Dunnamaggin and Noel Hickey book final date in Croke Park after extra-time thriller
Dunnamaggin 0-23 Cloughduv 2-16 (after extra time)
NOEL Hickey is returning to Croke Park – where he collected nine All-Ireland medals during a glittering inter-county career – after his beloved Dunnamaggin side overcame their Cork opponents in a nail-biting AIB All Ireland club junior hurling championship semi-final.
The Kilkenny legend afterwards laughed off suggestions he could be in line for a recall as Brian Cody looks to plug his problem full-back area. For the moment, though, it was a special moment to savour with his clubmates, who held their nerve to emerge triumphant by a single point after extra time.
And it was a sweet victory for Kilkenny GAA after Graigue Ballycallan were narrowing edged out by their Cork opponents by a two-point margin in their intermediate club championship semi-final clash yesterday.
Today’s game at Fraher Park in Dungarvan was an evenly-matched thriller, which neither side deserved to lose.
However, the Kilkenny side edged it in extra-time with an overall contribution of 11 points from Thomas Maher helping them on their way.
The sides were level 0-2 apiece after four minutes, however Dunnamaggin put some distance between the teams when they outscored Cloughduv nine points to one over the next 19 minutes of play.
Some excellent link-play resulted in a run of points including three each from Jim Fitzpatrick and Maher.
Solid defending by Noel Hickey and captain William Phelan kept the Munster champions at bay. The Cork side did their best to mount a fightback and finished the half strong with points from Joe Ryan and James Moynihan. However, they still trailed by 0-11 to 0-5.
Cloughduv had the perfect restart with a point from free-taker Brian Verling and the goal they badly needed came from Mark Walsh who finished Brian Verling’s free low to the net. Dunnamaggin replied through Maher and Darren Fitzpatrick. By the end of the third quarter, the gap was just one, 1-9 to 0-13.
With five minutes remaining, the Cork team drew level through a Mark Verling point. Dunnamaggin fought back to take a two-point lead with time running out, but there was still time for some late drama. Substitute Kevin Barry Murphy rattled the net on 61 minutes to bring the score to 2-12 to 0-17. Jim Fitzpatrick’s fourth point then brought the sides level.
Extra-time was still to come, and it was still deadlock after the first period.
Then Maher put the Kilkenny junior kingpins two clear with time running out. Barry Murphy managed to pull a point back, but it was not enough to deny Dunnamaggin a famous victory.
Dunnamaggin: S O’Neill; M Heffernan, N Hickey, V Costello; M Cody, W Phelan (Capt), A Fitzpatrick; D Fitzpatrick, E Kearney; T Maher, R Cody, D O’Keeffe; R Coffey, J Fitzpatrick, I Walsh.
Subs: L Fitzpatrick for I Walsh (52), C Hoban for R Cody (58), L Fitzpatrick for R Cody (half-time et), P Kirwan for C Hoban (76),
Cloughduv: J Buckley; P Buckley, B Ahern, P O’Sullivan; G Ahern, D O’Leary, E Clifford; M Walsh, A Murphy; M Verling (Capt), A Cronin, D Corkery; B Verling, J Ryan, J Moynihan.
Subs: D Sullivan for G Ahern (half-time), A Twomey for P O’Sullivan (52), K Barry Murphy for D Corkery (55), A Aherne for J Ryan (55), K Walsh for J Moynihan (62), B Hinchion for D O’Leary (60 + 6), J Ryan for A Cronin (half-time et),
Referee: Thomas Walsh (Waterford).
PICTURE: Dunnamaggin GAA Facebook