Kelly secures merited draw

Marshalstown-Castledockrell 3-14 Rathnure 3-14

Brendan Furlong

A Joe Kelly 70-metre point on 60 minutes gave Marshalstown-Castledockrell a dramatic late but deserved draw with Rathnure in this excellent Top Oil Intermediate 'A' hurling championship Group A game in St. Patrick's Park on Saturday.

While the hurling on occasions may have been far from perfect, the game was still full of excitement as both sides threw caution to the wind.

Both played an open, attacking brand of hurling that produced so many excellent scores, goalmouth excitement and a stirring final quarter recovery from the Marshalstown men when it appeared as if the game had slipped away from them, trailing by six points entering the closing 15 minutes.

Both sides set out their stall from the opening exchanges. The clashes were hectic, the hurling direct, and it took some desperate defending from both sides to keep them in the game.

Jason Lawlor pointed a Rathnure free inside two minutes, but then county Minor Diarmuid Doyle showed a real turn of speed, leaving several defenders for dead as he strode through for an excellent goal after five minutes to give his side a morale-boosting lead.

The Scaralwalsh outfit still led by 1-3 to 0-3 at the end of the opening quarter, but after Colm Bennett extended that advantage with a point from out on the sideline, Rathnure responded with three unanswered points through Jason Lawlor (two frees) and Fran Murphy.

That left the minimum (1-4 to 0-6) separating the sides after 22 minutes.

The crowd was continuing to be enthralled with the competitive nature of the hurling, coupled with excellent point-taking along with top-class defending.

And young Doyle once again stole the show two minutes before the break when his speed carried him through the defence for an excellent goal, a score that gave his side a 2-7 to 0-9 interval lead.

It was rearguard action from Marshalstown-Castledockrell on the resumption, particularly after Jason Lawlor fired 1-1 inside four minutes of the re-start to bring the sides level (1-10 to 2-7).

But the deadlock was shortlived as the opposition responded with a well-taken Colm Quigley goal after 37 minutes to restore their lead.

With both Ben Ronan and Jason Lawlor showing in the Rathnure attack along with the ball-carrying Billy Conran, Rathnure took the initiative through a Ronan goal.

And when Conran broke through the defence to finish to the net, Rathnure dramatically led by 3-14 to 3-8 at the end of the third quarter.

When it looked as if the scoreline was weighted against them, Marshalstown-Castledockrell began to strike back through points from Keith Brennan, Jack Quigley, Diarmuid Doyle and Eoin Bennett to leave the minimum separating the sides entering the tense closing minutes.

It was then that Joe Kelly stood tall to send over a dramatic levelling point and give his side a deserved draw.

Marshalstown-Castledockrell: Michael Kelly; Tom Bennett, Darragh Kehoe, Michael Hughes; David O'Connor, Jack Quigley (0-2), Mark Morris; Colm Bennett (0-1), Michael Morris (0-1); Adam Harte, Joe Kelly (0-2), Eoin Bennett (0-3, 1 free); Diarmuid Doyle (2-3, 0-2 frees), Colm Quigley (1-1), Mark Brennan. Subs. - Keith Brennan (0-1) for T. Bennett; Mark Kehoe for D. Kehoe, inj., Ken Doyle for Hughes, David Brennan for J. Quigley, inj.

Rathnure: Seán Nolan; Eoin Byrne, Teddy O'Connor, M.J. Murphy; Eoin Higgins, Seán O'Neill, Alan Ronan; Anthony Westnott, Thomas Furlong; Billy Conran (1-1), Fran Murphy (0-1), Michael Martin (0-1); Ben Ronan (1-2), Nigel Higgins (0-1), Jason Lawlor (1-8, 0-7 frees).

Referee: Joe Kelly (Naomh Eanna).

Wexford People