Gorey stay on top
Kilrush denied win by Doyle's free
Sean Doyle denied Kilrush the victory they needed to leapfrog Naomh Eanna on the Joyces Expert Intermediate 'A' football championship final Group A table when he earned and then converted a free in added time to ensure a share of the spoils in Monamolin on Friday.
Naomh Eanna 2-6 Kilrush 2-6
The black and ambers looked to have the momentum to inflict a first defeat of the year on their Gorey town rivals twice in the second-half, only to be reeled in on both occasions.
The first occurrence was in the 41st minute when, immediately after a Raymond Lancaster point, substitute Eoghan Murphy won the kick-out and fed the former who bore down on goal before finishing clinically past Seán Sheridan with a low shot.
That goal put Kilrush in front for the first time (1-6 to 1-4), having hit 1-3 without reply as the centre-forward's 1-1 burst was preceded by a brace of converted Brian Hayden frees.
Their surge was stalled though as Naomh Eanna lifted the siege at the end of the third quarter, finishing a scoreless spell of nearly 13 minutes and regaining the lead when Gearóid Cullen crashed home his second goal after good work by his older brother, William, and half-time substitute Fionn Doyle.
Seán Doyle added a point to widen the gap to two midway through the last quarter, but the game took a turn back in favour of Kilrush when they conjured a well-worked second goal in the 59th minute.
P.J. Nolan did well to get to the ball close to the right sideline and punt it down the wing to Raymond Lancaster who in turn found Brian Hayden with a pass. The corner-forward had a lot of work to do but he performed it with aplomb, beating Joseph O'Connor with his pace before slotting a low shot under Seán Sheridan to edge Kilrush back in front by 2-6 to 2-5.
Colm Buttle kicked their eleventh wide (Naomh Eanna had six) before Seán Doyle was fouled just to the right of the posts one minute into added time and duly lofted over the leveller which means the town men are still unbeaten since last year's second-half capitulation in the county final against St. Mary's (Maudlintown) when they failed to score.
On this form these sides will struggle to go all the way, although that comment must be tempered by the fact that both were already through so didn't have to show their full hands.
The prime example of this came from Kilrush who didn't risk the calf injury sustained by Shane Tomkins one week after his 0-17 haul in Intermediate hurling with a view to bigger challenges ahead.
The prevailing situation was also reflected in a truly awful first-half after which Naomh Eanna led by 1-3 to 0-2, with Gearóid Cullen getting the goal in the fifth minute when he reacted quickest to a point attempt which rebounded off the post.
The standard did improve on the re-start after Kilrush wing-back Tom Kavanagh marauded forward for a point and Gorey substitute Fionn Doyle responded with his first kick.
Kilrush did more to merit a win from that point onwards, but their rivals dug in to end the group stages with nine points from a possible ten.
Naomh Eanna: Seán Sheridan; John Stafford, Brendan Travers, Tom Stafford; Peter Travers (capt.), Simon Doran, Lee Kinsella; Conor Hughes, John O'Brien (Ramsfort); Pádraig Doyle, Dara McDonald, Gearóid Cullen (2-0); William Cullen (0-2, 1 free), Barry Kinsella, Seán Doyle (0-3, 1 free). Subs. - Fionn Doyle (0-1) for B. Kinsella (HT), Joseph O'Connor for J. Stafford (HT), John O'Brien (Cork) for W. Cullen (49), Darragh Cullen for Hughes (49), Aodhán Doyle for L. Kinsella (49).
Kilrush: John Harte; James Lancaster, Frank Lancaster, Patrick Nolan; Tom Kavanagh (0-1), Tommy Devereux (capt.), Colm Buttle; Tom Byrne, Conor Levingstone; Podge Byrne (0-1), Raymond Lancaster (1-1), Gavin Sunderland; Brian Hayden (1-3, 0-3 frees), Frank Boggan, Conor Travers. Subs. - Eoghan Murphy for Travers (36), P.J. Nolan for P. Byrne (51).
Referee: Noel O'Connor (Volunteers).