The Junior Hurlers opened their Championship 2017 campaign this evening against a strong Castletown side who made the short trip to Durrow with a Quarter Final place up for grabs. Despite it being the middle of July, it was a notably cool and breezy evening and Castletown would be the beneficiaries of that breeze in the first half. However, it was The Harps who started brightly with Kevin Madden raising a green flag for the home side within a minute. Castletown struggled in the opening minutes and Freddie Townsend and Joe Ryan added further points – all inside the first three minutes.
Castletown though soon settled and their quick ball work around their forward line resulted in a point from play. A few moments later a rare Harps defensive error saw an unfortunate own goal conceded by the home side which gave the impetus for the visitors to hit a strong purple patch. The visitors went on to dominate the scoreboard with seven unanswered points (three frees) following an Evan Deegan ’65 in the thirteenth minute.
The Harps were certainly on the back foot for much of this first half despite their intensive start. Castletown crowded the middle of the field winning ball. The Harps managed a few attacks but these proved fruitless as the wides tally clocked up – compounded by wides from placed ball. The Harps eventually managed to convert a free on the stroke of half time to trail by four. The Harps 1-04 v 1-08 Castletown.
Whatever Conor Murphy said at half time must have been special because the Harps went out in the second half and fought and died for every ball. In the opening ten minutes Evan Deegan and Albert Townsend shared three points between them to cut the deficit to the minimum. Castletown got rare opportunities but when they did Sean Cahill and Shane Brophy were on hand to deny the Noresiders time and time again with Emmett Fitzpatrick and Rory Doyle driving out of defence setting up the next wave of attack.
The middle third of the second half saw the best hurling of the game from The Harps as Tom Dillon fired over the equaliser much to the delight of the home support. A break in play midway through the half allowed the management the chance to bring in a fresh pair of legs and Diarmuid Irwin was introduced in place of Joe Ryan. The score of the night then came via William Dillon who cleared a ball for Brian Farrell to double on to send it 80 yards over the bar generating raptures from the home support. The Harps were back in front and taking the game to Castletown who hadn’t scored since the 27th minute.
Evan Deegan put The Harps two in front in the 48th minute with a fine long range point from play out on the left wing. Moments later, Alan O’Connell was unlucky not to raise a green flag when his hard won effort whizzed inches over the bar to put the scoreboard reading The Harps 1-11 to 1-08 Castletown heading into the last ten minutes. A pointed free from Tom Dillon and an Evan Deegan point from play put the Harps further ahead as the clock began to wind down. Chris Dalton was introduced for Emmett Dunne who marshalled the wing back position well throughout.
The final six minutes saw Castletown drop in ball around The Harps twenty one line as they tried and tried for goals that the home-side were in no mood to give up, so it finished The Harps 1-13 v 1-08 Castletown. The Harps will now play Graiguecullen in the quarter finals at 7.30pm on Wednesday, July 19th at a venue yet to be confirmed.
The Harps: 1 – Justin Brophy, 2 – William Dillon, 3 – Shane Brophy, 4 – Emmett Fitzpatrick, 5 – Rory Doyle, 6 – Sean Cahill, 7 – Emmett Dunne, 8 – Freddie Townsend, 9 – Brian Farrell, 10 – Evan Deegan, 11 – Tom Dillon, 12 – Joe Ryan, 13 – Alan O Connell, 14 – Albert Townsend, 15 – Kevin Madden.
Scorers: Evan Deegan 0-06 (0-01f, 0-01 ’65); Kevin Madden 1-00; Tom Dillon 0-02 (0-01f); Joe Ryan 0-01; Freddie Townsend 0-01; Albert Townsend 0-01; Brian Farrell 0-01; Alan O Connell 0-01.