Irate Pat’s up in arms after exit
O’Toole the Tara Rocks hero
TARA ROCKS ST. PATRICK’S
UNRULY SCENES marred the aftermath of Saturday’s Top Oil Intermediate ‘A’ hurling championship Group A clash in Monamolin after long-time leaders St. Patrick’s had qualification for the quarter-finals snatched from their grasp by Gorey District rivals Tara Rocks in a tense finish.
While the Ballyoughter side had to win, a draw was all their rivals needed, and it was secured 15 seconds from the end of normal time when Conor Devitt’s delivery from the left wing into the right corner was dispatched to the net by Dean O’Toole.
Six added minutes followed, and one particular incident in that period provided the main talking point and also led to referee Ian Plunkett coming under verbal attack afterwards.
St. Patrick’s needed to regain their long-held lead, but they were thwarted as a Tomás Morris free fell short and was batted out before the outstanding John Doyle struck their tenth wide.
The centre-forward had earlier accounted for 2-4 from play and, when a Tara Rocks placed ball by Niall Breen was defended, the Pat’s were awarded another free in their own half, and not in scoring range.
It looked like Doyle was trotting back to take it, but instead he called for, and received, a short pass, and that’s when the controversy arose.
In my neutral opinion, he was quite clearly fouled, as an opposing arm made contact with his upper body and swung him around.
However, a free wasn’t awarded, and shortly afterwards the game ended and referee Plunkett was surrounded by irate St. Patrick’s players.
He showed a red card to Stephen Ryan, and a yellow to Richie Flood, but the fifth-place finishers were entitled to feel hard done by.
While Doyle was still in his own half when the challenge was made, even in the worst case scenario a free would have dropped around the square where anything might have happened.
Amid the commotion, trainer Shane Carley took his Tara Rocks charges down to a distant corner of the field where no doubt they breathed a collective sigh of relief before learning later in the afternoon that they will face Oulart-The Ballagh in the quarter-final.
While they led by the minimum three times in the first four minutes, they were caught napping when St. Patrick’s fashioned a wellworked goal midway through the opening quarter.
Everyone in the ground expected Tomás Morris to tap over a free from the left, but instead he squared the ball to the unmarked John Doyle who crashed it to the net (1-3 to 0-3).
Doyle’s second goal in the 14th minute was even better, as he shaped to take a potshot at the posts before flicking the ball into space over the head of the advancing Conor Devitt instead.
He had only one thing on his mind thereafter, bearing down on goal before driving a low shot across Tom Hughes to the far corner of the net.
‘No panic’ was the mantra from the Tara Rocks sideline, and to their credit they patiently picked off the points to leave three between the sides at the break (2-6 to 0-9).
Free-taker Dean O’Toole accounted for three, with Conor Devitt and Niall Hughes (back from the U.S.A. recently) also contributing, but St. Patrick’s were really up for this one and Niall O’Brien, Paul McDonald and John Doyle split the posts at the other end.
Although Tara Rocks made it a one-point game on the restart courtesy of placed balls from O’Toole and Niall Breen, the response was excellent as the Pat’s hit five unanswered scores in under seven minutes from Tomás Morris (two frees), Shane Finn, and a brace from John Doyle (211 to 0-11).
The game was in danger of slipping away from Tara Rocks, but they re-grouped midway through the half with points from a rising Ben O’Connor shot, Niall Breen (free), and substitute Colin Breen.
A trademark Stephen Ryan point, flicking the ball over a defender’s head with a dummy beforehand, drew a response from Paudie Hughes before veteran Pat’s netminder Stuart Quinn made a remarkable reflex save to deny Lee Owley a goal in the 52nd minute.
The ’65 that followed was pointed by Niall Breen, but John Doyle left three in it once more before the excitement levels rose another notch, with Dean O’Toole’s coolly-taken equalising goal followed by that heated finish.
Tara Rocks: Tom Hughes; Aidan Jones, Edward Hughes, Cathal O’Reilly; Mark Boland, Conor Devitt (0-1), Jim Hughes; Paudie Hughes (0-2), Niall Breen (0-4, 2 frees, 1 ’65); Ben O’Connor (0-1), Stephen Hughes (01), Lee Owley (0-1); Patrick Fortune, Niall Hughes (0-1), Dean O’Toole (1-4, 0-4 frees). Subs. - Colin Breen (0-1) for Fortune (43), Bobby Hughes for S. Hughes (43), Martin Sheehan for J. Hughes (57).
St. Patrick’s: Stuart Quinn; James Cousins, Michael O’Brien, Joe Cousins; Daryl Murphy, Richie Flood, Hughie Doyle (capt.); Tommy Dunne, Peter Roche; Tomás Morris (0-4 frees), John Doyle (2-4), Stephen Ryan (0-1); Shane Finn (0-1), Niall O’Brien (0-1), Paul McDonald (0-2).
Referee: Ian Plunkett (Marshalstown-Castledockrell).
Peter Murphy (Taghmon-Camross) clears his line despite the best efforts of Joe Coleman (Duffry Rovers).