Craanford come back against all odds
AGAINST ALL the odds Craanford fought back to claim victory over Geraldine O'Hanrahans in Bree on Saturday last and remain in contention for a place in the last eight of The Courtyard Ferns Intermediate hurling championship.
The Gorey District side trailed by a point heading into the second-half and faced the daunting prospect of pushing on for victory against a strong breeze. However, without a championship win to their name, Craanford showed great resolve to run out convincing winners and set up a winner-takes-all clash with Askamore in Ferns on Sunday evening.
The eventual winners started brightly and, with John Fleming bang on form, eased into a 0-6 to 0-3 lead after 20 minutes. However, they had received an early warning when Derek Finn was forced to save from Matt Crowdle, but there was nothing the Craanford 'keeper could do to deny Eoin Kelly when he was played into the clear by Ronan Carroll five minutes before the break.
A one-point interval lead (1-5 to 0-7) became two upon the resumption when Kelly picked up his fifth point. Yet it was Craanford who began to make all the running and were level, through Fleming, within five minutes.
Mark Purcell was called into action to deny a marauding Matthew Kenny but Craanford did edge ahead again when Fleming added his eighth point shortly after his side were awarded a questionable line ball.
A one-point lead morphed into a seven-point advantage within a three-minute spell at the beginning of the final quarter as two quick goals killed off the New Ross challenge. A solo run through the heart of the Geraldine's defence allowed Shane Kavanagh to grab his team's first major before Fleming topped his superb individual performance with a clinical finish of his own (2-10 to 1-6).
Three of the next four points went to the Rossonians but when they really needed a goal to get themselves back into the contest the Craanford defence did well to tip Mick Cleere's 20-metre free over the crossbar.
Matthew Nolan and Fleming pointed late on to seal victory and set up next weekend's massive clash, while their opponents are now left with just the slimmest of chances of avoiding a relegation battle.
Craanford: Derek Finn; Joe Berney, Stevie Greene, Michael Shortle; Michael O'Loughlin, Niall Berney, James Byrne; James O'Loughlin, Matthew Kenny; Matthew Nolan (0-2), Michael Lyons, Peter Kavanagh (0-1); John Fleming (1-10, 0-9 frees), Shane Kavanagh (1-0), Kevin Poole. Subs. - Desmond Kavanagh for P. Kavanagh, John Lancaster for O'Loughlin.
Geraldine O'Hanrahans: Mark Purcell; Dylan Egan, John Donovan, James Ryan; Robert Donovan, Gary Hill, Ronan Carroll; Stephen Somers, Jimmy Goggins (0-1); David Crowdle, Conor Cleere, Danny Conway; Eoin Kelly (1-6, 0-5 frees), Mark Rellis, Matt Crowdle (0-1). Subs. - Dave McCarthy for J. Donovan, Mick Cleere (0-1 free) for Rellis, Niall Hickey for Somers.
Referee: Nicholas Kehoe (Cloughbawn).