Hayden saves day
Two late goals deny Rocks’ title bid
TARA ROCKS MUNNA ABBAIN
TWO injury-time goals from Cathal Doyle and Darren Hayden respectively gave Munna Abbáin a second bite of the cherry when salvaging a 2-11 to 1-14 draw with long-time leaders Tara Rocks in Wednesday’s thrilling Greenstar Under-20 hurling Division 3 championship final in Craanford.
With Ben O’Connor and Paudie Hughes in stellar form for Tara Rocks, they looked set to clinch a historic victory when holding a 1-14 to 0-11 advantage with time rapidly depleting.
But the Taghmon-Camross/ Adamstown combination refused to wilt, and when Cathal Doyle clinically stitched a close-in free, there was suddenly only a puck of the ball between the sides.
And Rocks connections breathed a collective sigh of relief soon after when Doyle’s free dropped into the net, but observant referee Justin Heffernan quickly ruled it out for a square ball offence.
Still, all the momentum was with the New Ross District crew, and they lived to fight another day when Darren Hayden prodded the rebound to the net after Seán Geoghegan had made an outstanding save to deny Doyle.
Indeed, had Tara Rocks prevailed, they would have owed huge gratitude to Geoghegan, who made a game-defining double save in an incredible passage of play around the 54-minute mark.
Firstly, Luke Sinnott made some room for himself and had his eyes set on the top corner, only for Geoghegan to somehow get his hurl to his shot, and when Andrew French shaped to flash the rebound to the net, the razor-sharp goalie batted away.
Remarkably, two pucks of the ball later, Donnacha McDonald coolly goaled to build that 1-14 to 0-11 lead for Tara Rocks that was subsequently wiped out in dramatic circumstances.
O’Connor was a buzzing threat up front in the first period in particular, accounting for half of his side’s tally as they forged a 0-6 to 0-1 lead by the 13th minute.
Adam and Luke Sinnott (free) and Doyle (free) pegged back points for Munna Abbáin before half-time, but they had hit eight wides by that stage as Tara Rocks led by 0-9 to 0-4.
While the next three points after the break came from Munna Abbáin sticks, Ben Morris advanced from corner-back to point to keep Tara Rocks’ noses in front.
And it looked for all the world that they had done enough to take the honours, but now must steel themselves for a replay.
Tara Rocks: Seán Geoghegan; Ben Morris (0-1), Cathal O’Reilly (capt.), Liam McCarthy; Tom Mordaunt, Seán Forde, Conor Hughes; Paudie Hughes (0-1), Colm Noctor; Robert Murphy (0-2, 1 free, 1 ‘65), Seán Bardon (0-1), Andrew Murphy; Caleb Murphy (0-2), Ben O’Connor (05), Donnacha McDonald (1-2). Subs. - Maurice Cousins for McCarthy (37), also Stephen Mordaunt, Luke Devitt, Patrick O’Connor.
Munna Abbáin: Liam Stafford (capt.); J.P. Furlong, Stephen O’Keeffe, Tom Banville; Michael Dunleavy, David O’Keeffe, Darragh Winters; Seánie O’Neill, Pete Murphy; Anto Roche, Darren Hayden (1-0), Shane Lacey; Cathal Doyle (1-6, 1-5 frees, 0-1 ‘65), Luke Sinnott (0-4, 1 free, 1 ‘65), Adam Sinnott (0-1). Subs. - Andrew French for Winters (38), also John Banville, Adrian Doyle, Jack Whelan, Patrick Roche, Jack Murphy, Dylan Colfer, Páraic Wickham, Colum Feeney, Cormac McGrath, Martin Roche, Shane Doyle.
Referee: Justin Heffernan (Blackwater).
The Tara Rocks panel prior to Wednesday’s county final in Craanford.
The Munna Abbáin players who secured a second chance at glory thanks to two late goals.
Anto Roche of Munna Abbáin and Seán Forde in action.