Doyle saves day for Craanford
Classy Whitty leads Cloughbawn charge in drawn final
FOR LONG passages it looked like the class of Bob Whitty was going to guide Cloughbawn to the Greenstar Under-21 hurling Roinn 1 championship title.
His unerring accuracy from frees, and occasional majesty from play, had Craanford staring down the barrel of a gun as the Castleboro lads led by 0-12 to 0-8 approaching the final quarter of Saturday’s county final in St. Patrick’s Park, Enniscorthy.
But Craanford then awoke from their stupor to outscore their opponents by 0-7 to 0-3 before the end to ultimately force a replay that is sure to attract an even bigger crowd.
Their comeback began when three frees from captain Kevin Poole sandwiched Ollie Doran pouncing on a rare Cloughbawn mistake to make it 0-12 apiece with seven minutes left.
Whitty (free) nudged Cloughbawn back ahead two minutes later, only for Eoin Doyle to pop up with the equalisier soon after.
Those in attendance were at the edge of their seats now as anything was possible in an enthralling conclusion, but a push on Whitty allowed the sharpshooter to convert his tenth free as Cloughbawn led for the penultimate time (0-14 to 0-13).
And when the clock ticked into injury-time, Ollie Doran produced an absolutely outstanding leveller on the run whilst hugging the stand sideline.
Whitty looked to have the final say when his quickly taken sideline cut located wing-back Corey Bolger isolated on the far wing to point from distance.
However, Eoin Doyle proved to be the Craanford hero when he levelled matters for the third and final time well into the third minute of injury-time as two highly-committed sides must do battle again.
In truth, the first-half was far removed from the drama that succeeded it, as sporadic flash-points across the field were unfortunate side-shows to a low-key opening quarter.
One such incident yielded yellow cards for Jim Kenny and Kyle Murphy early on, although Whitty did open the scoring with a point from the far wing after 42 seconds.
The same player also caught a Craanford puck-out before returning it over the bar with interest, while his brace of frees had his side 0-4 to 0-1 to the good after six minutes.
James Smyth was a stand-out performer at the other end for the north county men, and he demonstrated his skill-set when perfectly controlling Poole’s pass on his hurl before firing over for a neat score on 17 minutes which brought Craanford to within 0-5 to 0-3.
That Smyth pearler was the only point from play for eleven minutes, a spell ended when Robert Kinsella’s booming clearance from his own half sailed all the way over to bring up the interval score of 0-9 to 0-5.
In between, Craanford ceded ground by conceding three avoidable frees, all duly taken by Whitty, with one moved closer due to dissent, and another arising from an illegal pick-up.
Craanford also brought their first-half wide count to seven with a couple of mis-cues before the break. They finished with a tally of 13 in that column, but it is certainly a fixable problem ahead of the renewal.
Nevertheless, a ‘65 from Doran and a deserved point from Martin Doyle after the re-start kept them in touch, although Bolger served forewarning of what was to come from him later with a long-range point on 39 minutes (0-11 to 0-7).
The sides’ respective top scorers also shared a point apiece as that four-point cushion remained, and there was little sign of the drama to come as the inaccuracy seemed to seep into Craanford’s psyche again with three quick-fire rash wides. But their unquestionable never-say-die attitude shone through thereafter as they plucked a share of the spoils from the embers.
Craanford: Andrew Tighe; Jack Keogh, Pat Kenny, Páraic Redmond; James Redmond, William Conroy, Jim Kenny; Eoin Doyle (0-2), Ollie Doran (0-3, 1 ‘65); Tony Kavanagh, Martin Doyle (0-1), James Smyth (0-2); Thomas Furlong, Kevin Poole (capt., 0-7, 6 frees), Cian O’Toole. Subs. - Martin Kenny for Furlong, inj. (22), Stuart Byrne for Keogh (52), also Luke Byrne, Seán Byrne, Pat Doyle, Stephen Greene.
Cloughbawn: Seán Keating; James Flood, Jack Wickham, Gareth Murphy; Corey Bolger (0-2), James Dempsey, Shane Flood, Connal Flood, Shane Greene; Kyle Murphy, Bob Whitty (0-12, 10 frees), Robert Kinsella (capt., 0-1); Daniel Dempsey, Colin Murphy, Davy Casserly. Subs. - Stevie Casserly for D. Casserly (HT), Darragh O’Connor for Greene, inj. (48), Jack Fleming for K. Murphy (56), also Michael Kavanagh, James Boland, Johnny Connors, Billy Wickham.
Referee: Philip Murphy (Faythe Harriers).
The Craanford panel before Saturday’s drawn Greenstar Under-21 hurling Roinn 1 championship decider.
The Cloughbawn squad prior to Saturday’s Greenstar Under-21 hurling Roinn 1 championship final in St. Patrick’s Park, Enniscorthy.
Bob Whitty of Cloughbawn trying to burst through the tackle of Craanford’s William Conroy.
Cloughbawn captain Robert Kinsella under pressure from Craanford duo Eoin and Martin Doyle.