Egan conjures late extra-time Saints goal to stun Abbeydorney
County SHC Round 1: St Brendans 1-21 Abbeydorney 1-19 (after extra-time)
A pulsating first round tie last Saturday was concluded in pretty dramatic circumstances when ace opportunist John Egan struck for a match winning goal in the dying seconds of a contest that took extra-time to decide the outcome.
It was certainly a result that didn't look likely for long periods, with St Brendans completely at odds with the situation, and having trailed by eight points at half time they didn't look like they had the capability at that stage to salvage the situation.
On reflection, Abbeydorney will deliberate and agonise over the manner in which they let the game slip from their grasp, as they were the superior side for long periods, but they failed to capitalise with a few gilt-edged goal opportunities which, if converted, might well have brought a different result.
Abbeydorney imposed their presence on proceedings from the outset, and registering some delightful scores from distance they led by 0-6 to 0-0 at the end of the opening quarter. Briefly St Brendans got to grips with the situation and narrowed the gap to 0-6 to 0-2 by the 18th minute.
Indeed, they were just 0-7 to 0-4 adrift eight minutes later after David Griffin had been denied a good goal scoring chance, but O'Dorney finished the half with a flourish, scoring five unanswered points in as many minutes to stretch their advantage to 0-12 to 0-4 by half time.
Such was the influence of Abbeydorney's half back line, along with the impact of Michael O'Leary up front, who scored four first half points from play, that it was difficult to see St Brendans overhauling the deficit. The Ardfert side restarted with greater urgency, and with Nathan O'Driscoll making an impact and scoring successive points, they reduced the deficit to 0-13 to 0-7 within five minutes of the restart.
However, Abbeydorney were always able to respond, and PJ Keane's point restored a seven-point cushion. With just eight minutes of the half elapsed they created a clear-cut goal chance, but Adam Maunsell with space in which to manouver dragged his shot wide across the face of the goal. It was a let off for St Brendans who could have been facing a pretty unassailable 10-point gap.
O'Dorney were still six points to the good, 0-15 to 0-9, entering the final quarter but with Kevin Hannifin and Darren Dineen picking up the pace of proceedings, St Brendans mantained a period of sustained pressure, and five successive points meant they were just 0-15 to 0-14 behind by the 52nd minute.
Keane's free doubled O'Dorney's advantage, which increased to three points when Mike Slattery's goal-bound shot was deflected over the bar by goalkeeper Delaney.
With James O'Connor continuing to provide a significant input for Abbeydorney it looked as if they might still prevail but Seamus O'Halloran, off the bench, proved to be an inspired substitution for St Brendans, and two points from him took the game to extra-time. Using his pace to telling effect young O'Halloran added another point within four minutes of the restart, but a goal from PJ Keane when he reacted to a rebound off the upright pushed O'Dorney back into pole position with just two points, 1-17 to 0-18, seperating the teams at the end of the first period.
A John Egan free reduced the deficit to the minimum within two minutes of the restart, and again Delaney came to St Brendans rescue with another point-blank save from Micheal Slattery. Level 1-18 to 0-21 as the encounter drifted into added time, Keane's converted free looked as if it might decide the outcome with seconds left.
It was last chance saloon for the Saints, and when a long delivery found Egan isolated in a one-on-one situation the opportunity of an equalising point presented itself.
Displaying all of the characteristics that have elevated him to the top of the pile as far as finishers are concerned in this competition, Ardfert's master craftsman dispatched the sliotar with clinical efficiency to the top corner of the net for what proved to be very much a golden goal. It left O'Dorney on their knees at the end of what was for them a heartbreaking loss.
St Brendans: Darren Delaney, Fiachra Ennis, Stephen Leen, Fionan Horgan, Kevin Orpen, Kevin Hannifin (0-2), Darren Dineen (0-1), Padraig Kearney, David Griffin (0-1), Cian Hussey, John Egan (1-3; 0-2f), Tom Moloney (0-1), Nathan O'Driscoll (0-2), Tim Hannafin (0-6, 4f, 1 '65'), Breandain O'Connor (0-2). Subs: Killian Woulfe for F Ennis, Seamus O'Halloran (0-3) for K Orpen, Kieran Fitzgerald for T Moloney, Jerry Wallace for T Hannafin, Tom Moloney for K Fitzgerald, Daniel Finnegan for C Hussey.
Abbeydorney: Sean Holden, Shane Donovan, Stephen Egan, Eoin Egan, Kieran Dineen, James O'Connor (0-1), Stephen O'Sullivan, (0-3), Ronan Donovan, Adam Maunsell, Brian O'Leary (0-1), Michael Slattery (0-1), Jack Parker, Keith O'Connor, (0-2), Michael O'Leary (0-4), PJ Keane (1-7; 0-6 f). Subs: Mike Hannafin for K O'Connor, Aidan Healy for E Egan, Niall O'Connell for J Parker, Keith O'Connor for A Maunsell, Colm McCarthy for K O'Connor, Eoin O'Connor for K Dineen.
Referee: Donnacha O'Callaghan (Limerick)
The Game in 60 seconds
There wasn't a player on either side who excelled for the duration. Michael O'Leary, Stephen O'Sullivan, James O'Connor and PJ Keane had productive periods for O'Dorney as did Darren Dineen, Kevin Hannifin, Seamus O'Halloran and Stephen Leen for St Brendans. However Darren Delaney's two superb saves had the biggest impact on the outcome.
Undoubtedly the match winning goal which decided the outcome. It might well have been of academic interest only, but for the heroics of the St Brendans custodian Darren Delaney. Goals, if secured on both occasions, could well have altered the landscape considerably in terms of the final outcome.
The significance, if any, of these first round fixtures. There is a second chance for the losers, and while some might feel that the results of these opening games won't have any meaningful impact as to who will eventually win the competition, the exchanges and intensity in this game suggested that both teams certainly wanted to avoid the back door.