On days like this hurling can be such a sweet, sweet game

WHAT a baffling, thrilling game hurling can be when played with passion and pride dripping from every pore as was the case with these two fine teams in Nowlan Park on Sunday.

WHAT a baffling, thrilling game hurling can be when played with passion and pride dripping from every pore as was the case with these two fine teams in Nowlan Park on Sunday.

All in the space of the closing five minute both sides could have won, or lost, as fans were dragged on a roller-coaster ride right down to the wire.

In the end Carrickshock, who had been in front four minutes from the finish, were saved by a blinding point from a free by county star, Richie Power, from a distance that was little short of 100 metres.

It was a tremendous strike, even if breeze assisted, and a fitting one to draw a quality senior hurling championship quarter-final clash that was tense and close all the way. Now the teams must square up to each other again this weekend.Whoopee!

Afterwards there was a hint of disappointment in the ’Shock camp as they wondered had they blown a great chance to down the championship favourites. Perhaps!

Shamrocks were more matter of fact. They were happy to be still alive; still in with a chance of winning the title.

These neighbours and great rivals have huge respect for each other, and while the game produced a considerable 36 scores, it couldn’t be classed as a wide open contest. Far from it!

They closed down each other at every turn, but with deadly finishing free takers – Henry Shefflin (11) and Richie Power (7) – virtually every foul carried a cost.

Might have goaled

It was a step-for-step march virtually all the way. Early on Henry Shefflin and Richie Power traded points from frees. In between the ’Shock might have goaled but John Tennyson – how wonderful it was to see him back, even if it was at top of the right – failed to connect on a cross from the left by Michael Rohan with the target only a few metres right in front of him.

The same Tennyson was central to the action again in the 10th minute when he was held in the square and Carrickshock were awarded a penalty. John Power smashed a blur of a shot into the bottom left corner of the net at the city end.

A tug on Michael Rice’s shirt earned a free for the team and point for Richie Power as the ’Shock opened out a 1-2 to 0-2 lead by the 13th minute. The Shamrocks powered back.

A foul on James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick was turned into a point by Shefflin before ‘Cha’ took a lovely low pass from Shefflin and sent the white flying (1-2 to 0-4).

Come the 18th minute and fans enjoyed one of the high points of the opening period. Richie Power gathered a ball on his own ‘50’, galloped perhaps another 50 metres and more, before laying on a point scoring opportunity for Michael Rohan. This was hurling of the highest order.

Not to be out-done, Shamrocks roared back. Two points within 90 seconds from Shefflin, the first after a crash tackle on Eoin Reid, the second for a foul on T.J. Reid, squared the match at 1-3 to 0-6.

Carrickshock went two points to the good during the minutes that followed, but again they were called back by Shefflin. In fact, he did better than that by shooting a smartly taken 20-metre free to the net in the 26th minute.

That pushed the ’Shock into arrears for the first time (1-5 to 1-6) and the difference was doubled when Eoin Reid added a small contribution.

Out and ready

Carrickshock finished the half well, and back-to-back scores from Richie Power (free) following a foul on his brother, John, and Mark O’Dwyer, who was in receipt of a mighty delivery from the same John, left it all square at 1-7 each at half-way.

The Shamrocks were out and ready for action on time in the new half, but the opposition, who, it would appear were deep in rev up mood, had to be called from the dressing-room by an umpire. For all that, it was Shamrocks who enjoyed the better start to the half, slipping points from Shefflin and T.J. Reid in front.

In the 36th minute the action received a real blast of power when Carrickshock scored a lovely goal. Michael Rice drove in a ball from near midfield. Richie Power batted it down to Michael Rohan on the right, and the latter fired a fierce shot into the bottom corner of the net (2-7 to 1-9).

Within 30 seconds Shefflin levelled. The tone of the match was set in stone, it appeared. On three more occasions before the end of the quarter parity was shared, with both sides having their time in front.

The fourth leveller of the half left the scores at 2-10 to 1-13 in the 46th minute. We weren’t to know it at the time, but things were only warming up.

Shamrocks hit the front again when Shefflin converted following a foul on T.J. Reid. But moments later they paid a heavy price for allowing untidy play develop in front of their goal when John Power slammed a powerful drive to the net from eight metres after his Richie had an effort blocked out (3-10 to 1-14).

When the same scorer threw over a point for good measure, it left the ’Shock looking and playing well, as well as they had all afternoon.

The Shamrocks, as we known, don’t do panic. They simply played their way out of trouble. A brace of points from David Hoyne and Shefflin, against one reply from Richie Power, left a like difference (3-12 to 1-16).

By now the clock was showing 58 minutes. ‘The Houdini’ men that can be Shamrocks produced it again…..a big score against the odds. Colin Fennelly, who had been relatively quiet up to this, did his best work of the afternoon when skinning two defenders on the right inside the 20-metre line before rifling a shot to the net.

Advantage for 40 seconds

Shamrocks were back in front – 2-16 to 3-12.

The advantage lasted a mere 40 seconds. Richie Power punished a foul on Mark O’Dwyer by pointing a free from 25 metres.

The hour mark was reached without another contribution from either side. Then, 30 seconds beyond time, T.J. Reid snapped up a ball from a throw-in, tossed it out to his brother Eoin and over the bar it sailed.

On the play rolled. It hit 32.24 on the stopwatch when Richie Power stepped up to the last free. It was a golden strike for him, and a saving one for his team.

Two fine teams must go at it again this weekend. Don’t miss it. Great talent will be on show. Satisfaction virtually guaranteed!

Shamrocks – Richie Reid, Paul Shefflin, Aidan Cummins, Ger Fennelly, Joseph Holden, Eamon Walsh, Alan Cuddihy, James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick, Michael Fennelly, Eoin Reid, Henry Shefflin, T.J. Reid, Mark Aylward, Colin Fennelly, David Hoyne. Sub – Conor Walsh.

Carrickshock – Patrick Farrell, Niall Tennyson, John Dalton, David Franks, Darren O’Dwyer, John Murphy, Luke Gaule, Jamie Power, Shane Power, Michael Rice, Richie Power, John Power, John Tennyson, Mark O’Dwyer, Michael Rohan. Sub – William Hoyne.

Referee – Gavin Quilty (Slieverue).