Luke Scanlon scored crucial goal
A touch of brilliance by Kilkenny panelist, Luke Scanlon, in the 44th minute when he won a great ball in the air before charging up the field to shoot a beautiful individual goal was crucial in the outcome of this senior hurling semi-final in Nowlan Park today.
Just before Scanlon’s goal, breeze backed Erin’s Own (Castlecomer) had drawn level at 0-10 to 1-7 after Michael Murphy crashed home a penalty.
The puck-out was won by Scanlon, who raced 35 metres through the opposing defence to score. The goal immediately swung the initiative back in ’Stephens favour.
There was nothing soft for the winners from there to the finish, but that quick response helped fortified The Village for a big finish. Victory put them into their first final since 2017.
The Village await the winners of the second semi between defending champions, Ballyhale Shamrocks and O’Loughlin Gaels, who play next weekend.
’Stephens opened well and scored four points before Erin’s Own opened their account through Declan Dunne in the 10th minute. The losers picked up things after that, and with their defence in top order and Michael Murphy leading the way up front, they got back and the teams were together at 0-6 each at the break.
The Village grabbed the opening three points of the new half through Eoin Guilfoyle, Tadgh O’Dwyer and Guilfoyle again to jump 0-9 to 0-6 ahead by the 34th minute.
Castlecomer bounced back with Michael Murphy shooting 1-1 (goal from a penalty) around a minor from Niall Mullins for The Village to leave it all square at 0-10 to 1-7.
Then came Scanlon’s goal. The next four scores were shared equally, but when ’Stephens had a pair of points together from David Walton and Conor Browne to leave them 1-14 to 1-9 clear with three minutes or normal time left they were as good as home.
In injury-time Michael Murphy scored a goal for Erin’s Own from a 20 metre free, but a 64th minute point from a free by David Walton wrapped up a huge win for James Stephens.
SCORERS: James Stephens - Eoin Guilfoyle (0-5); Luke Scanlon (1-1); Niall Brassil, Tadhg O’Dwyer, David Walton, Conor Browne (0-2 each); Niall Mullins (0-1). Erin’s Own - Michael Murphy (2-7); Shane Feehan, Declan Dunne (0-1 each).
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