Con­way wiz­ardry seals re­play for Lix­naw

Timmy Shee­han takes a look back at least week­end’s breath-tak­ing county se­nior hurl­ing fi­nal and con­sid­ers what it might mean for this week­end’s re­play

The Kerryman (North Kerry) - - FRONT PAGE -

IT was al­ways on the cards that a draw might well tran­spire given the num­ber of times that the game was level and, in­deed, del­i­cately poised.

At the end of such a re­sult there’s al­ways a feel­ing, of maybe, a bit of anti cli­max. The re­ac­tion of the sup­port­ers is muted, with the play­ers hav­ing noth­ing re­ally to cel­e­brate or, in­deed, be dis­ap­pointed about.

There was a bit of re­ac­tion I sup­pose to the amount of added time, but it was half hearted, be­cause re­ally when en­coun­ters fin­ish all square a pretty sub­dued mood al­most in­evitably pre­vails.

No­body knows ini­tially when the re­play will be, so it’s very much a glass half full or half empty de­pend­ing on how one views the sit­u­a­tion. Of the two teams Lix­naw will prob­a­bly be more re­lieved to get a sec­ond bite of the cherry.

Shane Con­way’s side­line stroke was es­sen­tially their get out of jail card and it wasn’t an easy op­por­tu­nity by any stretch of the imag­i­na­tion even for some of the mar­quee per­form­ers such as the likes of Joe Can­ning.

Dou­bly so given the cir­cum­stances, be­cause the re­sult of his ef­fort was going to be the dif­fer­ence be­tween vic­tory and de­feat, the mar­gin which was going to de­cide where the cham­pi­onship crown would rest for twelve months.

And this is just a teenager start­ing out on a ca­reer, which prom­ises many more high­lights and mem­o­rable mo­ments, but he is a spe­cial tal­ent a player who has re­ally ful­filled his po­ten­tial ever since he burst on the scene as a seven­teen -year old. Like Pádraig Boyle at the other end he al­most in­evitably de­liv­ers, es­pe­cially on the big oc­ca­sions.

Lix­naw got the bet­ter start, Con­way’s goal after PJ Gor­man had ini­tially de­nied him with a su­perb save from close range af­forded them an early ad­van­tage. How­ever, Pádraig Boyle was sim­ply un­playable at the other end in a va­ri­ety of sit­u­a­tions, whether it was high or low, di­ag­o­nal or oth­er­wise. Quite sim­ply, he had all of the skill set to cap­i­talise from all an­gles and dis­tances.

Maybe, Lix­naw de­lib­er­ated a lit­tle bit too long in terms of ad­dress­ing the sit­u­a­tion, but then was there any player ca­pa­ble of cur­tail­ing Bal­ly­duff’s master crafts­man?

Dar­ragh Shana­han if fully fit would have been as­signed the task and it was in­evitable that he would even­tu­ally be in­tro­duced from the bench. It stemmed the tide, to an ex­tent, but it was partly as a re­sult of the sup­ply lines be­ing cur­tailed.

John Grif­fin was prov­ing to be ex­tremely in­dus­tri­ous and ef­fec­tive in all quar­ters of the pitch, but pos­ses­sion over­all wasn’t fully trans­ferred onto the score­board with Bal­ly­duff’s rear­guard

unit prov­ing to be pretty res­o­lute and com­pact.

Level at half-time, it prob­a­bly re­flected the over­all ex­changes through­out a first half, which was com­pet­i­tive, evenly matched, but a lit­tle bit short on qual­ity re­flected by the scor­ing re­turns with both Shane Con­way and Padraig Boyle reg­is­ter­ing the bulk of the scor­ing tal­lies, for the re­spec­tive sides.

Pádraig Boyle’s sec­ond goal in the thirty fourth minute cer­tainly put a lit­tle bit of day­light be­tween the teams, a five point dif­fer­ence be­ing a pretty sig­nif­i­cant gap at this par­tic­u­lar junc­ture.

