All County Hurling League – Division 4
Conn Magees Glenravel 1.11 Naomh Colum Cille, Coalisland 1.11
By Fergus Miskelly
Rambo always said that “nearly” was only any good when you were throwing hand grenades, but we nearly won this game in the dying seconds when we were enjoying all the possession and in the ascendancy. However at half time the Glenravel team would have been more than happy with a draw.
On a fine dry evening this promised to be an entertaining match against the Tyrone side from Coalisland. Despite first half points from Padge O’Neill and Niall Donnelly, the Naomh Colum Cille men were ahead by 9 points at half time. Tyrone teams are more famed for football, blanket defences and Rockwell water, but this side showed that they were no strangers to hurling either, playing some top class stuff as they took what appeared to be a vice-like grip on the game. There were few positives in the first half for the Con Magees with the Coalisland men seeming hungrier for the ball, linking up well, and always seeming to be able to find a free man in space. Our defence remained under pressure for most of the half and if it were not for solid performances from Jonathon Fyfe, Shanlee Kerr and Kieran McIntyre we would have been further adrift.
Whatever happened in the half time changing room, Glenravel emerged a different team in the second half. Maybe it was stern words from manager Sean Kerr, maybe it was the introduction of Connor McKeown, Neil McCann and Cormac Scullion, or maybe it was the encouraging words of Archie Rae: “Right boys let’s get playing here” in his distinctive Scottish brogue. Either way the second half started brightly with 3 points without reply. The first was a point from Vic McCann after a good pass from Shaney Woulahan, then a free from Niall Donnelly, which was followed by another point from play by Vic after a great clearance out of defence by Connor McKeown.
The introduction of Owen McCusker on 40 minutes had immediate effect as he latched onto a pass from Niall Donnelly and hit a rocket only to be well saved by the Tyrone keeper. But shortly after Niall Donnelly won a puck out and neatly passed to Neill McCann for another point. Glenravel dominated the possession for much of the half but with ten minutes remaining they still trailed by 1:10 to 0:06. Throughout this period there were good passages of play from the home side who were moving the ball about accurately, but too often the final pass was letting them down. Special mention must go to Connor McKeown, as time and time again he won ball through sheer determination and bravery.
Further points from frees from Niall Donnelly saw the home side still 3 points adrift going into injury time, when Shane Woulahan proved to be the hero of the hour as he found the net from what seemed an impossible angle to bring his side level. The visitors, who had been the dominant force during the first half, must have wondering what had just happened. Glenravel had a few chances to take all the points in injury time, but in the end a draw was probably a fair result.
Rambo has struck fear into the opposition in everywhere from Afghanistan to Vietnam, but I don’t know how good he would be under a high ball on the six yard line, from this respect no Glenravel players were found wanting against a strong physical Tyrone team, and “nearly” won the game in the end.
Team: M Scullion, D O’Hagan, B O’Neill, C Mullan, J Fyfe, M McDonnell, S Kerr, P O’Neill, K McIntyre, N Donnelly, S McElroy, J Duffin, D Traynor, S Woulahan, O McAleenan
Subs – Connor McKeown, Neill McCann, Cormac Scullion, Owen McCusker