Extra delight for Craanford
Craanford 3-18 Ballygarrett 1-23 (AET)
Extra-time was needed to separate two very talented squads on Tuesday during the Gorey District Under-21 hurling championship quarter-final between Craanford and Ballygarrett.
Playing on their own soil and in front of their home crowd, Craanford had gathered a lot of spectators to welcome the visitors. And it was a longer stay than they would have originally thought when driving through the blue and white-painted gates.
Two very strong and skilful players went head-to-head, Kevin Poole for Craanford and Cormac Moore for Ballygarrett.
The reliable duo had the huge responsibility of free-taking for their teams and even during open play, the two forwards played influential roles.
The teams found it hard to separate from each other in the opening half. Whenever one side claimed the upper hand, it was never long before a good reply and an equaliser came from the opposing team.
A eight first-half saw the sides with one between them at the break, as Craanford led by 0-9 to 0-8. Eoin Doyle had the big job of taming one of Ballygarrett's most well-known figures, Cathal Dunbar.
The Senior Wexford hurler covered a lot of ground throughout, while Eoin Corcoran played a great anchoring role for Dunbar, but young Doyle from Craanford did a tremendous job by his side.
Things began to get exciting in the second period, with Ollie Doran rattling the back of Conor Dowling's net three times. This hat-trick made his side very comfortable, with just Cormac Moore finding the net for Ballygarrett at the opposite end. Poole was consistent on frees while James Smyth and Martin Kenny also stood out.
Craanford were four ahead with nine minutes remaining but the black and amber lads weren't going down easily.
Cathal Dunbar expressed his talent numerous times while Oisín Dunbar, Brendan Corcoran and Billy Conway followed suit by raising white flags.
This left the teams level after full-time, and a quick change to the upper field meant they would battle it out under the lights for extra-time.
Tensions were high as the action proceeded. Being awarded a free was almost like scoring a point as roars from team-mates expressed great determination for victory.
The battle of free-taking between Moore and Poole continued, with one as accurate as the other. Brothers Eoin and Brendan Corcoran were mighty in the extra-time for Ballygarrett, while James Smyth stood out for Craanford in the forward line.
Jim Kenny fought tremendously hard in midfield whilst William Conroy didn't let much by him at centre-back. Craanford were up by one at the break and they retained this advantage after extra-time.
They even added one more point, leaving them tired and victorious with two points in hand to set up a semi-final clash with Ferns St. Aidan's.
Craanford: Andrew Tighe; Seán Byrne, Pat Kenny, Jack Keogh; Martin Doyle, William Conroy, Eoin Doyle; Ollie Doran (3-2), Jim Kenny (0-1); Cian O'Toole, Kevin Poole (0-10, 8 frees), Thomas Furlong; Martin Kenny, James Smyth (0-5), Paddy Doyle. Sub. - Jack Berney for P. Doyle.
Ballygarrett: Conor Dowling; David Doran, Tom Sinnott, Johnny Sinnott; Gavin Morris, Darren Morris, Brian O'Connor; Cathal Dunbar (0-6), Eoin Corcoran (0-1); Oisín Dunbar, Cormac Moore (1-8, 0-7 frees), Brendan Corcoran (0-5); Patrick Fleming (0-1), Billy Conway (0-2), Jack Doyle. Subs. - Killian Doyle for Moore, Alan Fleming for O. Dunbar.
Referee: Joe Kelly (Naomh Eanna).