Sunday 19 November 2017

Even Lazarus would have nothing on this comeback!

Cillian Matthews of Oliver Plunketts comes out best of this tussle with Andy McCann.
Cillian Matthews of Oliver Plunketts comes out best of this tussle with Andy McCann.

John Savage

DEAD and almost buried with a full 15 minutes left on the clock, Naomh Fionnbarra staged a Lazarus-like resurrection at the Gaelic Grounds on Sunday evening to dump favourites Oliver Plunketts out of the Junior Championship.

Champions in 2010, the Barrs still boast the nucleus of that team and will certainly put it up to hot favourites Hunsterstown Rovers on Sunday week.

Despite shipping 1-7 without reply at the start of the second-half they still showed enough resilience to pull an unlikely victory out of the fire in the dying minutes.

Substitute Nicholas Butterly was the hero, ghosting in at the back post from right half back to slap home a Jack Butterly centre and put his side a point up in the final minute of normal time.

As it turned out there was still four minutes to play, but Plunkett's couldn't conjure an equaliser and for the second year running bowed out at the semi-final stage.

Second best for the full 60 minutes in last year's defeat to Glen Emmets, this reversal will sting a little more for the Mell men as they cruised into a 1-10 to 1-6 lead with just 12 minutes left on the clock and with a strong breeze at their backs.

But Naomh Fionnbarra wouldn't lie down and the superb William Woods got his colleagues believing a comeback might be possible with a fine point and then an even better free from all of 50 metres.

That left two points between the sides and gave the Barrs the impetus to push on for an unlikely winner, which Butterly dispatched in the final minute of normal-time.

Perhaps mindful of the elements Finbarrs started in dtermined fashion. The sides traded the first three scores, but the green and gold kidked on with an emphatic William Woods penalty after a lift ball in the small square.

By the 27th minute their were 1-5 to 0-3 up with Woods accoutning for every single point of that tally, before Andy McCann added another before the break to make it 1-6 to 0-3.

Despite a wasteful start to the second period Plunkett's eventually found their rhythm and closed the gap to two with three points from Emmet Kelleher and one from Frank Taaffe.

And they looked home and hosed when the same two players made it 1-9 to 1-6 after substitute Gary Keogh had fired home the lead goal on 43 minutes after a quick free from Cian Matthews.

But the Barrs weren't finished and produced 1-2 without reply in the final seven minutes of normal time to complete a superb comeback.

NAOMH FIONNBARRA: Allan Matthews; Conor Leanahan, Ciaran Leanehan, Brian Sharkey; Kieran Murphy, Hugh McGrane, Paudie Butterly; John Doyle, Gary Matthews; Conor Osborne, Darren McConnen, Stuart Osborne; Jack Butterly, Andy McCann 0-1, William Woods 1-7 (0-3f). Subs: Nicholas Butterly 1-0 for G Matthews (48), Martin O'Neill for K Murphy (60+).

OLIVER PLUNKETT'S: Nathan Murphy; Cillian Matthews, Darragh Matthews, Karl Tuite; Brian Fitzpatrick 0-1, David McTaggart, Conor Papp; Sean Brassil, Rory Brodigan; Frank Taaffe 0-3 (0-1f), Emmet Kelleher 0-4 (0-1f), Cian Matthews 0-1; John Moroney, Trevor Walsh, Aaron Kirwan. Subs: Gary Keogh for C Papp (ht), Dean Carolan 0-1 for J Moroney (46), Colin O'Hanlon for A Kirwan (60+), Paddy Murtagh for T Walsh (60+).

REFEREE: Paul Finnegan.

The Argus

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