In AN over statement of the obvious, it is quite inconceivable to see how any team that fails to register a score during the first half of a game could expect to win. As an addendum to that, it is unthinkable that any team who registers a mere three points from play in 65 minutes can harbour any hope of winning.
So it was for junior champions, John Lockes (Callan) in Palmerstown on Sunday when they failed in their quest for further advancement in the intermediate hurling championship against a far more focussed and courageous Danesfort team, who played to the limits of their abilities and courage.
True, some could point to the fact that the conditions were truly appalling, and there are John Lockes supporters who might advance that argument. But the same conditions were prevalent wherever Danesfort players plied their skills.
In truth, it would have to be said that the Callan defenders were stoic in their efforts to prevent the ’Fort from gaining a big lead. In fact, the winners had but three points on the ’board as the game ticked into the closing five minutes of the first half.
The likes of Paul Morrissey, Mick Roche, the superb Michael Gordon and the equally brilliant Michael Hartley, plus James Power, Jason Corcoran and John O’Neill battled exceptionally hard, and with great composure to keep the storm-assisted Danesfort limited to three points up to the 28th minute.
The John Lockes mentors would have been delirious with excitement as their charges hurled with fire, dedication and most importantly, with great discipline. To add to their delirium, the Danesfort lads were driving many shots wide of Morrissey’s posts.
It didn’t really matter at that stage that two easy goal chances, and a couple of points were wasted through dreadfully poor option taking by some of the forwards.
However, an explosion of indiscipline in defence allowed easy frees to be conceded inside the last few minutes of the first half, which all but cooked the John Lockes goose. From being just three points in front at the 28th minute, Danesfort went in at the break 0-7 to no score in front, a statistic that is difficult to comprehend.
Given that the first half was a nightmare for the Callan supporters, the second half was nearly more so. The Danesfort defenders, brilliantly marshalled by Paddy Hogan, Ciaran Treacy and a deep defending Paul Murphy were giants of men as they hammered back the Callan assaults.
Two more goal chances for the Callan lads were scorned by nervous forwards, and even some outfield effort looked suspect.
Whiff of victory
Danesfort got a whiff of a possible victory, and they did not hesitate in going for the jugular. Murphy came out of defence ball in hand. Hogan too stepped forward with ball at every opportunity.
Gordon, both Corcorans’ (Jason and Jacko) and Mick Hartley never flinched, but neither did the likes of Robbie Walsh, Cillian Treacy nor Richie Hogan, although he was well marshalled by the many John Lockes defenders who got near him.
Gavin O’Keeffe, Richie Hogan and David Forristall grabbed the first three Danesfort points by the 11th minute. They were not to score again for 17 minutes. With the storm, that would be a damning statistic.
But more importantly for Danesfort, neither were the John Lockes lads able to raise any kind of a flag in the same time frame.
To their credit, Danesfort fought the battle that was needed to get over the line in front at the finish of the race. That is the only time when the scoreboard is important.
It took a lot of courage to do what they did, and they had that quality in spades.
Scorers: Danesfort - Robbie Walsh (0-3); Richie Hogan (0-3, frees); Paul Murphy, Gavin O’Keeffe, Stephen Duncan, David Forristall (0-1 each); Paddy Hogan (0-1, free). John Lockes - Simon Burke (0-3, two frees); Matthew Holohan, Shane Bergin (0-1 each); Jason Corcoran (0-1, free).
Danesfort - Frank Manogue, Philip Walsh, Ciaran Treacy, Mick Cunningham, Tony Woodcock, Paddy Hogan, Gavin O’Keeffe, Paul Murphy, Martin McMahon, Robbie Walsh, Stephen Duncan, Oisin Daly, Cillian Treacy, David Forristall, Richie Hogan. Subs - Darren Booth, Padraig Forristall, Ben O’Connor.
John Lockes - Paul Morrissey, Mick Gordon, Mick Roche, James Power, Jason Corcoran, John O’Neill, Mick Hartley, Owen McGrath, JP. Corcoran, Jack McDowell, Matthew Holohan, Paddy Kennedy, Simon Burke, Shane Bergin, Ger Shelly. Subs - Cathal Byrne, Niall Hennessy.
Referee - Eamonn Mansfield (Moneenroe).