Draw isn't enough
IHC - Cloughbawn 1-18, Adamstown 1-18
Sport, much like life itself, can be cruel. Yet that pain often gets shared around, as different teams lose games, or an array of players are denied crucial scores. Some teams win more than others, but everyone knows that bitter taste of defeat.
Unlike the previous week, when Clongeen edged Adamstown in the football quarter-finals, this wasn't a defeat, it was a draw.
However, the end result was the same, as the New Ross District club exited The Courtyard Ferns Intermediate hurling championship but were millimetres away from a quarter-final spot.
And that wasn't even the most cruel part of this story. That was saved for Tony French, the man who saw his cracking shot from way out ping off the upright and rebound to safety with the last kick of the game against Clongeen.
Sport is great for rebounds too, and when Tony took a flipped handpass from Lorcan French in the clear just to the left of the goal, with his side one point down four minutes into added-time, it looked for all the world like this would be his.
Nobody told Noel Carton. French made clean contact, maybe too clean as it whizzed at the Cloughbawn goal. In that situation a goalkeeper can only react and hope he makes contact. Carton did, the ball collided with his hurl, flew to safety, and the Adamstown attacker fell to his knees for the second time in less than a week.
French went on to convert his 15th free, a perfect day from the dead-balls, in the seventh minute of overtime, but it wasn't enough. The draw meant St. James', courtesy of the head-to-head victory over Adamstown, advanced in their place.
It had been a fairly unremarkable match for a long time. Tony French had seven of those frees in the first-half, and Lorcan French also pointed, but Adamstown were well behind a Cloughbawn side already assured of top spot in Group B.
The table-toppers had spread their scores around, notching six of theirs from open play, with Colm Kehoe nabbing the pick of them with a fantastic effort from near his own '65 as Cloughbawn led by 0-13 to 0-8 at the break.
Things were still chipping along just fine for Cloughbawn when a long Carton puck-out was flicked into the path of Bob Whitty, and he made no mistake with the finish to make it 1-17 to 0-12 in the 50th minute.
Adamstown then started to motor, and Paddy Whitty scored their second point from play in the 53rd minute.
Yet, it was Harry Cosgrave's clinically-taken goal that gave them hope with three minutes left (1-17 to 1-15), only for it to be snatched away when Carton saved from French in added-time.
Cloughbawn: Noel Carton; Gavin Murphy, Tomás Furlong, James Dempsey; Barry Kehoe, Corey Bolger, Colm Kehoe (0-1); Barry Carton (0-2), Páidí Cullen; Alan Carton (capt., 0-2), Harry Kehoe (0-4, 3 frees), Eanna Doyle; Connal Flood (0-1), M.J. Furlong (0-1), Bob Whitty (1-7, 0-4 frees, 0-1 '65). Subs. - Billy Wickham for Flood (52), Joey Lawlor for A. Carton (55).
Adamstown: M.J. Cooper; John Whelan, James Breen, Brendan Furlong; Michael Furlong, P.J. Carroll, Seán Barden; Johnny Connors, Lorcan French (0-1); Shane O'Gorman, Liam Stafford, Paudie Barden; Paddy Whitty (0-2), Tony French (0-15 frees), Tomás French. Subs. - Páraic Wickham for Whelan (30), Harry Cosgrave (1-0) for Tomás French (35), Colum Feeney for Breen (45), James Delaney for O'Gorman (52), John French for Connors, inj. (60+2).
Referee: Brendan Martin (Ballyhogue).