Late O'Neill goal fires Rovers into semi-final
An injury-time goal from substitute Alan O'Neill earned a dramatic victory for Duffry Rovers in this Top Oil Intermediate 'A' hurling championship quarter-final in Bellefield on Saturday.
Duffry Rovers 1-15 Liam Mellows 1-12
Liam Mellows had fought back from five points down to level matters with a last minute Stephen O'Rafferty free, but the Duffry men had one last surge.
Robert Frayne took aim for the posts from wide on the right, with his effort at a point dropping short, but the inrushing O'Neill got the slightest of touches to force the ball over the line.
The frenetic finish wasn't in keeping with the 60 minutes that preceded it as both teams found it difficult to ignite any real swagger.
However, Duffry Rovers looked to be doing enough to out-point their rivals when leading 0-14 to 0-9 with 49 minutes on the clock.
Liam Mellows dug deep though and a fortuitous 56th minute goal from Gavin Stamp put them right back in the contest and when O'Rafferty slotted over a late free extra-time looked on the cards.
The Gorey District side began quite brightly and held a 0-5 to 0-3 advantage after ten minutes, with Conor Carty helping himself to a couple of points, and Andy Merrigan, Brendan Halpin and Aaron Condren adding one apiece.
Duffry Rovers gained the upper hand though and built up a 0-10 to 0-6 lead at the break with Jason Rackard contributing seven points, with Liam Pender (two) and Eamonn Doyle adding to the tally.
The Enniscorthy District outfit looked to be comfortably holding their opponents at arm's length, as Liam Mellows struggled to make any inroads into the lead.
The scoreboard read 0-14 to 0-9 with 11 minutes remaining, with Jason Rackard popping over three placed balls and Liam Pender splitting the posts, and Aaron Condren and Stephen O'Rafferty responding.
Points from Andy Merrigan and O'Raffery put Liam Mellows back within striking distance but a 55th minute Jason Rackard free gave the Duffry men that bit of breathing space that a four-point lead affords.
However, Liam Mellows got the lifeline they needed when Gavin Stamp's attempt at a point dropped short and found its way to the net, and when Stephen O'Rafferty was handed the chance to level matters with a minute of normal time remaining, he made no mistake.
Unfortunately for Liam Mellows there was a real sting in the tail, with O'Neill ghosting in to steer the ball to the net and their protestations of a square ball infringement fell on deaf ears.
Duffry Rovers: Stephen Watchorn; Craig Casey, Paul Nolan, James Nolan; James Codd, Johnny Flynn-O'Connor, Mattie O'Connor; Aidan Byrne, Robert Frayne; Jason Rackard (0-11, 8 frees, 2 '65s), Eamonn Doyle (0-1), Donie O'Connor; Liam Pender (0-3), Joe Coleman, Gavin Watchorn. Subs. - Alan O'Neill (1-0) for G. Watchorn.
Liam Mellows: Seán Roche; Stephen Moloney, Conor Cleary, Joe Gardiner; Colin Kennedy, Danny Gardiner, Andy Merrigan (0-2); Aaron Condren (0-2), Risteard Kinsella; Yusuf Frih, Jody O'Shaughnessy, Richard Farrell; Brendan Halpin (0-1), Conor Carty (0-2), Stephen O'Rafferty (0-5, 4 frees, 1 '65). Subs. - Mark Halpin for Gardiner, Gavin Stamp (1-0) for O'Shaughnessy.
Referee: Pádraig Byrne (Ballyfad).