Arravale Rovers advanced to the County Senior Football Championship quarter-finals following a pulsating clash with Cahir under lights at New Inn on Friday last.
For a game that looked very much over at half-time, with the West side leading by six points and a numerical advantage in personnel, Cahir took the game to their opponents after the break, forcing extra-time, and can consider themselves desperately unlucky not to have won through at the end of the regulation hour.
But somehow Arravale survived to book their last eight place against Loughmore/Castleiney next weekend. The Tipp Town boys failed to score for 21 minutes in the second half and trailed by two points with 60 minutes on the clock. But like the proverbial bus, two points came together in the 61st and 62nd minutes to salvage a draw and force extra-time, in which they comfortably prevailed in the end.
The second last point for Arravale, scored by substitute John Bourke, was a little contentious. The ball came in high and fast from an acute angle. It was borderline. Looking up to adjudge with floodlights in the backdrop was an almost impossible call in an instant.
At another venue the decision would have been sent upstairs for Hawkeye to adjudicate. In this case only our Heavenly Hawkeye knows for sure if it was over or not. What matters was that the umpires were convinced it was.
Immediately from the kick-out Arravale gained the vital possession and worked the ball to Timmy Dalton, who took on the responsibility and scored the crucial equaliser. The final score at end of normal time was Arravale Rovers 1-13 Cahir 2-10.
The game had opened with a Darren Lowry free for Rovers, quickly cancelled by a point from young Mikey Oâ€™Connor for Cahir. Cahir had only one further score from play in the opening period, a point from Niall McKenna in the 26th minute. Their other first half points coming from a Padraig Whelan free and a Benny Hickey 45.
For most of the first period the West Tipp side were in the ascendency and were leading 0-6 to 0-2 by the 22nd minute when Robbie Kiely scored a scorcher of a goal. The centre-back ran from deep, through the middle, interchanging hand passes with two others before burying an unstoppable shot in the top corner beyond Aaron Wall.
Cahirâ€™s chances were dealt a further blow when Mikey Oâ€™Connor was dismissed three minutes before the break for a second yellow card. Trailing 1-7 to 0-4 at the half-time and a man down, prospects looked hopeless for Cahir.
Arravale further stretched that lead to 1-10 to 0-5 with early second half points from Brian Jones, Timmy Dalton and Paddy Dalton to a Cahir reply from Ryan Hennessy. The West boys were going through the motions it seemed.
However from there to the end of normal time Cahir somehow found a new lease of life and took complete control.
Four points in five minutes from Padraig Whelan (2), Liam Casey and Paddy Oâ€™Flaherty narrowed the gap. But better was to come.
Benny Hickey took on the Rovers defence almost single handedly and soloed through the middle to blast a great goal for Cahir in the 46th minute and two minutes later a penalty scored by substitute Shane Murphy had Cahir ahead for the first time by 2-9 to 1-11.
Benny Hickey with another point doubled Cahirâ€™s lead to two and only a late late Lazarus-like intervention from John Bourke and Timmy Dalton saved Roversâ€™ skins.
Just at the end Paddy Oâ€™Flaherty was dismissed for a second yellow so Cahir ended the game with only 13 players.
More worrying for Cahir was that Robbie Costigan was forced off late in normal time with a serious facial injury.
In extra-time Cahir only had one score, a goal from Tipp minor Liam Casey, who had a fine game, but it did nothing but stem a tide with Arravale adding 10 points of their own.
In the end the better team were deserving, albeit fortunate, winners by 1-23 to 3-10.
For Arravale Paddy Dalton, the Mulhairs, Robbie Kiely, Darren Lowry, Brian Jones, Bryan Lowry and Timmy Dalton caught the eye.
For Cahir, who won many admirers with their spirted fightback, the likes of Gerard Hally, Robbie Costigan, Liam Casey, James McGrath, Paddy Oâ€™Flaherty, Benny Hickey and Aidan Casey all had their moments.
In this do-or-die encounter 11 yellows and two double yellows were shown in what was a testing game to referee with a lot going on at times. Brian Tyrrell was always in control and made the big calls when they had to be made.
Arravale Rovers: Brian Glasheen, John Hayes, Peter Mulhair, Pearse Richardson, Robbie Kiely (1-0), Ger Mulhair, Shane Leahy, Donagh Leahy (0-3), Darren Lowry (0-3F), Brian Jones (0-2), Patrick Bourke, Michael Oâ€™Dwyer, Bryan Lowry (0-3), Timmy Dalton (0-9, 0-4F), Paddy Dalton (0-2).
Subs: Ciaran Lowry for Richardson; David Cleary for Bourke; Damien Kiely for Oâ€™Dwyer; John Bourke (0-1) for D. Leahy; Stephen Quinn for Cleary; Roger Oâ€™Connor for Hayes (ET); D. Leahy for D. Kiely (ET).
Cahir: Aaron Wall, Niall McKenna (0-1), Ryan Hennessy (0-1), Gerard Hally, Sean Oâ€™Connor, Robbie Costigan, Dean Lonergan, Liam Casey (1-1), Eddie Kendrick, James McGrath, Paddy Oâ€™Flaherty (0-1), Mikey Oâ€™Connor (0-1), Padraig Whelan (0-3, 0-1F), Benny Hickey (1-2, 0-1â€™45), Johnny McMahon.
Subs: Shane Murphy (1-0) for McMahon (back for extra-time); Aidan Casey for Hennessy (back for extra-time); Liam Meehan for Lonergan; Lonergan for Robbie Costigan (inj); Ian Flannery for Meehan (ET).
Ref: Brian Tyrrell (Clonmel Commercials).
Before play a minuteâ€™s silence was poignantly observed for the late Richie Boyle, Redmondstown and Ardfinnan.
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.