Nolan wins it for the Half Way
All-county hurling league semi-final
Aidan Nolan proved the match-winner in dramatic style for Half Way House-Bunclody in this entertaining All-County Hurling League Division 2 semi-final at Oulart on Sunday.
HWH-Bunclody 1-19 Oulart-The Ballagh 2-15
The county man grabbed the limelight thanks to a 21-yard free from a tight angle two minutes into injury time, as his side trailed by two points.
Truth told, it wasn't the greatest strike he'll ever take and it seemed to be heading wide at the near post, but one of the five Oulart-The Ballagh men on the line put his stick up to it and deflected the ball into his own net, giving victory to the visitors.
It capped a fine second-half for Nolan, whose performance in that period kept his team in the game and saw them haul back what was a five-point deficit at one stage (2-11 to 0-12 after 37 minutes), after they had actually led by one at half-time (0-12 to 1-8).
A Cormac Finn goal in the first minute of the second-half had been the impetus for that turnaround in favour of Oulart-The Ballagh, and it was followed up by points from Martin Og Storey, Murtha Doyle and Tomás Dunne to make that five-point advantage.
Bunclody replied with three in a row through John Paul Connors and Aidan Nolan (two) before Pad Mythen pointed a '65 for the home side to put a goal between the sides again (2-12 to 0-15).
Bunclody continued to have the better of the game around this spell but didn't help their cause with four wides in a row before Nolan knocked over a '65 and Billy Kelly followed up with one from play to leave the minimum between the sides with six minutes to go.
Still, Oulart-The Ballagh seemed set to hold on as Murtha Doyle and the impressive Pad Mythen grabbed further scores to keep them ahead as Bunclody fought back through Nolan (free) and Kevin Dunne, only for Nolan to then find the net from that free as the clock showed 32 minutes played in the second-half.
The home side had one last chance to force extra-time but Martin Og Storey was crowded out while in possession and didn't get his shot away cleanly, with the final whistle then being blown and HWH-Bunclody going through to the decider against Crossabeg-Ballymurn which will be played on Sunday.
HWH-Bunclody: Art O'Neill; Conor Crean, Enda Slevin, Barry Kehoe; James Moorhead, Seán Kenny (0-2), John Atkinson; Colm Farrell (capt., 0-3), Billy Kelly (0-5, 3 frees); John Paul Connors (0-1), Conor Kinsella (0-1), Aidan Nolan (1-4, 1-2 frees, 0-1 '65); Conor Hendrick, Eoin Kelly (0-1), Kevin Dunne (0-2). Sub. - Mark Murphy for Hendrick (35).
Oulart-The Ballagh: Billy Dunne; John Murphy, Anthony Roche (capt.), Ian Storey; Nicholas Cullen, Eamon Murphy, David Rossiter; Tomás Dunne (0-1), Aaron Kenny (0-1); James O'Toole (0-2), Martin Og Storey (0-1), Pad Mythen (0-7, 1 free, 1 '65); Cormac Finn (1-0), Stephen Doyle, Murtha Doyle (1-3). Subs. - Darren Nolan for Stephen Doyle (HT), Rory O'Connor for Finn (43), Anthony Storey for O'Toole (49).
Referee: Eddie O'Sullivan (Ballyfad).