Con­way wiz­ardry seals re­play for Lix­naw

The Kerryman (Tralee Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - DAMIAN STACK

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)

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