AN injury-time point from the impressive Luke Blood earned Good Counsel a deserved share of the spoils.
GOOD COUNSEL 4-8
ST MARK'S 2-14
It was an entertaining 4-8 to 2-14 draw with St Mark's in their Dublin IHC Group B encounter on the Galtymore Road last Saturday.
David O'Callaghan looked to have secured victory for the visitors when converting a 61st-minute free but Blood had the final word, firing over from close range with the last puck of the game to confirm the more equitable conclusion.
Mark's may well feel more disappointed with the final result given that they held the lead for the bulk of the game, but Counsel's ability to plunder goals at the most opportune times ensured the tie remained in the melting pot throughout.
Player-manager Ronnie Murphy was pivotal in this regard, scoring three classy goals from full-forward with his brilliant finish in the 57th minute breathing fresh life into his side's challenge.
That his contribution was required was down to an impressive start from the visitors who opened the scoring through a long-range free from O'Callaghan in the first minute. Points followed through the lively Joey Cannon and Barry Redmond with Counsel initially struggling with the pace and movement of Mark's forward line.
However, they gradually came to grips with that challenge with full-back James Ahern and centre-back David Charles impressing and an excellent piece of play from Ahern allowed John O'Brien to open Counsel's account in the sixth minute. The visitors continued to impress through points from Redmond and Ryan Farrell but the game turned in the space of two minutes at the end of the first quarter as the hosts struck two precious goals.
The first had a degree of fortune attached to it as a lengthy delivery from Blood deceived Declan Quinn, slipping from the keeper's grasp to fall into the net, and in the 17th minute Murphy raced onto Shane Barry's pass to flick cleverly home from close range.
Karl Hoare replied for a shell-shocked Mark's but Counsel's lead was increased by the 25th minute as Blood added two points from placed balls before the visitors ended the half in fine fashion, hitting 1-3 without reply.
Cannon was instrumental during this period of play, scoring a free and laying on a pass for Farrell to point from 20 yards before O'Callaghan fired an unstoppable shot to the net in injury time to ensure a 1-9 to 2-3 interval lead for the visitors.
O'Brien traded points with Hoare within minutes of the restart and after Cannon had netted following an adventurous run, Murphy got the faintest of touches to a glorious sideline ball from the influential Ian Armstrong to revive his side's fortunes in the 38th minute.
Armstrong pointed from another sideline ball soon after but the ebb and flow was maintained as Mark's enjoyed a brief spell of supremacy, O'Callaghan adding two frees to an excellent point from play by corner-back Martin Delaney.
Murphy's third goal, an arrowed shot into the top corner, and another point from the tireless O'Brien levelled matters with those late frees by O'Callaghan and Quinn ensuring a grandstand finale.