Tomkins seals dramatic win

Askamore 2-21 Craanford 3-16

Alan Aherne

This slow-burning local derby in Group A of The Courtyard Ferns Intermediate hurling championship exploded into life in the last quarter at Monamolin on Saturday, as Askamore went from coasting with a twelve-point lead at one stage to relying on a second goal from the superb Shane Tomkins to overcome a strong comeback from fast-finishing Craanford.

Both sides were in need of the points after first round defeats, and it looked a mere formality for Askamore as they surged ahead by 0-16 to 0-4 by the 26th minute.

They could do no wrong up to that point, winning practically every Craanford puck-out chiefly through the ball-winning ability of Conor Levingstone.

Tom Kavanagh and the experienced Tommy Devereux were very sharp too in the half-back line, and the supply was so constant that all six forwards were on the scoresheet by the 18th minute.

Edmond Kenny's return from London has given them the added bonus of a strong targetman at full-forward, and he shot four points while Shane Tomkins chipped in with three.

Craanford were stuck to the ground, and the involvement of five starters in an Under-21 game that went to extra-time four days earlier went a long way towards explaining their lethargy.

However, they found their second wind to set up an intriguing finish, none more so than the promising Ollie Doran who scored 1-4 from play after the interval despite carrying an injury sustained in that District win over Ballygarrett on Tuesday when he had contributed 3-2.

Craanford's finish to the first-half was also essential in giving them the drive to recover, because they scored an unanswered 1-2 in the last three minutes plus added time to reduce the gap to a more manageable 0-16 to 1-6.

The goal came from a corner-forward combination as John Fleming set up James Smyth for a clinical finish, and Kevin Poole then nailed an 85-metre free before full-forward Matthew 'Wheeler' Nolan pointed from a tight angle.

Good and all as they looked earlier, Askamore had failed to rattle the net, although one of Kenny's points did fly over via the crossbar while Derek Finn made a vital save to deny P.J. Nolan in the 20th minute.

The start of the second-half was a tale of two goal chances, one taken and one missed. It didn't help Craanford's cause that they were the team denied when Brian Hayden jumped bravely to get his body between Matthew Nolan's shot and the net after an Ollie Doran handpass.

And they were hit with a double whammy as just over a minute later a Tommy Devereux clearance broke off Billy Nolan into the path of Shane Tomkins who rattled the net to make it 1-16 to 1-6.

There still appeared to be no imminent danger for Askamore when they led by 1-18 to 1-11 by the 48th minute, although Craanford were clearly improving.

However, two goals in the space of 80 seconds quickly changed that point of view.

Ollie Doran got the first from a Matthew Nolan cross after an Askamore handpass was intercepted, and Nolan swiftly scrambled in the second to fill Craanford with new-found belief.

Doran duly levelled from a Kevin Poole handpass (3-12 to 1-18), and it was breathtaking stuff from then until the finish.

Conor Levingstone restored Askamore's lead, only for Doran to reply. Tomkins caught the resultant puck-out and was fouled, with Gavin Sunderland tapping over in the absence of the substituted Ted Kinsella before points from Shane Kavanagh and substitute Jim Kenny with his first touch edged Craanford clear by 3-15 to 1-20 in the 59th minute.

It was left to Shane Tomkins to win the derby spoils for Askamore. Pádraig Byrne lofted a long delivery into the square that wasn't dealt with, and the county man was on hand to drill home his second goal from close range.

Although Ollie Doran made it a one-point game in added time, Byrne set up P.J. Nolan for an insurance score from the puck-out before both sides finished with 14 men.

Referee John O'Loughlin showed a straight red card to Craanford's Joe Berney after a row close to the sideline, but he only did likewise to Askamore's Edmond Kenny after being called in for a chat with his umpires prior to playing out the last few seconds.

Askamore: Brian Hayden; Patrick Nolan, Frank Lancaster, Tom Byrne; Tom Kavanagh, Tommy Devereux, James Lancaster; P.J. Nolan (0-1), Conor Levingstone (0-1); Pádraig Byrne (0-2), Shane Tomkins (2-4), Gavin Sunderland (0-3, 1 free); Billy Nolan (0-1), Edmond Kenny (0-4), Ted Kinsella (0-5 frees). Subs. - Tomás Hayden for Kinsella (48), Conor Travers for B. Nolan (48), Martin Hayden for F. Lancaster (53).

Craanford: Derek Finn; Joe Berney, Pat Kenny, Ger Lyons; Michael O'Loughlin, William Conroy, Mick Lyons; Pat Murray, Niall Berney; Kevin Poole (0-6, 5 frees, 1 '65), Ollie Doran (1-4), Shane Kavanagh (0-2); John Fleming, Matthew Nolan (1-3), James Smyth (1-0). Subs. - Des Kavanagh for Conroy (45), Calvin O'Toole for Smyth (53), Jim Kenny (0-1) for Fleming (57).

Referee: John O'Loughlin (Monageer-Boolavogue).

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