Eire Og, Anacarty 1-17;
A red letter day this for Eire Og Anacarty who stunned red hot favourite, Borris-Ileigh with an injury time goal by sub Michael McGrath for victory in the county senior hurling 4th round at Cashel on Saturday afternoon.
Few gave the beaten West finalists much chance against their vaunted opponents but in as dramatic a finish as one could imagine, McGrath punished some indecisive Borris defending to kick home a winning goal that sent Anacarty fans into raptures and left the Borris contingent bewildered.
Eire Og’s reward for this memorable victory is a quarter-final clash with North champions, Portroe this week-end which means they have little time to savour this glorious moment. However, having taken such a significant scalp, they will face their next outing with great confidence, buoyed by an excellent second half showing when playing into the fresh breeze.
When Borris reached half-time only one point adrift, 0-10 to 0-11, they looked well placed to push on afterwards for the win that was generally expected. Granted they had not set the scene alight in the opening half, and relied heavily on Brendan Maher’s accuracy from frees for their scores (he scored eight of their points, seven from frees), but the expectation was that with the elements in their favour, they would have enough quality in their side to see them through.
Eire Og had other ideas. They played a lot of smart hurling in the first half and ought to have been further ahead at the break but some slack finishing cost them scores, and they were also seriously penalised for fouling, as Brendan Maher’s seven strikes from placed balls indicates.
Furthermore, while Borrs relied heavily on Brendan Maher for their scores, Dan McCormack (2) and Benny Harkin were their other scorers, Eire Og had seven marksmen as they racked up their eleven points, Conor O Brien (3), Padraig O Dwyer (3), Damian O’Brien, Brian Fox, Jeremiah Furlong, Donal O’Dwyer and Dan Hogan, with only two points from frees by Padraig O’Dwyer.
Eire Og were more “up” for the contest as Borris stuttered along in a rather low-key first half. Yet, a one point lead at the break seemed insufficient to carry Eire Og through with Borris expected to raise their tempo on resuming.
Benny Harkin, one of Borris’ better players, levelled inside a minute, and a Brendan Maher free two minutes later had them ahead. The third quarter was a lively affair with three Padraig O’Dwyer points (all frees) and another by Damian O’Brien having Eire Og level with Borris entering the final quarter, Borris’ scores coming from Brendan Maher, Vincent Stapleton and Mark Bourke.
Eire Og got a huge boost when goalkeeper Darragh Mooney pointed a free from well inside his own half in the 48th minute and then stopped a rasper from Brendan Maher before Kevin Fox extended Eire Og’s lead to two points in the 54th minute.
Borris had Brendan Maher, who dominated from midfield in the first half, operating in attack with the breeze, but county colleague Conor O’Brien was doing an excellent job of policing him, though Maher was still the dangerman. Eire Og were hanging on as Borris began to appreciate the precariousness of their situation, In the 57th minute Brendan Maher pointed for them after he was fouled bearing down on goal, and two minutes late he tied the game with his 11th point.
As injury time loomed it looked as though extra time would have to be played but in an upfield break by Eire Og, Borris’ defence was hesitant in dealing with the threat and when the ball fell to sub Michael McGrath, in the 61st minute, the Eire Og man kicked it home from close range for as important a goal as he is likely to score in his career.
Eire Og were elated; Borris were devastated, and the North reps had no time to recover, referee Martin Ryan blew time on their championship aspirations for 2012.
Let there be no mistake about it – the better side won. Eire Og were the more competitive all through and backed that hunger with some quality hurling. This win should give them self-belief as they face North champions, Portroe this week-end. While McGrath’s late strike earned him hero status, the win would not have come about without the influence of such as Tom and Brian Fox, Richard Ryan, goalie Darragh Mooney, the excellent Conor O’Brien, Damian O’Brien and the O’Dwyers. All stood tall when the chips were down and they got their reward.
Borris were shattered by the outcome but have only themselves to blame. Too many of their side failed to reach championship tempo in their individual performances, and in the second half they squandered several gilt-edged point chances – lapses that cost them dearly. Brendan Maher did his utmost to drive them forward and was the best player on the field. Benny Harkin, Dan McCormack, Philip Maher and Paddy Stapleton also did their bit but overall, it was a sub-standard display and was duly punished.
Scorers for Eire Og – P O’Dwyer(0-6, 5fs); C O’Brien(0-3), M McGrath(1-0), D O’Brien(0-2). D Mooney(f), B Fox, D Hogan, K Fox, J Furlong, D O’Dwyer(0-1) each;
Borris-Ileigh scorers – B Maher(0-11, 9fs), B Harkin(0-3), P Stapleton, M Bourke, D McCormack(0-1) each;
Eire Og – Darragh Mooney; Philip McGrath, Richard Ryan, Michael O’Dwyer; Brian Fox, Eoin Kennedy, Tom Fox; Conor O’Brien, Dan Hogan; Donal O’Dwyer, Kevin Fox, Jeremiah Furlong; Seanie Ryan, Padraig O’Dwyer, Damian O’Brien; Subs- Michael McGrath for Furlong; Paul Downey for S Ryan;
Borris-Ileigh – Jody Harkin; Rory Kinane, Philip Maher, Sean Maher; Martin Maher, Paddy Stapleton, Sean McCormack; Brendan Maher, Thomas Fahy; Mark Bourke, Dan McCormack, Paidi Stapleton; Keith Ryan, Vincent Stapleton, Benny Harkin; Subs- Seamus Bourke for Fahey; David O’Connor for Paidi Stapleton; Matt Stapleton for Ryan;
Ref – Martin Ryan, Moyne-Templetuohy