Comeback in vain
Rathgarogue-Cushinstown survived a spirited late comeback by Duffry Rovers to come out two-point winners and take the Martin Cullen Cup home in Cushinstown on Sunday.
Rathgarogue-Cushinstown 1-9 Duffry Rovers 2-4
With the score at 1-9 to 0-3 with just ten minutes left, few would have predicted that the result would be such a close one. However, the eventual winners can have only their goalkeeper, Fionn Slattery, to thank that they were still in the game after the opening ten minutes.
On three occasions in the opening exchanges Slattery pulled off impressive saves to deny Gavin Watchorn, Cian Fitzhenry and Gearóid Doyle.
The opening score came in the sixth minute and it was Rathgarogue-Cushinstown's only major of the day. Eoin Porter picked up the ball in midfield and found Patrick Barron who slotted calmly past the onrushing Conor Coleman in goal.
From there, the sides exchanged points through Porter and Fitzhenry before the home side began to open up a lead. Five Porter points, including one resulting from numerous skilful exchanges between himself and Tadhg Cody, were answered by just two Duffry scores. The home side saw themselves in a six-point (1-6 to 0-3) lead at the interval.
The second-half started with momentum very much still in Rathgarogue-Cushinstown's court, and they added the first three points of the half. Two more came from the prolific Porter while Eric Cummins avenged an earlier mistake of blasting the post from just four yards out by adding his first.
The 37th minute brought about a red card for Rathgarogue-Cushinstown's Darragh Roche and with that the momentum shifted. In combatting the sending-off the home side opted to leave just one man in the full-forward line to ensure there was no mismatch of numbers in defence.
The disadvantage of this was that they now had no out ball and began to invite pressure onto themselves.
Initially it led to a Fitzhenry point and then two quick-fire Duffry goals.
Gearóid Doyle removed Slattery's air of invincibility by firing into the bottom corner before Fitzhenry palmed into the net from a Watchorn free two minutes later.
Despite their best efforts, a third, winning goal would not come for Duffry Rovers in the remaining five minutes and Rathgarogue-Cushinstown held on to claim the Martin Cullen Cup.
Rathgarogue-Cushinstown: Fionn Slattery; Shane O'Connor, Ricky McGrath; Liam Roche, Tadhg Cody, John O'Keeffe (capt.); Liam O'Shea, Eric Cummins (0-1), Jack Murphy, Eoin Porter (0-8, 4 frees), Patrick Barron (1-0); Rory Boland, Jack McGrath. Subs. (rolling) - Seán Kehoe, Shane Delaney, Darragh Roche, Evin Murphy, Kevin Roberts, Dylan Delaney, also Aodhán Slattery, Billy O'Neill.
Duffry Rovers: Conor Coleman; Jamie Roban, Eric Nolan; Seamus Doyle, Liam Pender, Alan Doyle; Michael O'Leary, John Dunne; Gavin Watchorn, Michael Doyle (capt.), Gearóid Doyle (1-0); Cian Fitzhenry (1-4, 0-3 frees), Colm Redmond. Subs. (rolling) - John Bates, John Neville, also Barry Redmond, Fionn O Muirí, Cathal Whelan, Marcus McCarthy, Nicholas Doyle.
Referee: Derek Murphy (St. Martin's).