Rathnure turn on power
A powerful second half from Rathnure saw them drive past Buffers Alley in St. Patrick's Park on Tuesday and into the Greenstar Under-21 hurling Roinn 1 championship final.
Rathnure 3-16 Beuufers Alley 4-6
The Enniscorthy District champions were trailing by three after the first 30 minutes (2-4 to 0-7) but with the wind at their backs, and their forwards starting to find spaces that just weren't there previously, Rathnure prospered.
Things were going just fine for the Monamolin underdogs when Liam Rath's ball was fumbled in Ross Donohoe's direction and the talented attacker drove towards goal, drilling low past Liam Barron to make it 1-1 to 0-2.
From when Brian Quigley cut the deficit to two (1-3 to 0-4) in the twelfth minute, until Walter Gahan pulled to the net after Owen Dempsey's initial shot was saved in the 24th, there was no score at either end.
Rathnure had dragged Aodhán Foley back to act as an extra defender to counter the wind disadvantage and they would have been happy enough with the state of play at the interval, trailing by 2-4 to 0-7.
Scores from Shane and Jason Lawlor, plus Ciarán O'Connor's fourth free, drew them level within seven minutes of the re-start. Things got even better when Eoin Higgins fed Michael Redmond in his own half, and the Rathnure midfielder pumped long, allowing Jason Lawlor to pull past the onrushing Oliver O'Leary.
Moments later, Ciarán O'Connor broke clear from Jason Lawlor's feed for another well-taken major. The Alley managed just two points in the 30 minutes of normal time in the second-half.
However, they were still hanging on, trailing by 2-12 to 2-6, when influential defender John Furlong was injured with nine minutes remaining.
That was the signal for Rathnure to turn on the afterburners. Sandwiched in the middle of four quick points, Jason Lawlor broke away from the tiring Buffers Alley defence to fire past O'Leary for the second time in the half.
If there's one thing that their run to the Gorey District title has told everyone about this Buffers Alley team, it's that they never give up. However, when the late, late show came this time they had left themselves in too much of a hole.
Trailing by 3-16 to 2-6, Buffers Alley first netted in the seventh minute of added time when Ross Donohoe converted a penalty after John Lee Meyler was dragged down. Then a minute later Ciarán Murphy's long-range free evaded a crowded Rathnure goalmouth to find the net.
It mattered little to the victors Rathnure, who will now have to wait until August 30 for the county final. With the New Ross District just at the final stage last night (Monday), the winners of that game between Rathgarogue-Cushinstown and Gusserane will still have to face Blackwater in the other Roinn 1 semi-final next Tuesday.
Rathnure: Liam Barron; Eoin Byrne, Denis Maher, Cathal O'Connor; Eoin Higgins, Brian Quigley (0-1 free), Ben Ronan; Podge Doyle (0-1), Michael Redmond (0-1); Micheál Martin (0-1), Ciarán O'Connor (1-4, 0-4 frees), Shane Lawlor (capt., 0-2); Aodhán Foley, Seánie Redmond (0-1), Jason Lawlor (2-4). Subs. - Paddy Flynn (0-1) for Martin (44), Martin O'Connor for S. Redmond (60+5), Thomas Furlong for J. Lawlor (60+7).
Buffers Alley: Oliver O'Leary (capt.); Laurence Gahan, Ciarán Murphy (1-0 free), Leonard Leacy; Gearóid O'Connor, John Farrell, John Furlong; John Lee Meyler (0-1), Eoin Whelan; Lee Murphy, Ross Donohoe (2-3, 1-0 pen., 0-3 frees), Liam Rath; Robbie Donnelly, Walter Gahan (1-0), Owen Dempsey (0-2). Subs. - Darragh Hammel for Gahan (44), Darragh Kehoe for Furlong, inj. (51).
Referee: John Tobin (Geraldine O'Hanrahans).