The game that had everything
High drama in Bellefield
Crossabeg-Ballymurn escaped Bellefield with their Courtyard Ferns Intermediate Hurling Championship chances intact after overcoming Rathgarogue-Cushinstown on Sunday afternoon last.
Crossabeg-Ballymurn 2-18 Rathgarogue-Cushinstown 1-19
It was a game that had everything, an ambulance and massive delay, red cards, superb scores, late drama, extra-time and eventually a winner as the Wexford district side got out of jail to move forward to the last four.
Firstly, the good news is that Ballymurn's Barry Murphy was released from hospital after the match. The talented attacking player crumpled to the ground in the 44th minute and was attended to for several minutes before being taken away in an ambulance with head and neck injuries.
It was a big loss for the victors, having stuttered earlier in the contest. They played with a howling breeze in the opening half and led 0-7 to 0-4, only to concede the last four points of the period and go in behind by one.
Daire Bolger was scorer-in-chief in the opening half for Cushinstown, notching five while Murphy scored four frees at the other end. With their ears likely ringing from a half-time dressing down, Ballymurn flew out of the blocks after the restart.
Murphy was involved again, taking the pass from Oisin Foley before feeding David Jackman, breaking in on goal. The Crossabeg-Ballymurn attacker made no mistake with his finish, drilling low past Colin Whelan.
His side had just moved a point clear again (1-9 to 0-11) when Murphy sustained his injury. The situation was dealt with superbly by everyone, the only question mark it brings up is should there be protocol about abandoning games in certain situations, particularly when an ambulance is required.
After a delay of approximately 25 minutes, the game restarted. Soon though, play would be stopped again with both sides embroiled in two brawls.
Enda Doran was dismissed for starting the whole thing, Cormac O'Rourke followed for his part in the melee.
Brian O'Neill's second point, in the 25th minute of added-time, gave Cushinstown their first two point lead of the afternoon (0-16 to 1-11) and had the crowd wondering how much longer would be played.
Ballymurn netted four minutes later when Bill Eviston forced the ball across goal, Billy Roche got blocked out but Shane O'Rourke picked up possession and sent a rocket to the Cushinstown rigging.
Moments later, with what turned out to be the second last puck of the game, O'Neill levelled (0-17 to 2-11). Yet, with seven overs in a row to start extra-time, six from Sam Kelly, the game looked to be petering out.
However, a Bolger point and a fortuitous major from a long Matthew Cody free left just three between the sides with four minutes remaining. In between those scores, the New Ross district side were reduced to 14 again, this time Bernard Furlong got his marching orders.
Cushinstown won a free 20 metres out in added-time. Colin Whelan came up to take it but his shot was tipped over the crossbar, from the goalline, to end the game and give Crossabeg-Ballymurn a spot in the semi-finals.
CROSSABEG-BALLYMURN: Mark Dempsey; Ronan Devereux, Billy Roche, Matthew Sludds; David Murphy, Padraig Foley, Alan Byrne; Barry Murphy (0-6 frees), Seamus Carroll (0-1); Bill Eviston, Sam Kelly (0-7, 5 frees), Shane O'Rourke (1-0); David Jackman (1-0), Tony Murphy, Oisin Foley (0-2). Subs. - Eoin McDonald for Kelly, temp (11-17), E. McDonald (0-2) for T. Murphy (17), Paddy Devereux for Carroll (38), David Kehoe for D. Murphy (41), Cormac O'Rourke for B. Murphy, ink (48), Seamus Carroll on at start of extra-time for red card (C. O'Rourke).
RATHGAROGUE-CUSHINSTOWN: Colin Whelan (0-1 free); Patrick Murphy, Paudie McGrath (capt), Francis O'Brien; Eoghan Whelan, Matthew Cody (1-2 frees), Peter Asple; Enda Doran, Robert Murphy; Daire Bolger (0-7, 6 frees), Bernard Furlong (0-2), Brian O'Neill (0-3); Jason Dunne (0-2), Daniel Martin Carroll (0-1), Ollie Bolger (0-1). Subs. - Bryan Cody for Asple (60+15), James Devereux for O. Bolger (60+18), Ollie Bolger on at start of extra-time for red card (E. Doran), Colm Murphy for E. Whelan (70), Mark Carroll for D. Bolger (76).
REFEREE: Brendan Martin (Ballyhogue).