Holycross Ballycahill 2-13
Holycross Ballycahill snatched a dramatic draw right at the death in the All-Ireland Junior B Hurling Final at Raheenagh on Sunday last, just when it seemed as though local club Templeglantine would nbe crowned champions.
The Tipperary champions, renowned for their fighting spirit and their never-say-die psyche all season long, once again brought those very formidable traits to the fore as they battled from five points down in both the first and second half, to rally at the death and force a replay thanks to centre back Brendan Ryan who snatched a fine score to share the spoils having move dup-field in the closing stages.
The draw was wel deserved too and the sides must go at it again now in the same venue on Sunday afternoon next at 2:00pm - the third time in just over a mponth that they will have met in the competition. At present it lies as one victory for Templeglantine, one draw, and one game to come.
On a dry spring day with a fresh breeze blowing from end to end, the sides went shoulder to shoulder and hip to hip at Pairc Ide Naofa Raheenagh in this All Ireland junior B hurling final - a fantastic occasion for both clubs and for the players involved.
A huge attendance made their way to the grounds with Holycross Ballycahill being very well supported despite the long trek to the venue.
The opening exchanges were at high speed ,hard and fair as both teams looked to impose themselves on the game.
But it was the Limerick side who got the upper hand in the opening quarter with two pointed frees from Limerick footballers John Riordan of Glantine and further scores from Michael Sexton (0-02) and James Riordan while Holycross Ballycahill kept in touch with three pointed frees from Paidi Comerford and another from play.
Templeglantine, with a goal midway through the half, looked to have struck a decisive blow. However, it was Holycross/Ballycahill who upped their game and dominated the closing ten minuets.
Full forward Donal Duggan, proving more than a handfull for the Templeglantine rearguard, struck a goal and then two points from centre forward Michael Lee and a pointed 65 from Paidi Comerford saw the Premier County champions go in front. Templeglantine replied with points from James Riordan and Seamie Scanlan to leave it Holycross/Ballycahill 1-08 Templeglantine 1-07 at half time.
Considering the bad start the Holycross Ballycahill lads had gotten, to be going in in front was a big turnaround, even allowing for the fact that they had played with the aid of the breeze in the first half. Would one point be enough though, especially with the Limerick lads eyeing up the elements and hoping that they would favour them?
Templeglantine started in whirlwind fashion in the second half and three quick points saw them take the lead once more.
Then , a goal by the Limerick full forward Gavin Harnett looked to have settled this game as the Limerick side were now in full flow. It would take a big effort on the part of the Holycross Ballycahill lads to get back into the match. But, they did and rallied to produce a great last quarter.
As has been their wont, Holycross Ballycahill were not willing to throw in the towel just yet and found a lifeline when a speculative ball dropped in around the Limerick goal and the ensuing tussle saw the ball driven to the net by John Fogarty after a fine run from Peter Gavin to narrow the gap to two points.
As the clock ticked by the preassure mounted but now the margin was a point as the Premier men finally got a grip on the game.
Templeglantine were hanging on for dear life as the game entered stoppage time but a final rally by Holycross saw the ball sail between the posts from a shot by Brendan Ryan to salvage a draw from what was surely defeat.
This was a fine game of hurling with great excitement and tremendous endeavour from both teams. Holycross Ballycahill will perhaps feel that there is more in them and the fact that they have upper their game quite considerably and gotten into a higher tempo will give them much confidence for the replay.
Undoubtedly they were spurred on by the huge support received and they will be looking for more of the same on Sunday in the replay.
Manager Jimmy Burke and his selectors will be seeking to find an extra edge to see the job completed and are leaving no stone unturned in a bid to do so. Holycross Ballycahill: T Burke, P Ryan, A Joyce, C Hayes, D Murphy, B Ryan, E Moloney, J Fogarty, D McCuallgh, K Dwyer, M Lee, J Skehan, P Comerford, D Duggan, P Gavin. Subs: J Dunne, P McGrath.