Senior hurlers: HAS the tying of a pair of boot laces ever came with such a cost on the sporting field as it did for Eire Og Greystones on Saturday afternoon when they took on St Pats in the Dacia Cars Senior Hurling Championship quarter-final?
The Greystones men had a free out late on in the second half of this entertaining clash. Goalkeeper Dan ONeill came out to take it but just before it was about to launch it towards the St Pats goal he knelt to tie his boot laces.
Deciding that he was wasting time, referee Ciaran Fleming cancelled the free and threw in the ball, a decision he is perfectly entitled to make if he deems the tying of the laces to be time wasting. Pats would win a sideline ball from the throw in and that ball was fired in between Andy OBriwn and Stephen Kelly and Pats were awarded a free.
Words must have been offered in protest at the decision because the free was moved up and from a position of a point down Andy OBrien drew them level and their championship hopes survived.
It was the boot laces that did it. If Ciaran Fleming had decided to add on the extra seconds instead of cancelling the free who knows what might have happened, maybe Pats would still have clawed their way back into the game. Or maybe they wouldnt have and maybe Eire Og Greystones would be preparing for a semi-final shot at the defending champions now and not lamenting their championship exit.
The key battle of this game was always going to be Andy OBrien and Stephen Kelly and until that late foul for the equalising score it was Chester who was dominating the Pats sharp-shooter.
Without the savage goal threat Andy OBrien usually brings to a game, Pats were struggling with the Eire Og men, although they got a mighty boost after 30 seconds when George Bee OBrien fired home a rocket to the back of Dan ONeills net to get the scoring underway.
Eire Og were looking to midfielder Kris Flynn, the sturdy Anto Byrne at centre half forward and the aerial menace of Andrew Walsh and the hurling ability and free-taking of James Cranley to get past the Pats challenge and for the most part they looked like they were capable of doing that.
After that opening major, Eire Og worked hard to recover and were level after five minutes thanks to points from Leon Browne, Michael Walsh and Anto Byrne from the boot and things looked even better after 11 minutes when they were leading by 0-6 to 1-1 following white flags from Cranley (free), Andrew Walsh and Kris Flynn in reply to a Terry Healy point for Pats.
They were lifted even more with the sight of Stephen Kelly winning a ball out in front of Andy OBrien around this time. If they believed that brutal threat in front of their own goal was being curbed by Chester then they would have the freedom to play their game across the rest of the field.
But holding Andy OBrien for a full game is nigh on impossible. He escaped Kellys attention in the 12th minute and rifled over and by the time he grabbed his second after 25 minutes Pats were level at 1-4 to 0-7 with points from Ricky Quinn and Cranley to add to his own on the scoreboard.
A strong finish to the first half allowed the Eire Og men take a two-point lead into the break with Leon Browne and Cranley pushing them in front with fine scores.
Michael Neary introduced Patrick Murphy and Wayne Farrell into the mix after the break and although Andy OBrien pointed a free to reduce the deficit in the early stages their championship dreams took a serious blow when Terry Healy was shown a red card for a strike on Anto Byrne.
Another Andy free drew the sides level after five minutes but Michael Walsh hit back before Andy hoisted Pats back to parity with another free.
The fouls were starting to really hurt Eire Og at this stage and Shaun Hughes transgression on George Bee OBrien allowed Andy a chance to give Pats the lead and the county star doesnt need to be asked twice.
This was a good spell for Pats, despite being down to 14, and had they not proved wayward from a number of opportunities they would have led handsomely.
They did open up a three-point lead by the 55th minute of the game through the work of George Bee OBrien and Christy Moorehouse, but Eire Og would come with a strong finish and points from Kris Flynn and Leon Browne and a rocket of a goal from Anto Byrne on 60 minutes left Eire Og looking home and hosed at 1-12 to 1-10.
But the drama was about to ratchet up.
Eire Ogs Michael Walsh was penalised for overcarrying and Andy OBrien split the posts. Back to a one-point game. Back came Pats again, renewed energy coursing through their veins.
