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Friday 19 October 2018

Gahan gets leveller

Crossabeg-Ballymurn 2-8 Monageer-Boolavogue 0-14

Ian Hawkins and Pádraig Foley contest possession
Ian Hawkins and Pádraig Foley contest possession
Paul Roche of Crossabeg-Ballymurn attempts to hook Diarmuid Fenlon (Monageer-Boolavogue) as Pádraig Foley looks on

Alan Aherne

A draw was the last thing the fixtures committee wanted from Saturday's The Courtyard Ferns Intermediate hurling championship semi-final in Bellefield, and it was hardly what Crossabeg-Ballymurn desired either given their punishing schedule between both codes at the minute.

Most importantly though, it was the very least that Monageer-Boolavogue deserved after a gripping finish saw them hit five of the last six points in the closing quarter.

The reds had prevailed when the sides met in the group stages, but the return of Pádraig Foley was expected to tip the scales in the Wexford District side's favour.

And that seemed the most likely outcome early in the second-half, with Monageer-Boolavogue's half-time lead of 0-8 to 1-3 wiped out in the 32nd minute when a Seamus Carroll delivery was caught and drilled to the net from close range by ex-Kildare regular Tony Murphy.

Sam Kelly, who hit five of his side's twelve wides, followed up with his opening point, and the gap was widened to 2-7 to 0-9 by the 43rd minute after a Pádraig Flynn free for Monageer-Boolavogue drew three unanswered replies from Oisín Foley (after catching the puck-out) and a brace of Kelly placed balls.

Goal attempts for the Enniscorthy District side from Mark and Bertie Gahan had been saved during that spell, but they thundered back into the running with an excellent last quarter and both men featured prominently.

Two points in as many minutes from Bertie were followed by a first for Mark, and the pressure was mounting on Crossabeg-Ballymurn.

Two Sam Kelly frees were struck wide, the second more scoreable than the first, and Monageer-Boolavogue's tails were really up when new free-taker Diarmuid Fenlon delivered after Pádraig Flynn was taken off to nail the equaliser in the 56th minute (0-13 to 2-7).

Crossabeg-Ballymurn's sole score of the last quarter followed, and it was precious given the outcome, with Sam Kelly intercepting an attempted clearance and directing the sliothar over the bar.

Cathal Walsh hit the 14th and final Monageer-Boolavogue wide before Diarmuid Fenlon lofted a free from the left sideline into the goalmouth, but it was cleared.

However, added time was just 40 seconds old when Niall O'Reilly sent a neat ball down the left flank for substitute Mark Gahan to knock over the leveller.

The best chance to win it fell to Monageer-Boolavogue just under one minute later when Mick Sweeney found Bertie Gahan who handpassed across goal for the experienced Colm O'Loughlin, but he couldn't get a clean stroke on the ball and the scramble that arose was followed by a throw-in.

Pádraig Foley struck the twelfth Crossabeg-Ballymurn wide before the action concluded, but on the run of play they will be glad of the second opportunity despite the added pressure it places on their dual players.

Monageer-Boolavogue had opened brightly with the wind, as Pádraig Flynn soloed through for a point after just 13 seconds before Stephen Murphy intercepted a Crossabeg-Ballymurn line ball and doubled the lead.

Brian O'Loughlin made it three from a free before Ronan Devereux and Paddy Breen swapped points, but the next 1-2 was scored by the Over The Water side as they hit the front early in the second quarter.

Conor Devereux picked off a fine point after lovely combination play between Pádraig Foley and Niall Murphy, and the latter then struck a glorious line ball between the posts from the left flank.

The goal that gave them the lead arrived in the 16th minute when Tony Murphy jumped with his netminding namesake, Seán, after Conor Devereux delivered a dangerous ball from the left, and the ball broke into the path of Niall Murphy who couldn't miss from close range (1-3 to 0-4).

While that concession was a big blow to Monageer-Boolavogue, experienced defender Paddy Breen made a timely intervention to prevent a second goal in the 27th minute.

And though every score was hard-earned, they did hit four points on the trot from Matthew Dunne, Pádraig Flynn (free), Bertie Gahan and another Flynn free to lead by 0-8 to 1-3 at the break.

The action that followed became more absorbing with every passing minute, and the outcome ensured that St. Anne's won't be playing the final against whoever emerges from the replay until the first weekend of November at the earliest.

Crossabeg-Ballymurn: Mark Dempsey; Paul Roche, Bill Eviston, Alan Byrne; Conor Devereux (0-1), Pádraig Foley, Conor Shovlin; Paddy Devereux, Seamus Carroll; Oisín Foley (0-1), Sam Kelly (0-4, 2 frees), Shane O'Rourke; Ronan Devereux (0-1), Tony Murphy (1-0), Niall Murphy (1-1, 0-1 line ball). Subs. - Eoin McDonald for Shovlin (42), Matty Sludds (joint capt.) for Roche (50), Billy Roche (joint capt.) for T. Murphy (60+2).

Monageer-Boolavogue: Seán Murphy; Niall O'Reilly, Chris Daly, Liam Gahan; Paddy Breen (0-1), Tommy Breen (capt.), Mick Sweeney; Stephen Murphy (0-1), Larry Murphy; Ian Hawkins, Brian O'Loughlin (0-1 free), Pádraig Flynn (0-4, 3 frees); Diarmuid Fenlon (0-1 free), Matthew Dunne (0-1), Bertie Gahan (0-3). Subs. - Mark Gahan (0-2) for Hawkins (HT), Cathal Walsh for L. Murphy (40), Shane Gahan for Flynn (48), Colm O'Loughlin for B. O'Loughlin (54).

Referee: David O'Leary (Rathnure).

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