Con­way’s hat-trick cru­cial as Fr O’neill’s edge Castle­lyons

Irish Examiner - Sport - - GAA - Fr O’neill’s Castle­lyons Therese O’cal­laghan 5-17 3-20


What a game of hurl­ing in Kil­leagh last night, and what a way for Fr O’neill’s to stay in the cham­pi­onship.

They bat­tled them­selves to a stand­still, and this they had to do be­cause a dogged sec­ond­half fight­back from Castle­lyons pushed them all the way in round 2B of the Cork Pre­mier IHC.

There was drama aplenty, and there were heroes all over the field for both teams. But none more so than Eoin Con­way who bagged three firsthalf goals to give O’neill’s the best pos­si­ble start. And with Mark Mother­way adding an­other green flag, they were ab­so­lutely fly­ing. Their hurl­ing was crisp and it was played at speed. They were four goals clear com­ing up to the in­ter­val, but Ciarán Mc­gann got in for a cru­cial goal that gave Castle­lyons hope as they went to the dress­ing-room 4-11 to 111 in ar­rears.

It was a near per­fect open­ing 30 min­utes for Fr O’neill’s. From 1-15, they were all in the thick of the ac­tion, it was a mas­sive col­lec­tive dis­play. As well as the goals, there were some splen­did points es­pe­cially from Billy Dunne and Joe Mil­l­er­ick. Castle­lyons never got out of sec­ond gear, and when they did switch Colm Barry back to his reg­u­lar num­ber three po­si­tion it was too late.

Colm Spil­lane lined out at mid­field and did tro­jan work for Castle­lyons. How­ever, they had a mountain to climb com­ing out for the sec­ond­half, and when Billy Dunne net­ted af­ter a mere 30 sec­onds, it looked game over. How­ever, af­ter play­ing sec­ond fid­dle for so long, they upped the ante.

Barry was out­stand­ing in de­fence, and a run of 1-5 made it a five-point match 10 min­utes into the sec­ond-half – the goal bril­liantly fin­ished by Alan Fen­ton. But then the game was robbed of one of its out­stand­ing play­ers when Billy Dunne had to be stretchered off, the Cork U21 player suf­fered what ap­peared to be a se­ri­ous leg in­jury.

When play re­sumed Mc­gann was on hand again to bil­low the net and with a quar­ter of an hour re­main­ing, Castle­lyons were right back in the game, 3-16 to 5-13, just three points sep­a­rat­ing these two fine teams. The fi­nal quar­ter pro­duced one of the most dra­matic fin­ishes with plenty of en­ergy and spirit dis­played by both sides.

Dal­ton then stretched the lead to six points but the ques­tion was could Fr O’neill’s hold out? Four straight scores from An­thony Spil­lane (3) and Jack Barry cut the gap to two points – the clos­est they had been all night, and de­spite sev­eral late ral­lies Castle­lyons could not get the equal­is­ing flags.

In the sev­enth minute of in­jury time Con­way sent over a point much to the re­lief of O’neill’s. De­spite a late red card to John Barry that re­duced them to 14 men, they held out. For Castle­lyons, who are now out of the cham­pi­onship, it was a case of so near and yet so far.

Scor­ers for Fr O’neill’s: E Con­way (33), B Dunne (1-3), D Dal­ton (0-4, 0-3 frees), M Mother­way (1-0), J Mil­l­er­ick (03), K O’sul­li­van (0-2), L O’driscoll and S O’con­nor (0-1 each).

Scor­ers for Castle­lyons: C Mc­gann (20), M Spil­lane (0-6, 0-2 65s, 0-2 frees), Fen­ton (1-1), A Spil­lane (0-4, 0-1 free), C Spil­lane and A O’sul­li­van (0-3 each), N O’leary (free), E Maye and J Barry (0-1 each).

Fr O’neill’s: P Higgins; P But­ler, B Mur­phy, M Mil­l­er­ick; J Barry, A Ken­neally, D Har­ring­ton; C Brod­er­ick, J Mil- ler­ick; S O’con­nor, M Mother­way, D Dal­ton; B Dunne, K O’sul­li­van, E Con­way.

Subs: L O’driscoll for K O’sul­li­van (37), E Mother­way for B Dunne (43 inj), P Mcma­hon for M Mother­way (49).

Castle­lyons: S O’sul­li­van; B Car­roll, C Barry, T Car­roll; R Feeney, C Spil­lane, N O’leary; E Maye, D Varner; D Lawlor, C Mc­gann, A O’sul­li­van; A Fen­ton, A Spil­lane, M Spil­lane.

Subs: R Brans­field for D Lawlor, J Barry for R Feeney (both half-time), K O’leary for M Spil­lane (57).

Ref­eree: Ger Scully (Kil­leagh).

Picture: John Hen­nessy

Cil­lian Brod­er­ick, Fr.o’neills, keeps the ball de­spite the best ef­forts of Colm Spil­lan and Dar­ragh Lawlor, Castle­lyons, in round 2B of the Pre­mier In­ter­me­di­ate Hurl­ing Cham­pi­onship at Pairc Ui Chin­neide, Kil­leagh, last night.

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