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Liam’s late point saves the day

Kavanagh free sends Junior ‘C’ final to a replay

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Kiltegan captain Liam Kavanagh, referee Paul Gahan and Aughrim captain David Whitty.

Kiltegan captain Liam Kavanagh, referee Paul Gahan and Aughrim captain David Whitty.

The Kiltegan hurlers who drew with Aughrim in the Junior ‘C’ hurling championship final in Aughrim.

The Kiltegan hurlers who drew with Aughrim in the Junior ‘C’ hurling championship final in Aughrim.

The Aughrim hurlers who will take on Kiltegan in the Junior ‘C’ hurling championship final replay.

The Aughrim hurlers who will take on Kiltegan in the Junior ‘C’ hurling championship final replay.

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Kiltegan captain Liam Kavanagh, referee Paul Gahan and Aughrim captain David Whitty.

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Kiltegan captain Liam Kavanagh saved the day for his side when he fired over a late equalising free to send this thoroughly entertaining Junior ‘C’ hurling final against Aughrim to a replay after sharpshooter Ian Clancy had put the Granite City men ahead deep into injury time in the County Grounds in Aughrim.

Kiltegan would have one more chance in the dying seconds of this competitive clash but substitute Liam Kennedy would drag his attempt across the face of the Aughrim goal and fail to avail of what was at best a half chance to break the hearts of the men managed by his former Carnew Emmets teammate Emmet O’Sullivan.

With hurling enjoying a wonderful revival in Kiltegan, and Aughrim, although beset by injuries and missing the likes of Robert Lambert, working hard at all levels to promote and improve the game, this decider promised a serious battle and that is exactly what unfolded.

Kiltegan got the dream start when a loose Aughrim sideline ball found its way to Seanie O’Neill and the Aughavanagh man gathered and finished with aplomb to the back of David Whitty’s net.

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Aughrim began their recovery immediately. They are a tasty side. From the agile David Whitty in goals, hardy Dean Barnes at full-back, a decent half-back line of Paddy Byrne, Conor Lambert and Shane Arthur, the fine fielding John Toomey and Mark Clancy in the middle, the super fit Cillian McDonald at centre half, the classy Ian Clancy at 12 and the powerful Peter Quigley up top, they have plenty of very useful hurlers all over the field.

Ian Clancy got them off the mark with a 65 and although it took them a few minutes to get to grips with John Keogh’s excellent puck-outs they were soon up to speed and were within a single point of Kiltegan at the first water break at 1-4 to 0-6.

Ian Clancy had accounted for two of those five points, Peter Quigley with one and the very lively Darragh O’Shea with the other. O’Shea was causing Kiltegtan major problems in the corner, so much so that they introduced Aidan Byrne after 14 to try and limit his threat.

Kiltegan full-forward Joey Maher grabbed two of Kiltegan’s points while Liam Kavanagh swept over two from frees as the battle raged up and down the field.

The second quarter belonged to Aughrim. Peter Quigley got them off to a flyer, winning a dirty ball and rifling a low shot under John Keogh with 18 on the clock. Kiltegan’s reply was super as Mark Pierce raised a white flag from the very next puck-out to make it 1-6 to 1-5 for Aughrim.

There were more issues in the Kiltegan full-back line after 21 when corner-back Shane Tobin left the field injured. He was replaced by Padhraig Farrell.

Aughrim had their tails up now and they rattled off four unanswered points, all from the hurl of Ian Clancy (three frees). Kiltegan replied through Liam Kavanagh from a 65 but referee Paul Gahan felt the ire of the Kiltegan fans when he awarded a free for overcarrying against Mark Pierce with Ian Clancy pointing.

A Kavanagh free left four between the sides but Peter Quigley would deliver a sore blow on the stroke of half-time when he waited for the ball to skip past the Kiltegan full-back line, gathered and stroked home past John Keogh to make it 2-11 to 1-7.

Kiltegan introduced Anthony Furlong at the break and the handy hurler would have a major impact on this game from half-back, bringing a steadying influence to the fray and disrupting plenty of Aughrim ball across the half-back line and delivering with intent.

The second half would be 13 minutes old by the time the Granite City men would add to their account with Kiltegan clawing back three points in that time, two from trusty Liam Kavanagh, the other from Dean Davis after 11.

John Toomey stopped the rot with a fine effort after 13 but Kiltegan were looking very lively at this stage and points from Quigley and Kavanagh sandwiched a Clancy free for Aughrim and sent the sides in to the second water break with Emmet O’Sullivan’s men up by four at 2-13 to 1-12.

Kiltegan had introduced Liam Kennedy at this point, and he started to exert serious pressure on the Aughrim full-back line after the restart and looked to have won a penalty early on, but Paul Gahan called it back for a free which Kavanagh pointed to leave just three between the sides.

Clancy and Kavanagh traded points from frees, Aughrim’s for a jersey pull, Kiltegan’s for a foul on Kavanagh and there was still just a goal between the sides with 29 minutes gone.

Mark Pierce sought out Kennedy with a missile and the burly full-forward plucked it from the heavens and looked to have been fouled. Paul Gahan signaled the penalty, and someone shouted, “bring up Keogh”.

Up came goalkeeper John Keogh and after a short delay he lifted, struck and deposited the ball in the top corner of Shane Whitty’s net. Sides level.

John Toomey gathered superbly from the puck-out and he won his side a late free much to the consternation of the Kiltegan supporters. Clancy proved lethal. Back came Kiltegan and Mark Pierce won a free. This was a pressure strike to be sure, but Liam Kavanagh stood tall and split the posts.

Whitty’s puck-out didn’t herald the final whistle and Kiltegan won possession and pumped the ball long to Kennedy. This one wasn’t down on top of him however, it was out to the side and although he reached it ahead of Dean Barnes, the Aughrim full-back did enough to apply the pressure and the strike was poor.

The final whistle sounded, and brief confusion was quickly calmed when it was announced that there would be a replay to decide this championship and not extra-time. Hopefully that game matches this one for intensity, honesty of effort and excitement.

Aughrim: David Whitty; Oisin Dunne, Dean Barnes, Jack Murray; Paddy Byrne, Conor Lambert, Shane Arthur; John Toomey (0-1), Mark Clancy; Brian Hanlon, Cillian McDonald, Ian Clancy (0-11, 9f, 1 65); Darragh O’Shea (0-1), Peter Quigley (2-2), Mick Darcy. Subs: Shane McAllister for O Dunne (H/T), Tom Hayden for M Darcy (37), Jack Keenan for D O’Shea (52), Dylan Byrne for B Hanlon (60+4)

Kiltegan: John Keogh (1-0, p); Niall Gartland, Gavin Keogh, Shane Tobin; Paul Murray, Eoin O’Neill, James O’Brien; Andy Foley, Mark Pierce (0-1); Liam Kavanagh (0-10, 9f, 1 65), Liam Byrne, Dean Davis (0-1); Sean O’Neill (1-0), Joey Maher (0-3), Laurence Murphy. Subs: Aidan Byrne for N Gartland (14), Padhraig Farrell for S Tobin (21, inj), Anthony Furlong for P Murray (H/T), Ferghal Farrell for L Murphy (38), Liam Kennedy for F Farrell (42, inj)

Referee: Paul Gahan


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