A strong, uninterrupted run of five points between the 40th and 48th minutes proved crucial when James Stephens powered to a good win in the North under-21 Roinn A hurling championship final in Páirc Lachtain today.
That serious blast of scores from the ever dangerous Tadhg Dwyer, Luke Scanlon, Johnny McEvoy, Niall Brassil and goalie Gavin Costigan, who pointed a free from 66 metres, left city rivals Dicksboro trailing by 1-9 to 1-14 and put The Village in a very strong position with the wind in their backs.
The losers chased hard afterwards, and when Oisin Gough pointed a free on 59 minutes there was a single big score between the teams.
However, James Stephens held out for what will be the last win in the Northern championship. With the divisional boards done away with now, from next year on the under-21 competition will be run on an all county basis.
There was little between the teams early on, with the opening six scores shared equally. Dicksboro suffered a huge blow when Andrew Gaffney, the star of last week's win over Tullaroan, was helped off the field injured in the ninth minute.
The 'Boro landed the lead point from a free by Oisin Gough and they headed away, but a 23rd minute goal from Tadhg O'Dwyer turned the tables and edged 'Stephens 1-5 to 0-7 in front.
The losers got back level with a score from the ever dangerous Bill Sheehan, and at half-time it was still level, this time at 1-6 to 0-9.
There was more steel in 'Stephens hurling after the turn, and with Conor Browne, Luke Scanlon, O'Dwyer, Niall Brassil and Conor Byrne turning in star games they looked set to drive clear when they tacked on three points without reply.
The 'Boro pulled them back with an opportunist goal from Bill Sheehan, but James Stephens strong response came in the shape of five unanswered points which pushed them up the path to victoy.
SCORERS; James Stephens - Tadhg O'Dwyer (1-7); Gavin Costigan (0-4, frees); Niall Brassil (0-2); Luke Scanlon, Ross Whelan, Johnny McEvoy (0-1 each). Dicksboro - Oisin Gough (0-7); Bill Sheehan (1-2); Conor Doheny, Tom Kenny, Robbie Murphy, Sean Boys (0-1 each).
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