Hearne hits Shels leveller
Shelmaliers 1-14 Rathnure 1-14
Conor Hearne capped a fantastic individual performance with an equalising point, four minutes into added time, as Shelmaliers and Rathnure shared the spoils in the Pettitts Senior hurling championship Group A tie in Bellefield on Saturday.
There looked to be little on when Brian Malone battled for and won tough possession in the right corner as referee Barry Redmond glanced at this watch. However, Hearne was having an afternoon to remember.
He had no second thoughts, the confidence of youth perhaps, as he just grabbed the ball, took aim and nailed a sensational leveller from way out in the right corner-forward position to give his side a crucial draw.
It was probably the fairest result at the end of a competitive game that had an ample supply of hard workers but few stand-out performers. Rathnure will probably be the more disappointed, having led by a couple of points heading into overtime, but their position in the table is far less fragile than Shelmaliers.
In reality both of these clubs should have enough about them to make the quarters. Apart from Hearne, Rathnure full-back Brian Quigley really impressed with a strong showing on former Wexford forward Stephen Banville, as had the Shels won that match-up they would have taken the spoils.
Rathnure had the partial crosswind helping in the opening half but couldn't shake off their opponents. In fact, twice they were indebted to goalkeeper Dermot Flynn for keeping the ball out of the net as Shelmaliers threatened.
It was 0-1 each when Hearne brought a solid save out of Flynn in the fourth minute. Joe Kelly scored three first-half points for his side as they moved 0-7 to 0-6 ahead with seven minutes to go before the break.
Paddy Whiteley levelled the game with a fine score but Flynn was forced into a stunning point-blank save from Hearne as the game moved towards the interval. James Tobin's point in the final minute of the half gave his side a 0-8 to 0-7 lead at the break.
An interesting moment at the beginning of the second period came back to haunt Rathnure. Podge Doyle was fouled 20 metres from goal, right in front of the posts, but Ciarán O'Connor lost concentration on the free and, leaning away as he struck it, the sliothar clattered the upright and was cleared.
It was forgotten in the short term as three Jack Guiney points eased Rathnure 0-12 to 0-10 ahead at the start of the final quarter.
Then things got interesting, as Simon Donohoe won possession, linked up with Glen Malone and he released Ciarán O'Shaughnessy.
Cutting in on goal, O'Shaughnessy went for power over placement and it paid off. Flynn got his hurl on the ball but it flew up into the net.
Still, there was just a point in it (1-11 to 0-13) when Guiney collected from James Tobin, jinked inside the last defender and fired across Brian Murphy to the net.
Michael Redmond, who was lively off the bench, gave Rathnure a two-point lead but a converted Kelly line ball in injury time, followed by Hearne's leveller, ensured that the sides shared the spoils.
Shelmaliers: Brian Murphy; Simon Donohoe, Conor Walsh, Ciarán Walsh; Glen Malone, Aidan Cash, Jody Donohoe; Andre O'Brien (capt.), Eoin Doyle (0-2); Ciarán O'Shaughnessy (1-0), Brian Malone, Tommy Barron (0-1); Conor Hearne (0-5), Stephen Banville, Joe Kelly (0-5, 3 frees, 1 '65, 1 line ball). Subs. - Benny Barron for T. Barron (42), Eoghan Nolan (0-1) for J. Donohoe (48), James Cash for O'Shaughnessy (55), Páraic O'Leary for Doyle (59).
Rathnure: Dermot Flynn; Denis Maher, Brian Quigley, Antony O'Connell; Paddy Whiteley (capt., 0-1), Aidan Redmond; Richie Flynn (0-1), Shane Lawlor (0-1); Ciarán O'Connor (0-2, 1 free, 1 '65), James Tobin (0-1), Podge Doyle; Rory Higgins, Jack Guiney (1-5, 0-1 free, 0-1 '65), Brendan O'Leary (0-1). Subs. - Syl Barron for O'Leary (37), Michael Redmond (0-2) for Doyle (43), Seánie Redmond for Higgins (54).
Referee: Barry Redmond (Clonard).