With tensions rising Eire Ogs Peter Keane won a free. Out came Dan ONeill to take it and seconds after he had knelt to tie his laces referee Ciaran Fleming trotted back and declared that he was throwing in the ball much to the upset of the Eire Og contingent and the delight of a feverishly animated Michael Neary.
The sideline ball was directed towards Andy and Chester with the Greystones man adjudged to have fouled the St Pats full-forward we had a level game with time just up. The final whistle sounded and it was extra-time in the county grounds.
Would Eire Og have the legs and how much of a blow would the end to that game be on their composure and mental strength?
The first half of extra-time was tight and tense, and we headed for the break all square at 1-14 to 1-14 after points from George Bee OBrien and Andy OBrien were landed either side of two James Cranley scores (two frees) for Eire Og.
Pats would enjoy a superb start to the second period of extra-time. Bee OBrien, a free from Andy after a foul on Ricky Quinn by Michael Arrrigan and then two superb Christy Moorehouse Jnr points served to knock the stuffing out of the Greystones men.
But gather their thoughts they did, and they came in search of scores. They got them through Stephen Kelly, who came up to try his luck from a close-in free but got under the ball and drove it over the bar instead of directly into the wall of Pats defenders on the goal line, and Anto Byrne. But despite laying siege to the Pats goal they just couldnt find that major that would secure victory and Ciaran Flemings final whistle sent Pats marching on to a semi-final battle with Glenealy.
Scorers St Patricks: Andy OBrien 0-10 (9f), George Bee OBrien 1-3, Bonner OBrien 0-3, Terry Healy 0-1, Ricky Quinn 0-1.
Eire Og Greystones: Anto Byrne 1-2, James Cranley 0-5 (3f), Leon Browne 0-3, Michael Walsh 0-2, Kris Flynn 0-2, Stephen Kelly 0-1 (f).
Eire Og Greystones: Dan ONeill; Dan OConnor, Michael Arrigan, Shaun Hughes; Billy Cuddihy, Stephen Kelly, Peter Keane; Brian Lawless, Kris Flynn; Leon Browne, Anto Byrne, Michael Walsh; James Cranley, Andrew Walsh, Eoin Dorgan. Subs: Danny Nolan.
Adult ladies footballers: WITH a heavily bandaged leg, Amy Murphy stood up to take the last kick of the game to send this Junior battle to extra-time after her An Tochar side and their Eire Og counterparts had produced a stunning encounter for 60-odd minutes.
Murphy had been exceptional all afternoon, bagging 1-2 while engaged in a fierce midfield battle with Meadbh Deeney and Claudia Randals. The kick was about 30 yards out on the preferred side for a left-footer and facing into the Rednagh Hill end of Joule Park Aughrim. Nothing easy about this kick. Pressure. Tired legs.
Up stepped Murphy but the effort went astray and when Ciarn Walshe sounded those shrill blasts of his whistle the Roundwood woman dropped to her knees as Eire Og rejoiced. The Greystones women had held on for a magical victory.
Eire Og manager Ray McTague paid a special tribute to Amy Murphy after the game.
Thats down to tiredness and thats all it is (the miss). Shes an absolute credit to her club and her county. It was a privilege for me to coach a team to beat her is the best compliment I can give her. I said that to her. Shes a great example for everyone to watch, said the softly spoken McTague.
The word rollercoaster best sums up this superb Junior decider in Joule Park Aughrim last Saturday afternoon. Up and down the field raged the battle between the women of Greystones and their Roundwood opponents. Superb goals flew in from all angles, nine of them in total, and heres a statistic for you: An Tochar had one wide, one single miss, and that arrived at the death when Amy Murphys effort flew wearily wide of the Eire Og upright.
Not one single person in the county grounds would have bemoaned extra-time. In fact, every extra minute would have been considered a privilege to witness if it was anything like the previous 60.
After scoring 10 goals in their semi-final war with Baltinglass, McTagues warriors knew they werent going to rack up that number of majors given that Katie Coleman was in goals for An Tochar. Ray McTague says that the Roundwood number one is a superb netminder and she was his major concern coming into the decider.
