O’Neills All County Hurling League Division Three
St. Paul’s 1-17-2-12 Lámh Dhearg
By Kevin Herron at Rossa Park
St. Paul’s edged the Divison Three ACHL derby with Lámh Dhearg and in the process edged away from the bottom three after a 1-17-2-12 win this afternoon.
Played in the shadow of their Shaws Road home in neighbouring Rossa Park – the hoops looked to be on track for two crucial league points after a goal from Kevin Gamble helped them to a 1-14-0-11 lead with time fast running out.
However the returning Domhnall Nugent flicked to the net to set-up a grandstand finish – St. Paul’s looked to have again secured the spoils, but the defiant Lámhs hit the net again through Mark Finnegan though a Gerard Carbery free deep into injury-time was the last action as St. Paul’s held out for the win.
Just two-points separated the sides prior to the relegation four-pointer at the bottom and it was Lámh Dhearg who began on the front foot, the returning Domhnall Nugent made an immediate impact as he shot over the bar and then doubled the lead with an accurate shot that sailed between the posts.
Conleth McVeigh struck back for St. Paul’s but the hosts defence were struggling with Nugent early on and the big full-forward restored his sides two-point lead and made it 0-01-0-03.
An excellent point from Ruaidhri O’Muiri was followed by a leveller from Andy McMorrow as St. Paul’s began to gain the upper hand.
McMorrow the edged his side ahead and just past the midway point in the opening half Gerard Carbery split the posts to make it four-points on the trot for the Shaws Road men and make it 0-05-0-03 on the score board.
St. Paul’s were very the side in the ascendancy and a further three points in quick succession had them six in front with little under ten minutes remaining of the half – Conleth McVeigh struck for the second time in the half before Antrim’s Stephen Rooney produced a magnificent score and Carbery made it seven on the spin.
Carbery hit his third of the half from a converted free to give his side a 0-09-0-03 lead – the Lámhs were in need of a score to try and stem the tide and they were rewarded as Paddy Mervyn claimed Paddy Joe Herron’s puck out and won a free, Mark Finnegan watched in frustration as his effort drifted short but Mervyn won possession and shot over the bar.
Gerard Carbery converted a further free to move his side six ahead once more and Paddy Mervyn again cut the gap with a point – it could have been so much better however as Sean Paul Gibson charged down the right hand channel and almost picked out Mark Finnegan inside the small square, the St. Paul’s defence frantically tried to usher the ball out of the imminent danger and Leon McVeigh breathed a huge sigh of relief as Mervyn shot over the bar rather than under it.
Declan Chapman and Domhnall Nugent traded scores in injury-time but it was St. Paul’s who were in control at the break, 0-11-0-06 to the good.
Lámh Dhearg began cut the deficit from the restart thanks to Domhnall Nugent’s fifth point of the afternoon though Declan Chapman responded – Mark Finnegan then landed a free from range to reduce arrears to four for the second time in the half but eight minutes into the second period St. Paul’s dealt the Hannahstown side a hammer blow.
Kevin Gamble picked up possession in the small square and fired low past Paddy Joe Herron in the Lámh Dhearg goal to give his side a 1-12-0-08 lead. Gamble almost scrambled home his second inside the opening ten minutes of the half, but Paddy Joe Herron emerged from a congested goal mouth and fired the ball into touch and out of harm’s way.
St. Paul’s would increase their lead through Carbery’s third converted free of the afternoon though three successfully converted frees from Mark Finnegan kept Lámh Dhearg within touching distance at, 1-13-0-11.
Carbery’s accuracy from the placed ball paid dividends again as St. Paul’s went six ahead with little under ten remaining.
Lámh Dhearg were in urgent need of a goal and with little over five minutes remaining it was game on – Ronan Fegan’s persistence paid off as he scooped up possession and burst forward before floating the ball into the danger area where Domhnall Nugent was lurking and Nugent flicked the ball past the oncoming Leon McVeigh and into the net to make it 1-14-1-11 and set-up a grandstand finish.
Sensing the spoils were there for the taking Lámh Dhearg upped the ante but Nugent, Conor McConville and Ryan Diamond all watched on as their efforts drifted wide of the target.
Instead Andy McMorrow and a converted Carbery free gave St. Paul’s breathing space again and a five-point lead two-minutes into injury-time.
Mark Finnegan had the opportunity to float the ball into a crowded area from a free shortly afterwards but got too much elevation onto it and instead hit a point.
Sean Paul Gibson then turned over the resulting puck out and Lámh Dhearg won a second free which surely had to drop into the danger zone – but ice cool in his striking Mark Finnegan’s effort bounced into the net and suddenly Lámh Dhearg trailed by the minimum with just enough time to salvage something, 1-16-2-12.
However Finnegan was adjudged to have given away a free from Leon McVeigh’s puck out and the final action of the game saw Gerard Carbery convert the resulting free as St. Paul’s were able to breathe a huge sigh of relief and move four-points clear of Lámh Dhearg at the basement.
St. Paul’s: L McVeigh, J Keatings, C Hetherington, S Bradley, F Sewell, S Rooney (0-01), C Murray, C O’Carroll, R O’Muiri (0-01), C McVeigh (0-02), K Gamble (1-00), A McMorrow (0-03), D Chapman (0-02), G Carbery (0-08, 0-06f), D McGreevy.
Lámh Dhearg: PJ Herron, R Fegan, M Lynch, M McGuigan, SP Gibson, A McGuigan, E Herron, R Diamond, M Finnegan (1-06f), P Mervyn (0-02), M McGarry, C McConville, J Boyd, D Nugent (1-04), J Trainor. Subs: G Smyth for M McGarry (31 mins), C Herron for A McGuigan (31 mins), D Fox for J Trainor (41 mins).
Referee: Fintan McCotter (Sarsfields)