Goalkeeper Ronan Tucker should be the pride of Burgess as it was his brilliant save which insured that Burgess remained in Roinn I of the FBD Insurance County Senior Hurling Championship following their two-point relegation play-off win over neighbours Portroe after the sides met in an exciting contest at Dolla last Sunday afternoon.
FBD Insurance County Senior Hurling
Championship Relegation Play-Off
Burgess 1-18 Portroe 1-16
Tucker was brave when he stood his ground to face Robert Byrne who won possession on the right wing and got past his marker before shooting from close range, but he couldn’t believe his eyes as Tucker got a stick to the flying sliothar and deflected it out for a '65.
Many might argue that Byrne should have done better by choosing to place his shot low instead of at chest height which made life a little easier for the Burgess custodian, but it should never have come down to that as Burgess, who were the clear favourites, looked good enough to win when they led by six points as the game passed the hour mark.
They began impressively in the opening ten minutes as they scored four points through Johnny Mulqueen, Bill O’Flaherty and Stephen Murray (two).
Donagh Maher was in excellent form as he cut off the Portroe threat with frequency and Johnny Mulqueen was in form too.
There were exactly ten minutes gone before Portroe secured their first score through John Sheedy (free) and the score was the first of three unanswered points with Mark Gennery and Kevin O’Halloran also on target.
A close-in free from Keith Nealon was matched by a Kevin O’Halloran score before midfielder James Ryan had the teams level after nineteen minutes and the same player gave Port the lead three minutes later.
Following a foul on Bill O’Flaherty Stephen Murray equalised, but John Sheedy gave Port the lead for the second time when pointing another free after Gennery was fouled before Gennery himself doubled the lead in the 27th minute.
Portroe should have increased their advantage, but two long-range efforts drifted wide before Burgess responded in the best way possible as Danny Ryan sent the ball to the Portroe net.
Aidan Willis levelled before John Sheedy gave Port the lead with the teams retiring to the dressing rooms and Portroe leading 0-10 to 1-6.
It took Burgess all of five minutes to take the lead as Stephen Murray pointed twice, the second from a free. John Sheedy replied with an equalising free before Stephen Murray edged Burgess in front and then Danny Ryan doubled their lead in the 39th minute.
Murray increased his free-taking tally before John Sheedy respondede while the excellent Stephen Murray moved Burgess four in front thanks to a second sideline ball.
Approaching the 50th minute, Burgess continued to look comfortable and Johnny Mulqueen moved them five in front.
Another Sheedy free cut the margin to four in the 54th minute, but Murray was on hand to keep Burgess at arm’s length a minute later.
The game was becoming a battle between John Sheedy and Stephen Murray as Sheedy reduced the margin to four with his latest free with a minute remaining. Murray responded with a similar score and in the opening minute of additional time it was Keith Nealon who moved Burgess six clear.
There was another eight minutes of additional time to play and Portroe used the time well as Sheedy narrowed the gap with another free before Mark Gennery put the game back in the melting pot after getting the better of his marker to score a goal in the 66th minute.
Sheedy reduced the margin to one with another free, but Burgess upped the ante as Murray pointed his ninth after Bill O’Flaherty was fouled. There was nine extra minutes played, but play continued and it was then that Robert Byrne won possession on the Burgess twenty-metre line before sweeping round his man and taking a shot only to see Tucker deny him.
Best for Burgess were Donagh Maher, Johnny Mulqueen and Tadgh O’Halloran as Shane Maher produced another great display in front of his excellent 'keeper Ronan Tucker. Stephen Murray had another good day as did Bill O’Flaherty with Keith Nealon, Tony Dunne and Stephen Kirwan playing their part.
Portroe didn’t go down without a fight as one has come to expect. Colm Gleeson had a great first half with Michael Creamer excellent at corner-back alongside Michael Breen who had a great battle with Bill O’Flaherty. James Ryan was prominent while Mark Gennery had his moments alongside Aidan Willis and Kevin O’Halloran.
Burgess: Ronan Tucker, Kieran Ryan, Shane Maher, Pat Woods, Johnny Mulqueen (0-2), Donagh Maher, Tadgh O’Halloran, Willie Ryan, Jack O’Flaherty (0-1), Stephen Murray (0-9, 0-3 frees, 0-2 sidelines), Tony Dunne (0-1), Danny Ryan (1-1), Keith Nealon (0-2, 0-1 frees), Bill O’Flaherty (0-2), Stephen Kirwan. Subs: Eoin Hogan for D Ryan (48th).
Portroe: Darren Gleeson, Michael Creamer, Christopher O’Riordan, Michael Breen, Colm Gleeson, Robert Byrne, Brian Keating, James Ryan (0-2), Jimmy Creamer, Mark Gennery (1-2), John Sheedy (0-9, 0-9 frees), Aidan Willis (0-1), Kevin O’Halloran (0-2), Ruadhan Mulrooney, David Lumbrosa. Subs: Conor O’Brien for O’Riordan (3rd), Jack Moloney for J Ryan (48th), Paddy O’Flaherty for Lumbrosa (56th), Cormac Keating for Mulrooney (56th), Conor Byrne for C O’Brien (64th).
Referee: Philip Kelly (Ballinahinch).