Castletown 2-11 The Harps 2-11
Laois Shopping Centre JHC Semi-final
Castletown recovered from a sloppy second half display to salvage a draw in the Junior Hurling Championship semi-final against the Harps in the LOETB Centre of Excellence on Thursday evening.
This is the time of year where nothing can be left in the tank. Knockout hurling brings out the best in us all and The Harps flew out of the blocks with this in mind.
Two minutes in and the first score would be a goal. Harps’ Fionn Whelan broke through to set up teammate Brian Clancy who fired to the back of the net.
Seamus Lyons responded a while later with a well struck free. Early signs were worrying for the Castletown defence but with Luke O’Grady dropping from midfield to wing back to tie up Shane Donoghue, they became more assured in defence. This gave them a platform for their attacks, which their forwards would benefit from.
O’Grady would go on to have a Man Of The Match performance in defence. Midway through the first half he would lose his hurl, continue to chase his man and throw his body in on the ball for a brave block that summed up his performance.
The men in blue converted two points within the next five minutes to cancel out The Harps’ immense start. They were now growing in confidence.
Ross Young opened his account to tie things up after 13 minutes to get his team’s tally moving again.
However a surge from Castletown was about to arrive,which lasted all the way until just before half-time. It began with the ever present James Hooban dancing and pirouetting his way through on goal to put the ball on a plate for full forward Seamus Lyons.
Fionn Whelan pointed from 70 yards to release some pressure but a mere two minutes later and Castletown had their second goal in a row.
Some hard tackling forced a poor clearance and with one quick pass, the athletic Kevin Carroll slotted the ball past the on rushing keeper.
Ross Young pointed from a free again but Lyons would reply with a free of his own. Approaching half-time and Castletown led by six but Castletown would struggle to recover from what happened next.
A long puckout from Lorcan Fitzpatrick broke perfectly to Ross Young. He never broke stride as he gracefully flicked the ball up and raced through to score a sensational goal.
From the resulting puckout the tigerish John Prior wob the dirty ball, beat three men and scored a monstrous point that swung momentum in The Harps’ favour. The teams now entered the break with Castletown leading 2-7 to 2-5
On the resumption of play it appeared the wind was knocked out of Castletown’s sails. They would not score for the first 15 minutes of the half.
Ross Young was pivotal in The Harps regaining the lead in the second half. His team were running hard at Castletown and drawing fouls. He would be the only man to score(4) for over 13 minutes,the best of the bunch was an over the shoulder effort from the sideline.
Play was stopped shortly afterward for an injury to a Harps player. When play resumed it was to be a sideline to Castletown, 55 metres out on the right. Without much fuss the incredibly skilful, James Hooban, cut over a beauty. A better sideline will be near impossible to find.
Young and Lyons swapped frees with 51 minutes on the clock, leaving Castletown with a one point advantage. With 53 minutes played Young stepped up for a free 70 metres out and tied the game up for the seventh time.
It was to be the final score of the game as both sides appeared quite tired with 10 minutes to go. No hero was able to come to the rescue and the sides ended all square at 2-11 a piece.
Both teams can take many positives into the replay; Castletown’s scoring spree up until half-time and The Harps’ terrific start aswell as their will to stay in the game when momentum was agaisnt them.
All in all both sides are well matched and the replay is sure to be just as nip and tuck
CASTLETOWN: Patrick Mullaney, Cillian Phelan, Adrian Dollard, Brian Ferns, Tadgh Dooley, Michael Cuddy, Kevin Conroy, Luke Grady James Hooban, Paul Croke, Craig Finlay, Seamus Lyons, Kevin Carroll
THE HARPS: Lorcan Fitzpatrick, Eoghan Doheny, Gavin Dunne, Thomas Walsh, John Prior, Danny Delahunty, Cathal Phelan, Evan Deegan, Shane Keown, Shane Donoghue, Fionn Whelan, Ross Young, Brian Clancy, Liam Dunphy, Niall Brophy
REFEREE: Anthony Costigan