Murphy's magic crucial
All-county hurling league semi-finals
Crossabeg-Ballymurn thought they had lost this game but ended up coming out on top after extra-time in an eventful All-County Hurling League Division 2 semi-final in a blustery Ballymurn on Saturday.
C'beg-B'murn 3-22 Askamore 2-20 (AET)
Confusion reigned as referee Barry Redmond sounded the final whistle, indicating that Askamore had won by a point, but after a few moments he realised he made a miscalculation with the score actually standing at 2-16 apiece, meaning extra-time was needed to separate the sides.
Corner-forward Niall Murphy gave a stellar showing for the eventual winners, scoring 2-12, and his goals came at pivotal moments, the opener in the first added minute at the end of regulation time and the second near the close of extra-time to kill off the contest.
Askamore started brightly with Ted Kinsella stroking over a couple of frees either side of a Gavin Sunderland point, but Niall Murphy and Barry Murphy quickly found their range for the hosts, firing over points from acute angles.
Barry Murphy made the first major breakthrough for Crossabeg-Ballymurn, hitting the back of the net in the 12th minute to make it 1-4 to 0-4, and they stretched their lead to eight points with Niall Murphy (four), Bill Eviston and Eoin McDonald splitting the posts.
However, Askamore finished the half strongly with Frank Boggan to the fore, the full-forward striking to the net on 24 minutes after hesitancy in the Crossabeg-Ballymurn defence, and he repeated the trick on the stroke of half-time, firing in another goal after tenacious work from Shane Tomkins, to leave his side trailing by three at the break (1-11 to 2-5).
The Gorey District side clawed their way back on level terms by the 48th minute (1-14 to 2-11) with Shane Tomkins stamping his authority on the game with two points and Patrick Nolan also fired over a mammoth score from distance, while Billy Roche replied with an inspirational point for Crossabeg-Ballymurn.
Three frees from the reliable Ted Kinsella and a great point on the run from Shane Tomkins looked to have put Askamore firmly in control but Niall Murphy had other ideas, registering 1-2 in injury-time to nose his side ahead before a point from substitute Edmund Kenny sent the enthralling contest into extra-time.
Askamore got the next couple of points on the board through Edmund Kenny and a Ted Kinsella free but they couldn't shake off their dogged opponents and a tremendous long-distance free from Pádraig Foley had the hosts a point in front (2-20 to 2-19) as the sides switched ends.
It was the Niall Murphy show for the final ten minutes as the impressive forward added 1-2 to the Crossabeg-Ballymurn tally and secured a spot in Sunday's decider, while Askamore's brave effort petered out.
Crossabeg-Ballymurn: Mark Dempsey; Matty Sludds, Billy Roche (0-1), Martin Redmond; Cormac O'Rourke, Pádraig Foley (0-1), Paddy Devereux; Conor Devereux (0-1), Bill Eviston (0-1); Barry Murphy (1-2), Eoin McDonald (0-1), Oisín Foley (0-2), David Jackman (0-1), Andy Butler, Niall Murphy (2-12, 0-7 frees). Subs. - Alan Byrne for Eviston (temp.), Byrne for B. Murphy, Liam Kehoe for Butler.
Askamore: Brian Hayden; David Travers, Frank Lancaster, Patrick Nolan (0-1); Conor Levingstone (0-1), Tommy Devereux, Colm Buttle; P.J. Nolan (0-1), Garry Doran; Ted Kinsella (0-8 frees), Gavin Sunderland (0-2), Shane Tomkins (0-3); Thomas Byrne, Frank Boggan (2-2), Pádraig Byrne. Sub. - Edmund Kenny (0-2) for P. Byrne.
Referee: Barry Redmond (Clonard).