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Murphy goal vital as Pat’s survive after extra-time

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THE RELIEF among St. Patrick’s connections upon the full-time whistle at Páirc Uí Shíochaín in Gorey was palpable as they preserved their Joyces Expert Intermediate ‘A’ football championship status for another year.

They needed extra-time to secure a 2-14 to 2-13 victory over Gorey District rivals Kilanerin in Sunday’s relegation final that got better the longer it went on.

And Ciarán Murphy was the St. Patrick’s hero, as his coolly-finished side-footed goal a minute into the second additional period proved to be the crucial score, with Kilanerin’s subsequent search for at least parity coming up just short despite their best efforts.

Conor Byrne opened the losers’ account with a good point on two minutes, with top scorer Lee Owley doubling their tally by the sixth minute.

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St. Patrick’s had already posted three wides by the time Thomas Morris got them up and running, while a last-ditch intervention from James Cousins sparked a move finished by Morris to level proceedings after twelve minutes.

A heavy challenge on John Doyle allowed Murphy to tap over the free for a 0-3 to 0-2 lead at the first water break, with a more methodical Kilanerin responding with a point from Ben Morris when play resumed.

However, St. Patrick’s were boosted when a hanging delivery from Michael O’Brien towards the car-park goal was met by the fist of Hughie Doyle as he bravely beat out-rushing goalkeeper Stephen Hughes to the punch.

Patsy Fortune pegged a point back for Kilanerin, and while Murphy converted another free, Conor Hughes’ ball to the back post broke off Conor Byrne and Owley slid the rebound to the net to make it 1-4 apiece at half-time.

Morris was the star performer after the break, hitting three top-drawer points for the eventual victors, including two in the third quarter as things remained delicately poised at the second water break (1-8 apiece).

The lively Joe Curtis also fired over a quickfire brace, and the game’s turning point arrived on 40 minutes when Byrne was pushed over in the process of shooting, but Owley hit the resultant penalty wide via the framework. Still, he put that miss to the back of his mind by converting a free when play recommenced, and also landed another one five minutes from time after Jim Hughes drew on every ounce of his experience to win it.

That edged Kilanerin 1-10 to 1-9 ahead, only for substitute Alan Murphy to herald extra-time with the equalising point with his first touch.

A Conor Hughes goal and two Owley efforts from play meant Kilanerin held sway by 2-12 to 1-13 at the end of the first additional period, with that all-important Murphy goal arriving on the restart.

John Doyle followed with what proved to be the insurance score, but not before Owley cut the gap to the minimum in a frantic finish as gritty St. Patrick’s just about avoided a second relegation for the year after their hurling team’s earlier demotion from the same grade.

St. Patrick’s: Ashley Tully; James Cousins, Joe Cousins, Brian Murphy; Michael O’Brien (joint capt.), Michael Carroll (joint capt.), Ollie Gahan; Dermot O’Leary, John Doyle (0-1); Ciarán Murphy (1-4, 0-4 frees), Peter Roche, Conor O’Leary; Thomas Morris (0-6), Cian Hogan, Hughie Doyle (1-0). Subs. - Daryl Murphy (0-2) for C. O’Leary (45), Alan Murphy (0-1) for Hogan (60).

Kilanerin: Stephen Hughes; Conor Jones, Lorcan Clare (capt.), Cillian O’Toole; Seán Bardon (0-1), Aidan Jones, Ben Morris (0-1); Niall Breen, Tom Mordaunt; Conor Byrne (0-2), Conor Hughes (1-0), Joe O’Sullivan; Joe Curtis (0-2), Lee Owley (1-6, 0-2 frees), Patsy Fortune (0-1). Subs. - Jim Hughes for O’Sullivan (HT), Patrick O’Connor for Fortune (47), Denis Jones for J. Hughes (70). Sin-bin: Joe Curtis (59).

Referee: James Owens (Kilrush).


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