How­ever, Lix­naw were pretty com­posed and re­source­ful in terms of claw­ing back the lead, and, such was the level of their com­bi­na­tion play that, one felt that they could ex­ert a grip once again on pro­ceed­ings and re­duce the deficit on the score­board, which they did.

How­ever, such as Padraig O’Grady epit­o­mised Bal­ly­duff’s de­ter­mi­na­tion and, with Ally O’Con­nor sweep­ing up to great ef­fect, they re­gained the lead once again with Pádraig Boyle land­ing some mon­strous ef­forts from dis­tance.

Jack Gould­ing and Mikey Boyle also chipped in with a few spec­tac­u­lar ef­forts and it looked as if Bal­ly­duff, mo­men­tar­ily were sail­ing and Lix­naw strug­gling.

Martin Stack­poole was in­stru­men­tal in terms of keep­ing his side in touch, as Bal­ly­duff en­deav­oured to add the in­sur­ance point to the three point lead which they held, with just six min­utes left.

As the clock ticked down it looked as if Lix­naw might need a goal to sal­vage the sit­u­a­tion. Two points adrift, Mike Con­way was de­nied by PJ Gor­man quite bril­liantly with a gilt-edged goal­ing chance, with James Fla­herty hav­ing his ef­fort re­bound to safety off the butt of the up­right in the en­su­ing play.

Such pas­sages of play quite of­ten prove to be hugely sig­nif­i­cant in terms of de­ter­min­ing the out­come.

At the time it looked like be­ing the last throw of the dice as far as Lix­naw were con­cerned un­til their scorer in chief con­jured up a mag­i­cal equaliser.

How the sit­u­a­tion will pan out on this com­ing Sun­day no­body re­ally knows, even if, both back­room teams should have learned from what was their sec­ond meet­ing in this year’s cham­pi­onship.

How­ever, some­times, one doesn’t have the play­ers at their dis­posal to rec­tify any par­tic­u­lar weak­nesses. In terms of team selec­tion and po­si­tions on the pitch there might be a re­think on the part of Bal­ly­duff rel­a­tive to the lo­ca­tion of Jack Gould­ing, who might well be a lot more in­flu­en­tial if po­si­tioned closer to the goal.

Also con­sid­er­a­tion might be given to whether it might be bet­ter to start Liam Boyle and Gary O’Brien or keep them in re­serve. Lix­naw will be hop­ing that Dar­ragh Shana­han will be able to start as they en­deav­our to limit the ef­fec­tive­ness of Padraig Boyle, while con­sid­er­a­tion will be given to maybe start­ing ei­ther James Fla­herty, Colin Sheehy or Ja­son Wal­lace.

But, then, there was a lot to ad­mire about the en­deav­our of both Ray­mond Galvin and Jeremy McKenna last Sun­day. It’s not al­ways about the best in­di­vid­u­als, it’s ba­si­cally try­ing to se­lect fif­teen who com­ple­ment each other and play best to­gether as a unit.

Who then is it going to be, with very lit­tle likely to sep­a­rate the sides once again? Many are un­will­ing to look be­yond Bal­ly­duff when it comes to fi­nals given their im­pres­sive record in such sit­u­a­tions down the decades, but after that some­what in­dif­fer­ent semi-fi­nal per­for­mance Lix­naw were much bet­ter last week­end.

After that pro­longed break, they are now play­ing reg­u­larly once again and they might well shade the ver­dict in a re­play as in­deed they did in 2014.

There was a lot of ad­mire about the en­deav­our of both Ray­mond Gavin and Jeremy McKenna last Sun­day

Bal­ly­duff’s Mikey Boyle in ac­tion against Lix­naw’s Michael Con­way dur­ing Sun­day’s county se­nior hurl­ing fi­nal in Austin Stack Park Photo by Dom­nick Walsh / Eye Fo­cus

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