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