Ahascragh-Fohenagh 1-19 Pádraig Pearses 1-14: It was a disappointing start to the Championship for our Senior hurlers in Duggan Park yesterday evening. With the attendance limited to 200 people, it was a strange atmosphere. Spectators however were not limited to the 200 inside the perimeter either, as some looked on from inside the Showgrounds stand and on top of the sheds behind the goal.
Ahascragh-Fohenagh led for most of the game, with the Mannions, Mark Kelly and Sean Bleahene pulling the strings. A five point burst early in the first half put them in the driving seat. Pearses got the margin back to three points at half time, but a goal not long after the restart reopened the gap to six.
The teams were level 0-2 each after 7 minutes, before Ahascragh-Fohenagh, backed by the breeze, hit five points in three minutes. Bleahene and Padraig Mannion, with the best of these from long range. Two pointed frees from Oisin Flannery got Pearses back into it, but these were soon cancelled out by scores from Pádraig Mannion and Mark Kelly. Gary Lally got inside the A/F cover for a run at goal, soloing along the endline before a late challenge on him earned a free, converted by Flannery. There was five between the teams again with four minutes to play before another brace of frees from Flannery left the score 0-11 to 0-8 at half-time.
It was the best possible start to the second half for A/F. Two minutes in and Ronan Kelly found himself in space. He soloed forward and off-loaded to Noel Warde, who finished to the net, 1-11 to 0-8. The next 10 minutes seen the teams share six points evenly. The pick of them was a fine point from Damien Wynne, from along the stand touchline. Pádraig Mannion came close with a goal chance at the other end, but was denied by a great save at the butt of the post by Fearghal Flannery, 1-14 to 0-11.
As the game entered the final quarter a Ross Hannon point put A/F eight points clear. A minute later, a trademark run by Gary Lally at the opposite end seen him draw a good save from keeper Colm Freyne. The ball popped up and Cormac Ward finished to the net. Ward however, was judged to have fouled the keeper by Referee Ogie Moran and the goal disallowed. After 23 minutes of the second half A/F led by 1-19 to 0-13.
Tomas Flannery and Jimmy Gelston had been introduced off the bench and were using their experience to try and manufacture a much-needed goal. A goal-bound 21-yard-free from Emmet Ward was deflected out for a ’65, which Colm Raftery pointed. As the game entered injury time a free from Tomás Flannery dropped in from in from in front of the stand made it all the way to the net to cut the margin to five, but ultimately time ran out to salvage a result.
Pearses will play Mullagh in the next round, with Kilnadeema-Leitrim also to come. Wins will be needed in both those games to advance from the Group.
Pearses: F Flannery; T McDonagh, K Donnellan, R Lally; R O’Neill, C Raftery (0-1), K Hardiman; C Fahey (0-1), D Wynne (0-1); S Hardiman (0-1), O Flannery (0-7), E Ward (0-2); G Lally, C Ward (0-1), M Hennelly. Subs used: J Barrett, J Gelston, T Flannery (1-0), C O’Neill.