Saturday 8th November 2003
Fethard pay the price as Stapleton winner puts golden through
County IHC Quarter Final
By Conor Kane
Golden-Kilfeacle 0-11; Fethard 0-10
- Having been behind for most of the match, the hurlers of Golden-Kilfeacle held their nerve at Boherlahan last Sunday to edge out Fethard after a tough, frenetic battle in this Credit Unions of Tipperary Intermediate Hurling Championship quarter-final.
From the first minute, when Aidan Fitzgerald got their opening point, until the 54th minute of the game, Fethard were in front. However, at times their dominance in terms of possession and territory wasn't converted into scores and they could never shake off their opponents' challenge.
In the closing minutes, it was Golden-Kilfeacle who finished the stronger and they drew level for the first time in that 54th minute when Michael Fogarty sent over a nice point after fellowsubstitute, the other Michael Fogarty, found him unmarked.
That set up a tense finish, and Fethard did manage to take the lead once again a minute later when John Paul Loohy got a great point from the left wing, nonchalantly shooting from close to the sideline while on the run.
But if Fethard thought they'd done enough by now to earn a semi-final spot, they were wrong as Golden/Kilfeacle came back yet again. This time, the impressive Shane Stapleton got them back on terms with his second point from play and they hit the front for the first time in the game when David Fogarty was successful from a free about 40 metres out.
Officially, time was up at this stage but a few stoppages during the half meant that about five minutes of injury time had to be added on and Fethard managed to tie things up yet again when Colin Allen stood up to the pressure and converted another free from a tricky angle.
With the teams on 10 points each, thoughts turned to extra-time but the play went on and the struggle continued to find a winner. Probably Golden- Kilfeacle's most effective forward during this quarter-final was Shane Stapleton so it was fitting that it should fall to him to ensure that there would be no need for another 20 minutes of play. Things were going at a relentless pace but neither side had managed to carve out a clear-cut chance since Fethard's equaliser so Stapleton took things into his own hands, latched onto a loose ball and wasted no time in sending it over the bar.
With almost five minutes of injury-time played, all that was left was the puck-out from Paul Fitzgerald before referee Dennis Curtis called for the sliotar and blew fulltime on Fethard's hopes, sending Golden/Kilfeacle into the semi-final.
Full credit is due to the winners for the way in which they stuck at their task after being behind for so long against a strong Fethard side. At one point in the first half, Fethard led by four after Cohn Allen added two points and Jamie McCormack and John Paul Looby got one each following Aidan Fitzgerald's opener, with Golden-Kilfeacle replying with a point by James McCarthy.
James Tierney and Michael Dillon then exchanged a couple of good scores from play, before David Fogarty pointed two frees for Golden-Kilfeacle. Aidan Fitzgerald's second left Fethard ahead at the break by 0-7 to 0-4, and apparently on course for the win.
Amongst their most effective performers in that opening half were the likes of Colin Allen at midfield, the half-back line of Tomas Keane, Stephen O'Donnell and Michael Ahearne who did much to repel Golden's attempts to create scoring opportunities; and Michael Dillon and Jamie McCormack up front.
The early exchanges of the second half saw the West side trying hard to get back into it, and they were rewarded when Michael Fogarty scored three minutes after the restart. They now had the benefit of whatever breeze was blowing at Boherlahan, but looked as if they would be frustrated by Fethard who managed to keep their noses in front for most of the second half.
Shane Stapleton came more and more into the game during the half, getting his first point after 10 minutes when he delivered a nice shot over the bar after picking up the rebound from a goal effort by Michael Fogarty which was blocked by Fethard's Shay Ryan.
Michael Dillon for Fethard and Michael Carr for Golden got further points to leave Fethard one ahead, and a goal at this stage of the game probably would have wrapped it up for them. That nearly arrived, when Brian Coen sent in a fine shot which was just blocked on the line and then, a few minutes later, the wing-forward headed towards the danger area and aimed a pass at the unmarked Michael Dillon in a move which seemed destined for the net until Kevin McCarthy intervened with a great block.
That could be seen now as a turning-point, as the rest of the match saw Golden/Kilfeacle getting ahead for the first time, and eventually getting that winning score through Shane Stapleton.
It was a satisfactory ending for the victors, who'd withstood the serious Fethard pressure thanks to good displays at the back by Donnacha Carr, Gerald Fogarty and David Fogarty, while the midfield pairing of James McCarthy and Stewart Beattie got more on top of things in the second half.
Golden/Kilfeacle: Mark Bargary, Paul Fogarty. Donnacha Carr, Michael Stapleton, Gerald Fogarty. David Fogarty (0-3, all frees). Damien Fogarty, James McCarthy (0-1, a free). Stewart Beattie, Michael Can (0-1), Shane Stapleton (0-3), Kevin McCarthy, James Tierney (0-I), Aidan Fogarty. Brian Fogarty. Subs: Michael Fogarty (0-2) for Damien Fogarty, Michael Fogarty for Kevin McCarthy.
Fethard: Paul Fitzgerald, Michael Quinlan, Michael Ryan, Shay Ryan, Tomas Keane, Stephen O'Donnell, Michael Ahearne, Colin Allen (0-3, one 65 and two frees), P.J. Ahearne, John Paul Looby (0-2), Aidan Fitzgerald (0-2), Brian Coen, Jamie McCormack (0-1). Miceál Spillane, Michael Dillon (0-2). Sub: Clan Maher for P.J. Ahearne.
Ref: Dennis Curtis.