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Tuesday 24 April 2018

Fitz hits vital winning goal

Duffry Rovers 1-18 Tara Rocks 0-17

Brian Carty

Niall Hughes of Tara Rocks controls the sliothar as Liam Pender (Duffry Rovers) applies pressure
Niall Hughes of Tara Rocks controls the sliothar as Liam Pender (Duffry Rovers) applies pressure
Peter Hughes of Tara Rocks and Donie Doyle (Duffry) battle it out

Duffry Rovers conjured up some late drama when a goal from emerging star Cian Fitzhenry stunned Tara Rocks, as the Coolroe-based men won through to the Top Oil Intermediate 'A' hurling championship decider after a thrilling 1-18 to 0-17 semi-final victory at an unseasonably warm Bellefield on Sunday.

The lead had oscillated between the two sides throughout a highly-competitive game, but when the Breen brothers, Colin and Niall, landed a point each to bring Tara Rocks level at 0-17 apiece just as the game ticked onto the hour, a replay looked odds-on.

However, Duffry Rovers immediately embarked on the counter-initiative as Robert Frayne's effort at a point came down off the upright, and Fitzhenry was in on the rebound like a flash to open up a three-point cushion, while Cathal Clince steered over his fifth free for the insurance point the Duffry needed to advance to the decider against Fethard.

Tara Rocks hardly put a foot wrong in the early running, with Mark Boland opening the scoring after only ten seconds.

Niall Breen, Brendan Hobbs and Fionn Doyle followed with clever efforts from play, and Dean O'Toole converted two frees to build a 0-6 to 0-2 advantage after eleven minutes.

But that fizz went out of the Gorey District side thereafter, with the Duffry restoring parity by the 25th minute, and things remained finely poised at 0-9 apiece at the interval despite the victors hitting ten wides by that stage.

Frayne's second point edged the Duffry ahead by 0-13 to 0-11 by the 39th minute, although substitute Colin Breen scored from his first touch to restore parity soon after (0-14 each).

O'Toole (free) gave Rocks their final taste of the lead on 49 minutes, while three placed balls in succession from Liam Pender and Clince (twice) looked to be swinging the tie back towards the Duffry.

Then came that last moment of defiance from Tara Rocks that was ultimately made futile by the Duffry's injury time sting in the tail.

Duffry Rovers: Stephen Watchorn; Thomas Dunne, Donie Doyle, Aidan Byrne (0-2); Cathal Clince (0-5 frees), Paul Nolan, James Nolan; Johnny Flynn-O'Connor (0-1), Liam Pender (0-1 free); Alan O'Neill (capt.), Eamonn Doyle, Robert Frayne (0-2); Cian Fitzhenry (1-5, 0-3 frees), Donie O'Connor (0-1), Gavin Rafter. Subs. - Gavin Watchorn (0-1) for O'Neill, inj. (26), Matty Flynn-O'Connor for Rafter (48).

Tara Rocks: Tom Hughes; Cillian O'Toole, Edward Hughes, Aidan Jones; Mossy Owley, Niall Hughes, Jim Hughes; Niall Breen (capt., 0-3), Mark Boland (0-2); Fionn Doyle (0-1), Tommy Boland (0-1), Richard Hughes (0-1); Brendan Hobbs (0-1), Peter Hughes (0-1), Dean O'Toole (0-5, 4 frees). Sub. - Colin Breen (0-2) for Doyle (43).

Referee: Shane Quinn (Ballygarrett).

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