Fitzpatrick shines as Dunnamaggin dig deep to deny Castleblayney
Dunnamaggin 1-17 Castleblayney 1-13
Kilkenny champions Dunnamaggin were made to earn their keep and sweat all the way before claiming glory in this gripping junior hurling decider at Croke Park yesterday.
Rank outsiders Castleblayney looked well capable of winning for the first 40 minutes. They headed towards the last quarter leading by 1-12 to 1-8, but then the tide turned against them.
Dunnamaggin had been poor, but found a better touch and coherence to their play. Points from match star John Fitzpatrick, free-taker Thomas Maher and Ray Cody levelled the game at 1-13 each six minutes from the end.
Dunnamaggin roared on, adding points from Maher (3) and Ronan Coffey to snatch a thrilling win and become the eighth Kilkenny club to take the title.
The winners just couldn't handle hot opposition during the opening half, even after enjoying the tonic of scoring an 11th minute goal by John Fitzpatrick but the Monaghan side grew in confidence as the half wore on. With deadly free-taker Fergal Rafter hitting the target from all distance, they eventually earned parity in the 28th minute at 1-5 to 0-8.
Castleblayney powered on, as Brian McGuigan got inside the last line of the Kilkenny defence to shoot an excellent goal on 29 minutes and while Dunnamaggin hit the last point of the half from a free by Maher, they trailed by 1-8 to 1-6 at the interval.
Although Dunnamaggin had the opening point of the second half after 18 seconds from Ray Cody, the fightback to get back on level terms was still 24 minutes away, but by that time the Cats had unearthed their best form and raced away for victory.
SCORERS - Dunnamaggin: T Maher 0-7 (4f; 1 65); J Fitzpatrick 1-3; R Coffey, R Cody 0-2 each; D Fitzpatrick, D O'Keeffe, E Kearney 0-1 each. Castleblayney: F Rafter 0-9 (6f, 1 '65); B McGuigan 1-1; H Byrne 0-2; C McNally 0-1 .
Dunnamaggin - S O'Neill; M Heffernan, N Hickey, V Costello; M Cody, W Phelan, A Fitzpatrick; D Fitzpatrick, E Kearney; T Maher, J Fitzpatrick, D O'Keeffe; R Coffey, R Cody, A Fitzpatrick. Subs: J Brett for M Heffernan (35); I Walsh for A Fitzpatrick (44).
Castleblayney - P Collins; E Leonard, J McHugh, C Merrick; A Kenny, P Treanor, C McNally; B Flanagan, P Finnegan; H Byrne, M Treanor, B McGuigan; F Rafter, C Callan, P Malone. Sub: F Finnegan for P Malone (54).
Ref - L Gordon (Galway)
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