In a relegated versus promoted tie in the intermediate hurling league, learning Thomastown faced seasoned Dunnamaggin.
The game in Hugginstown on Friday was entertaining, and good value for money. Thomastown were not the slightest overawed by the reputation of Dunnamaggin, and they showed scant regard for reputation, writes Barrie Henriques.
Dunnamaggin, remember, were relegated from the senior grade lasts season. They are working really hard to make a quick return to the top flight, and they showed in this nerve testing tie that they have the appetite and hurling know how to achieve a lot, if lucky doesn’t turn against them.
The losers were first on the scoreboard with two settling points from frees by Michael Donnelly. Midway through the half they were on the wrong side of a five points to four scoreline, but they were still in the game, still chasing, still believing.
This is a Thomastown team that has grown in confidence since the All-Ireland club success. The future can be bright, if they really believe.
The Dunnamaggan defence was holding strong, centred around the mighty Noel Hickey at full-back, and more impressively, Canice Hickey at centre-back. Canice was in top order. He turned in a man-of-the-match performance, give a display that was near perfect.
If teams are looking for a weakness in the Dunnamaggin defence, they had better go elsewhere than down the middle which is manned two two hugely experienced players, who can still cut it at the top level in club hurling.
In the 27th minute a Jonjo Farrell lob shot into the goal area saw James O’Hanrahan get to the ball before the goal and he directed it into an empty net.
That goal helped the All-Ireland junior club champions to the break just two points adrift. They would have been happy with that score at that stage, although it would have to be pointed out that Dunnamaggan had been dreadfully wasteful, shooting eight wides.
Still, the ’Town had plenty to be pleased about. Their body language was good.
Within minutes of the turn Thomastown were ahead thanks to two points from Michael Donnelly (free) and O’Hanrahan from play.
The Thomastown defenders were mounting a tough challenge to the aspirations of the Dunnamaggan attackers who were finding life increasingly difficult as few if any gaps were left to exploit.
Richard O’Hara grew in stature and performances as the game drove on. He was loving all of the challenges presented. Barry Whelan too was having a great time on the half back line, and Dylan Waugh, surprisingly sited at centre-back, improved as the game progressed.
O’Hara grabbed the lead in the 38th minute. They had Dunnamaggan rattled.
Midway through the half, Kenny Moore slammed home a tremendous goal for the winners from a penalty shot. It
knocked Thomastown for six, for a while. Dessie Walsh was trying every trick in his considerable repertoir to get
his lads back into the ring.
Tirelessly he grabbed, strode forward, and drove hard-earned possession forward. Dunnamaggan seemed to have weathered the storm, and by the 54 minute, they were ahead by 1-14 to 1-10.
A goal - no
Thomastown were awarded a 20-metre free. Donnelly stood over the ball, decided to go for the goal, and amid great excitement, his shot - in the opinions of many including this scribe - rattled the net.
One point separated the side... or so we thought.
But as events evolved, Donnelly’s shot had crashed into the side netting. Thomastown put in a barn-storming finish, bagging three points in the final four minutes, but Colin Herity with a free afforded Dunnamaggan a modicum of mental ease, as they gladly waited for the final whistle.
Scorers: Dunnamaggan - Kenny Moore (1-2, goal penalty); Colin Herity (0-4, frees); Peter Kenneally (0-3); William Phelan (0-3,
one free); Darren Fitzpatrick (0-2); Canice Hickey (0-1, free). Thomastown - Michael Donnelly (0-8, frees); James O’Hanrahan (1-1); Stuart Waugh (0-2); Dylan Waugh (0-1); Richard O’Hara (0-1).
Dunnamaggan - David Herity, Mark Dowling, Noel Hickey, Mark Heffernan, Aidan O’Donovan, Canice Hickey, Andrew Hickey, Willie Phelan, Darren Fitzpatrick, Colin Herity, Kenny Moore, Peter Kenneally, Paddy Delaney, Anthony Kearney, Kieran Bergin. Subs - Paul Kirwan for Anthony Kearney, Andrew Fitzpatrick for Paddy Delaney.
Thomastown - Dylan Walsh, Sean Mahoney, Barry Whelan, Richard O’Hara, Derek Lanigan, Dylan Waugh, Peter O’Hanrahan, Dessie Walsh, Brian Murphy, David Prendergast, Michael Donnelly, Thomas O’Hanrahan, Adrian Burke, Johnjo Farrell, James O’Hanrahan. Subs - Stuart Waugh for James O’Hanrahan, Darren Burke for David Prendergast.
Referee - Ray Byrne (Glenmore).