Agonising exit for Ballymurn
Multyfarnham 1-7 Crossabeg-Ballymurn 0-9
A pointed free deep into injury time broke Crossabeg-Ballymurn hearts as they exited the AIB Leinster Club Junior football championship at the semi-final stage in Bellefield on Saturday.
When Max Brady stroked the ball over the bar in the 64th minute it was only the second time that Multyfarnham had got their noses in front in the game; the first was when they scored the opening point just three minutes in.
In between Crossabeg-Ballymurn were the better side for at least three-quarters of the contest, and when Cormac O'Rourke converted a free with just over 13 minutes of regulation time remaining to put them 0-8 to 0-3 ahead they looked to have one foot in the provincial decider.
However, once Mark Reynolds plundered a goal in the 50th minute the Westmeath champions looked an entirely different animal.
You could see the renewed belief rising all over the field as they upped the tempo and began to find holes in a Crossabeg-Ballymurn defence that had earlier been almost impenetrable.
Maybe the miles on the clock began to catch up on the Wexford representatives after their relentless schedule, or possibly the loss of Paddy Devereux and Sam Kelly, through suspension and injury respectively, from the fiery quarter-final win over Man O'War proved costly, but given the right breaks it's a game they could and should have won.
Of course, what you lose on the swings, you gain on the roundabouts, and the Wexford District club experienced the other side of the coin the previous weekend when a late Pádraig Foley goal shattered Monageer-Boolavogue in a rip-roaring Intermediate hurling championship semi-final replay.
For a long time on Saturday, it looked like they were on the way to a more routine victory, as after Danny Loughrey had converted an early free to put the Westmeath men in front they assumed total control.
They played all the football in the opening 20 minutes, with Cormac O'Rourke firing over two frees and a long-range effort from play and Bill Eviston adding another as they built up a 0-4 to 0-1 advantage inside the opening quarter.
It could have been even better for the Wexford side as they were awarded a penalty in the eighth minute when Pádraig Foley aimed for the posts, and when his effort dropped short goalkeeper Henry Reilly let the ball slip from his grasp and brought down Robert Byrne.
Ronan Devereux took the responsibility and, although he struck his effort quite well, Reilly made amends, getting down brilliantly to his left to make a full-length save.
The score remained at 0-4 to 0-1 until the interval, although Multyfarnham did have a gilt-edged chance to level matters when they were also awarded a penalty, but Max Brady's strike came back off the left upright.
Multyfarnham showed a greater urgency immediately after the interval and nice points from David Wallace and Max Brady had them back within one six minutes in.
However, Crossabeg-Ballymurn looked to have weathered the brief storm when scoring four points on the trot by the 47th minute.
Conor Devereux split the posts after being found by Pádraig Foley and Bill Eviston gathered a short free from Cormac O'Rourke and popped it over the bar, either side of two O'Rourke placed balls.
Multyfarnham were right back in it within three minutes though, with Max Brady slotting over a free and then they grabbed a priceless goal when Mark Reynolds gathered a pass from Anthony McGivney and slid the ball past Ben Turner.
Reynolds almost had a second goal moments later, but Oisín Foley was alive to the danger and showed great positional sense to clear his effort off the line.
The midlanders drew level with 52 minutes on the clock through a Max Brady free, but Cormac O'Rourke replied in kind within 60 seconds to restore the Crossabeg-Ballymurn advantage.
Danny Loughrey stroked over another placed ball with three minutes remaining to tie it up again, and Max Brady grabbed the winning point from a 21-yard free in the 64th minute to send the sizeable Multyfarnham following into raptures.
It will obviously niggle away at the Crossabeg-Ballymurn crew that this one was there for the taking and they let a Leinster final place slip through their fingers, but when all is said and done they can look back with pride on a tremendous season and still have next Saturday's county Intermediate hurling decider to look forward to.
Crossabeg-Ballymurn: Ben Turner; Conor Gormley, Oisín Foley, Conor Barlow; Martin Redmond, Ronan Devereux, Seamus Carroll; Conor Devereux (0-1), Pádraig Foley; Conor Shovlin (capt.), Bill Eviston (0-2), Cian Lambert; Oran Maddock, Robert Byrne, Cormac O'Rourke (0-6, 5 frees). Subs. - Mark O'Connor for Maddock, Cathal Devereux for Byrne.
Multyfarnham: Henry Reilly; Stephen Moran, Paul Heavin, Tommy McGivney; James Greene, Ronan Wallace, Ciarán Madden; Brian McLoughlin, Danny Loughrey (0-2 frees); Mark Reynolds (1-0), Anthony McGivney, Adam Loughrey; Ian McGovern, Max Brady (0-4, 3 frees), David Wallace (capt., 0-1). Subs. - Seán Rock for A. Loughrey, Mark Fallon for Madden.
Referee: David Fedigan (Louth).