Everyone coming into the match was talking about her (Amy Murphy). To be honest my own thoughts were on their goalkeeper. They have an absolutely brilliant goalkeeper. When we played them before the team were talking about Amy Murphy and I kept saying the goalkeeper, because that goalkeeper is spot on. One on one you will not beat her, shes absolutely class.
We played Roundwood in the first round of the championship and she saved at least 10 oneon-ones, and thats how we knew about her, he added.
Coleman could do little to prevent Meadhbh Deeneys opener in the early stages of this battle. An Tochar would quickly reply through Sarah Kavanagh but the Greystones women would rip open a 1-4 to 0-1 lead thanks to two Meadhbh Deeney points and a single from Megan Healy.
However, while they bagged 10 goals in the semi-final they also conceded nine and An Tochar would further exploit that weakness by grabbing six majors over the course of the game, the first from full-forward Marcella Price and followed up rapidly with a lovely lob from Aoife Murtagh to level the game in an instant.
Eire Ogs ability to create openings for points was obvious all day and they recovered from the two-goal wallop to fire over three unanswered minors from Deeney, after a lovely ball from the impressive Elaina Fusciardi, Rachel Purcell and Megan Healy.
But An Tochar knew the Eire Og secret and they went for the jugular at every opportunity. Marcella Price rifled home her second goal and Liadh Cronin picked out Amy Murphy with a pass for the midfielder to fire a rocket to the top corner to propel the Roundwood women into a 4-1 to 1-7 lead after 26 minutes.
Moments after Murphy bagged that goal she popped up in her own square to block a shot from Elaina Fusciardi. It said it all in relation to Amy Murphys performance on the day.
Back came Eire Og. A poor An Tochar kick-out was recycled and ended up with the hugely influential Meadhbh Deeney and the county star walloped home to level the game after 28 at 2-7 to 4-1.
A late Elaina Fusciardi point sent McTagues women in leading by the minimum, but this was anyones game.
A Deeney free opened the second half but An Tochar found the Greystones net with a simple tap home from Blaithnaid Morris. Eire Og made a change of netminder after 37 minutes by sending in Orla Minogue for Katie OReilly who had performed well in terms of kick-outs. Ray McTague paid tribute to the starting goalkeeper.
Credit to our goalkeeper Katie who stepped in at the last minute. She was there for her kickouts, no fault of her own, we just had to make a change. Roundwood are a great team, great club, absolutely credit to their coaches, their manager, I knew they would be well drilled, he said.
A Katie Lawless goal helped Eire Og open up a 3-12 to 5-1 lead but An Tochar would not be held and they fired over four fine points, two from Jess Scott and two from Amy Murphy, before a stunning goal from Aoife Murtagh opened up a two-point lead for An Tochar at 6-5 to 3-12, with things looking very promising for the Roundwood side.
But Eire Og started to claw their way back into the game. Meadhbh Deeney from a free won by Rachel Purcell, Deeney from a free awarded against an An Tochar player for playing the ball while she was on the ground levelled the game and a sweet move between Erin Wyley, Iseult Brosnan and Sinead Kelly provided Elaina Fusciardi to fire over what would be the winning score of 2018 Wicklow ladies Junior football final.
An Tochar would attack and win a free. Amy Murphy would take the ball in hand but watch in agony as he effort tailed wide. Despair for An Tochar, pure joy for Eire Og.
The match itself, very exciting, fast-flowing, said Ray McTague, I knew it would be tight, I knew it would be the battle of the two great Wicklow midfielders.
I knew we had the fitness because we have a right mix of the 16-year-olds who came up two years ago and we kept them together mixed with the older vintage, and to gel all them together. For example, Erin Wylie played on the team 10 years ago, Lisa Murphy didnt get a run today, played 10 years ago, so theres that gap of 28, 29, 30 up to 34 and then theres the gap from 16 to 19. Its a mix. Its a credit to them. I think they deserve it.
I didnt like the start of the match. I dont like being ahead and I knew An Tochar would come. I knew we had kicked too many wides, but I knew An Tochar would come at us and by god them came at us.
McTague is a hugely popular figure in Greystones GAA circles. Eire Og captain Ciara Patrick paid tribute to the Leitrim native in her eloquent speech. Ray said that it was the commitment and the hard work from his side that got themover the line.