High drama as Rathnure hold on to Senior status
Strong Shamrocks effort falls short
Rathnure maintained their long-standing status as a Senior club when they edged out Shamrocks after a nail-biting finish in front of a huge crowd in Oylegate in a tense Pettitt's hurling championship relegation final on Saturday.
Rathnure 1-15 Shamrocks 2-11
Rathnure definitely deserved their victory but things could so easily have turned sour for the former kingpins of Wexford hurling, with Shamrocks coming within a whisker of getting the late goal they desperately craved in a heart-stopping, frantic final few moments.
The men in black and amber looked to be cantering to victory, leading by 1-14 to 1-9 with six minutes remaining, but they almost allowed Shamrocks to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in that frenzied finish.
With the 60 minutes up a Bob Jacob free from just inside the '45 dropped straight into the net to bring the Enniscorthy side to within a point, and although Jack Guiney pointed at the other end to give Rathnure some breathing space, there was still plenty of drama to come.
Seconds later Shamrocks won a free 25 metres out and Bob Jacob's effort on goal was blocked on the line, with Anthony Wallace's follow up also diverted to safety as the game ended in a welter of excitement.
Then in the third additional minute Shamrocks centre-back Karl Cullen sent the sliothar goalwards but Rathnure goalkeeper Dermot Flynn got a stick to it and to the relief of the Rathnure faithful it dropped over rather than under the bar.
The opening half was a cagey affair with both sides shackled by the overbearing tension, with all but one of Shamrocks' points coming from Bob Jacob placed balls.
The Rathnure forwards were also finding it difficult to get on top of their men but their most productive member, Michael Redmond, did get the opening point from play in the fourth minute after Jack Guiney and Jacob had swapped frees.
Midfielder Aidan Redmond got a bloodied nose straight from the throw-in and had to wait in the wings for most of the first-half, but his replacement, Declan Foley, proved to be an able deputy, knocking over two fine points.
Jack Moorehouse struck a wonderful point in the 20th minute but his effort was matched by Jack Guiney three minutes later, when he showed his class to sidestep his marker and fire over the black spot.
A Bob Jacob free on 29 minutes put Shamrocks ahead for the first time but Rathnure ended the half on a high with Fran Murphy and Jack Guiney (free) giving them a 0-7 to 0-6 interval lead.
Whatever was said in the Rathnure dressing-room at half-time clearly worked as they began the second-half with far more conviction.
Aidan Redmond and Shane Lawlor tacked on points before Robbie Codd made a major breakthrough in the 36th minute.
Codd's effort on goal was twice saved by Shamrocks netminder Daithí Murphy but he kept his composure to eventually find the back of the net.
However, Shamrocks were back in it just three minutes later when a Bob Jacob sideline cut found its way to substitute Ronan Gahan and his 30-yard shot looped over Rathnure goalkeeper Dermot Flynn.
Rathnure then re-asserted their dominance, with the superb Michael Redmond adding four points in a ten-minute spell to help his side to a five-point advantage (1-14 to 1-9).
And they looked to be firmly in control with the clock running down with the energetic Paddy Whiteley driving his side forward with some inspirational catches and clearances.
When Bob Jacob knocked over his eighth point from a free in the 59th minute to make it 1-14 to 1-10 it looked to be a mere consolation score for Shamrocks, but there was plenty of drama to come in injury time before the outcome was decided.
Rathnure: Dermot Flynn; Chris Redmond, Brendan O'Leary, Mick O'Leary; Paddy Whiteley, Antony O'Connell, Pádraig Doyle; Aidan Redmond (0-1), Eoin Higgins; Shane Lawlor (0-1), Fran Murphy (0-1), Michael Redmond (0-5); Ciarán O'Connor, Jack Guiney (0-5, 2 frees), Robbie Codd (1-0). Subs. - Declan Foley (0-2) for A. Redmond, Aidan Redmond for O'Connor, Brian Quigley for O'Connell, Richie Flynn for Codd.
Shamrocks: Daithí Murphy; Barry Dobbs, Mick Weafer, Philip Freeman; Lar McDonald, Karl Cullen (0-1), Emmet Quirke; Bob Jacob (1-8, 1-7 frees, 0-1 line ball), George Jacob; Seán Wildes, Anthony Wallace, Jack Moorehouse (0-1), John O'Connor (0-1), Maurice Casey, Harry Goff. Subs. - Ronan Gahan (1-0) for McDonald, Cyril Thorpe for Casey, Jim Jacob for Wildes, Graham Denton for Moorehouse.
Referee: James Flood (St. Mary's, Maudlintown).