Conway wizardry seals replay for Lixnaw
IT all came down to this.
At the railway side, aiming into the Mitchels’ end. Sixty two minutes on the clock. One point in arrears. The ball placed carefully on the sideline to facilitate the best possible connection.
That he’d probably done it before countless times in training or on his own out on the pitch in Lixnaw helped, of course it did, but in moments like this practice can only carry you so far.
At a certain point it’s down to bottle and nerve and no little inspiration. Qualities Shane Conway has in abundance. Nobody had any right to expect him to deliver the moment of magic that he did, but deliver it he did and, outside of Ballyduff, nobody was much complaining.
From a neutral’s point of view this was a final to savour. A final nobody wanted to end and, thanks to the wizardry of Conway, it didn’t. Next weekend’s replay will be the hottest ticket in town. It’ll do well to live up to the drawn encounter.
Right from the off there was a frisson of something special in the air. The 3,928 people in attendance sensed it. With it there was a certain amount of tension about as both teams found their way into the game.
Pádraig Boyle and John Griffin swapped early scores and, then on two minutes, a goal for Shane Conway exploded the game to life. A mix up in the Ballyduff defence allowed him free and, despite PJ O’Gorman saving his initial effort, he wasn’t to be denied on the rebound.
The goal clearly stung Ballyduff, who responded in a brilliant fashion. Pádraig
Boyle got their next score and, while Shane Conway followed up his early goal with an expertly taken free, Ballyduff were about to hit a purple patch.
Boyle delivered another two scores (one from play, one from a free) to bring Ballyduff back to within a single score by the eleventh minute of the match. Just a little over a minute later Ballyduff had wrestled back control of the game to lead by two following a penalty by Pádraig Boyle.
Young Jack O’Sullivan had picked out Aidan Boyle who was fouled for the penalty. Pádraig’s finish, low, hard and emphatic, completed a remarkable turnaround (of five points) in fortunes in less than ten minutes.
That was the thing about this game, it never got too far out of balance. In the wake of Boyle’s penalty, Lixnaw reasserted a level of control. A long-range Brendan Brosnan free on eighteen minutes got them back up and running.
By the twenty third minute Lixnaw had forced their way back to parity, outscoring their rivals three points to two over the next five minutes (1-6 to 1-6). From there to the end of the half the game assumed a tit-for-tat pattern.
Shane Conway gave Lixnaw the lead again on twenty four minutes. On twenty five minutes Jack O’Sullivan responded for Ballyduff. Into time added on both Conway and Boyle pointed further frees to make it 1-8 each at half-time.
By now the management teams were doing what they could to curb the other’s danger man. The Ballyduff brains-trust moved Paud Costello onto Conway, while at the other end Lixnaw opted to spring Darragh Shanahan from the bench to tackle Boyle.
Both management teams would have been keenly aware that there’s only so much you can do. It’s about damage-limitation when these guys are on song the way they were on Sunday afternoon as the second half would prove.
Inside the first three minutes of the second half Boyle had taken three scores – two frees and a goal from play. Boyle took an assist from his brother Aidan before unleashing a powerful effort on thirty three minutes.
Martin Stackpoole did well to get a hurl to the ball, but such was the ferocity with which Boyle struck it that it, nevertheless, ended up in the back of the net. Ballyduff now had a four point lead 2-10 to 1-9 (a point from play by John Buckley got the half underway).
Once again this game’s self-correcting mechanism kicked into gear. In response to Ballyduff opening out a four point advantage, Lixnaw hit four of their own on-the-bounce – two from Shane Conway (including a free) and one each from Raymond Galvin and the hard-working Jeremy McKenna.
Ballyduff scored next through Jack Goulding who was really coming into his own in the second half and Michael Conway after that again to make it 2-11 to 1-14 with just a little under a quarter of an hour to go.
By the fiftieth minute it was still all square – Mikey Boyle and Shane Conway exchanged scores – but Ballyduff
were about to assume control over the game once more with three points in as many minutes.
Two came courtesy of Pádraig Boyle (a free and a sixty five) and the third and final score of that burst came courtesy of Jack Goudling. Remarkably that was the last time Ballyduff would score in the game.
At that stage, with less than ten to go and a three point lead theirs, it was looking hugely encouraging for them. They even had a chance of a goal during that spell when Anthony O’Carroll assisted Jack O’Sullivan.
A last gasp tackle by Declan McCarthy saved Lixnaw’s bacon and allowed them the chance to strike back. Three points from Shane Conway (one from play, one from a sixty five and that already famous sideline cut) gave us another day out.
Both teams will be left with regrets – Michael Conway could have stolen a game-winning goal on fifty eight minutes – but at the back of it all, both teams will realise that a draw was a fair result.
All eyes turn to the replay.
BALLYDUFF: PJ O’Gorman, Ally O’Connor, Padraig O’Grady, Cathal Kearney, David Goulding, Paud Costello, Eoin Ross, Daniel O’Carroll, Anthony O’Carroll, Paul O’Carroll, Mikey Boyle (0-1), Jack O’Sullivan (0-1), Pádraig Boyle (2-11, 1-0 pen, 5f, 1 ‘65), Aidan Boyle, Jack Goulding (0-2) Subs: Liam Boyle for P O’Carroll, half-time, Gary O’Brien for A Boyle, 51, Thomas Slattery for J O’Sullivan, 51, A Boyle for L Boyle, 57
LIXNAW: Martin Stackpoole, Declan McCarthy, Pat Corridan, Gerald Stackpoole, Brendan Brosnan (0-1f), Stephen Power, Conor O’Keeffe, John Griffin (0-1), Brian McAuliffe (0-1), John Buckley (0-1), Jeremy McKenna (0-1), Raymond Galvin (0-1), Michael Conway (0-2), Ricky Heffernan, Shane Conway (1-10, 4f, 2 ‘65, 1 sideline) Subs: Darragh Shanahan for G Stackpoole, 24, Jason Wallace for R Heffernan (inj), half-time, James Flaherty for R Galvin, 46, Colin Sheehy for J McKenna, 55
REFEREE: Johnny Murphy (Limerick)