed by a red, was flashed.
It was the 16th minute. And the ’Boro had already lost the experienced Robbie Fitzpatrick with a hamstring injury.
Thomastown had every reason to be happy with their lot at the time. They were playing against the fresh breeze. They were a mere 0-3 to 0-4 behind and they were hurling well.
In fact, they continued to play well enough against a team that was working fierce hard to make up for the lack of numbers. Points were exchanged by Eoin Fennelly, a very good effort made by the labours and quick thinking of class attacker, Robbie Murphy, and Adrian Burke, after taking a splendidly weighted forward pass from Eoin Manning, to leave the divide the same as the closing five minutes of the half were reached (0-5 to 0-4).
Crash! Bang! Wallop! It all fell asunder on Thomastown. Their defensive formation fell apart. Lady Luck turned her back on their goalie. In the 25th minute full-back, Evan Cody, made a strong drive out of the ’Boro defence that took him to midfield.
He launched a speculative drive forward. The ball ended up in the Thomastown net (1-5 to 0-4).
The physically stronger winners continued to drive forward. A delivery from Darragh Holohan was claimed by Robbie Murphy. From about 30 metres he got a clear run at goal before booting the ball into the net. It was the 26th minute.
The ’Town couldn’t halt the slide. A careless push in the back on the lively and very involved Kevin Kenny earned Darragh Holohan a handy enough point from a 20 metre free on the right at the city end.
From the resulting puck-out, the ’Town surrendered possession to Kenny, who raced 15 metres up the right wing. He lashed the ball into the top right hand corner of the net from 22 metres.
All of a sudden the divide was a yawning 3-6 to 0-4. An exchange of minors before the rest left the ’Town facing an 11 point deficit heading into the closing half. Things didn’t look good for them.
Thomastown opened smartly in the second half when John Donnelly landed an absolute peach of a point from a 30 metre sideline cut on the right. Five minutes on, after missing a handy enough chance from a free, the ’Boro pieced together a lovely move that finished the contest.
Evan Cody started the move from deep in his own half. The inventive Murphy took up the baton and supplied to Kevin Kenny, who put Darragh Holohan in the clear in front of the ’Town goal. The tall full-forward hung the ball up in the top right hand corner of the net.
Score: 4-7 to 0-6.
The losers put scores back-to-back through Robbie Donnelly and the lion hearted Adrian Burke, but even against a team that couldn’t buy a score from a placed ball in the absence of young Gaffney, they could make no progress. The fifth ’Boro arrived in the 42nd minute when a delicate piece of skill from Robbie Murphy ripped the opposing defence right open.
Corner-forward Conor Fitzpatrick was placed to dance around the ’keeper before planting the ball in the empty net (5-7 to 0-8).
This was a fair effort from the brave and true ’Boro 14, whose strong work ethic and edge in physical strength made a massive difference on a heavy pitch. They had heroes aplenty - Robbie Murphy, a smashing hurler; Aidan Nolan, Evan Cody, Eoin Gough, Kevin Kenny, Conor Fitzpatrick and James Gittens.
The goals knocked the stuffing out ’Town, but it didn’t break warriors like Whelan, O’Hanrahan, Adrian Burke or the Donnellys’, John or Robbie.
SCORERS: Dicksboro - Robbie Murphy (1-2); Darragh Holohan (1-2, points frees); Kevin Kenny, Conor Fitzpatrick (1-1 each); Evan Cody (1-0); Eoin Fennelly, Stephen Farrell (0-1 each); Aaron Duggan (0-1, free). Thomastown - Adrian Burke (0-3); Robbie Donnelly (0-3, one free); Michael Donnelly (0-2, one free); John Donnelly (0-2, one free).
Dicksboro - Aaron Duggan (capt), Aidan Nolan, Evan Cody, James Gittens, Jim Dollard, Eoin Gough, Rory Glynn, Robbie Fitzpatrick, Conor Doheny, Robbie Murphy, Eoin Fennelly, Andrew Gaffney, Conor Fitzpatrick, Darragh Holohan, Kevin Kenny. Subs - Stephen Farrell, Shane O’Brien, Bill Sheehan, Peter Turley.
Thomastown - Darragh McGarry, James Burke, Barry Whelan, Cian O’Mara, Johnny Barron, Roberty O’Hanrahan, Craig Butler, Eoin Manning (joint capt), Michael Donnelly, John Donnelly, Gary Lehane, Robbie Donnelly, Danny Monks, Adrian Burke, Thomas O’Hanrahan (joint capt). Subs - Bobby Joe Walsh, James Lanigan, Dylan Caulfield.
Referee - John Kennedy (Ballyhale Shamrocks).