Glenravel come out on top in a ding dong battle.

ACHL Division 3

Glenravel 1-13   Rasharkin 1-11

Glenravel and Rasharkin senior hurlers came out of hibernation yesterday in Fr Maginn Park to serve up a ding dong battle in this Div 3 clash. For most of the game the gap between the two teams was never more than two points with both sides holding the lead at various stages. Paul McSparron took charge of the game and with Maginn Park bathed in sunshine enjoying almost Spring like temperatures both teams gave everything throughout the hour. The home side however finished stronger and claimed victory in the end by a two point margin. 

Glenravel started brightly and had the first two scores through Rian Lennon and a Jonathan Fyfe free in the opening five minutes. But Rasharkin then took hold of the game for the remainder of the first half and with a very talented half forward in Conor McKeever scoring three points in succession they crept into the lead. The Dreen men were showing some aerial dominance and applying pressure in wave after wave of attack but it must be said the home team’s last line of defence coped admirably and anything that did get past them was blocked out by some brilliant point blank saves by Ronan Donnelly in Glenravel’s nets. Glenravel have Ronan to thank for still being in the game at half time having thwarted the blue and yellow onslaught on three separate occasions when a goal looked odds on.

On twelve minutes, Jonathan Fyfe restored parity on the scoreboard for a short period but McKeever popped up again to push Rasharkin ahead by a point. Declan Traynor levelled a minute later and then a brace of points from Conor McKeever (free) and a fine long range effort from Tiernan O’Boyle put the away team into the lead by two on a 0-4 to 0-6 scoreline. A Jonathan Fyfe free reduced the gap to one but up stepped Tiernan O’Boyle again from the half back birth to put two between them once more. Fyfe and McKeever exchanged points before Padge O’Neill’s fine effort for Glenravel brought the game to the short whistle with Rasharkin leading by one point 0-7 to 0-8. Rasharkin probably felt they should have gone into the break with a bigger margin.

Conor McKeever pointed from a free in the opening minute of the second half and one minute later Cahal Hynds reduced the gap to one point before the decisive score of the game in the seventh minute of the second half. A long ball into the Rasharkin square was batted out and in the resulting melee the sliothar ended up crossing the goal line and being booted back out again. That the ball crossed the line is not in any doubt but I don’t believe anyone knows exactly who got the final touch to put it there. It could have been any one of about half a dozen players from both sides. That goal put the home team into the lead by two and it was a lead they would not relinquish to the end of the game. Donach Quigg pointed for Rasharkin 10 minutes into the second half and Glenravel’s lead was now down to a single point.

However as the water break approached, the home team really started to dominate all over the pitch and notched up three successive points from open play. Declan Traynor, Jonathan Fyfe and Cathal Hynds the providers. After the water break, Rasharkin pulled their danger man, Conor McKeever, into the edge of the square in the hope of some magic and indeed with ten minutes left on the clock McKeever found himself all alone in front of goal. This time, even Ronan Donnelly was helpless as McKeever’s bullet almost lifted the nets off the posts. Rasharkin were back in business, trailing by a single point 1-11 to 1-10 and ten minutes of action remaining. But Glenravel showed their mettle and when Conleth O’Loan rounded his man and pointed from a tight angle a two point gap was restored. That was followed by a Conor McKeever point from play and once again we had a one point game. The last ten minutes were end to end as both teams gave everything in search of the two league points on offer.  Both defences were on top however and neither side managed to raise a flag despite several chances. The final score of the game was a long range effort from Glenravel’s James Duffin one minute into added time and I think at that stage the Dreen men knew it just wasn’t going to be their day.

This was an entertaining game which either side could have won. It reminded us all how much we missed hurling during the Covid pandemic. Both teams are to be congratulated for the way they approached the game given the dearth of activity in the last year. Glenravel will be delighted to get off to a winning start and Rasharkin will rue those missed chances in the first half that could have put some daylight between the teams when they were more dominant. 

Glenravel: Ronan Donnelly, Brian O’Neill, Shan Lee Kerr, Stephen Acheson, Michael McDonald, James Duffin (0-1), Padge O’Neill (0-1), Cathal Hynds (0-2), Rian Lennon (0-1), Sean McKay, Eoin McCusker, Jonathan Fyfe (0-5, 3f), Odhran McAleenan, Shane Woulahan, Declan Traynor (0-2). 

Subs Conleth O’Loan (0-1) for Odhran McAleenan, Conor Carey for Padge O’Neill

Rasharkin: Aidan Darragh, Liam Tunney, Aiden McKeever, Conor Doherty, Daniel Hasson, Daniel Doherty, Tiernan O’Boyle (0-2), Thomas McMullan, Emmet McFerran, Conor McKeever (1-08), Kealan Darragh, Donagh Quigg (0-1), James Scally, Declan McKay, Shane Hasson.

Referee: Paul McSparron

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