The Harps welcomed Abbeyleix to Durrow for this first round of the Junior A Hurling Championship. It was a fine evening for hurling with temperatures into the mid-20s accompanied with calm conditions under a cloudy sky. However, the ongoing drought conditions meant a very hard playing surface for both teams.
Abbeyleix were quickest of the mark and registered their first point from a free in the first minute and it took a further five minutes for another score in a low-scoring first half. That score came for The Harps from the stick of Conor Brophy who commanded the midfield along side Danny Delahunty.
In the mid-part of this first half, both teams traded points from placed ball with Brian Clancy on target for the homeside. In the twenty-first minute the first green flag of the game was raised when Garth Singh broke through the Abbeyleix defence and blasted to the net. Abbeyleix responded with two pointed frees before half time to leave the score at just 1-02 to 0-04 at the short whistle with both sides guilty of some wayward shooting.
The second half opened strong for The Harps with a point from play by Fionn Whelan who was causing the Abbeyleix defence all sorts of trouble. Indeed, Niall Brophy pointed moments later from play, however referee Anthony Costigan over-ruled his umpire and scratched the score. Abbeyleix scored a point from play in the third minute, as the tempo of the game increased and accuracy improved. The next five minutes proved prosperous for The Harps as they hit four unanswered points in a row – Conor Brophy getting a brace (one from a free, one from play) and Brian Clancy and Niall Brophy pointing from play to give The Harps a five point lead heading into the middle of the second half.
Abbeyleix got two points from play to keep in touch and at this stage, an injured Pauric Dunne was replaced by Evan Deegan mid way through this second half. In the forty-seventh minute The Harps got a much needed boost when Niall Brophy scored a cracker of a goal to open up a six point lead. Even Deegan followed up with a long range point from the resulting puckout and Abbeyleix looked destined to receive a hiding. However, credit to Abbeyleix as they battled back hard and scored 2-01 in the last ten minutes, however it wasn’t enough as an Evan Deegan free and two points from play by Eoghan Doheny and Garth Singh made for a three point winning margin at the full time whistle: The Harps 2-11 v 2-08 Abbeyleix.
The Harps will find out on Monday morning, who, where and when they will play the second round of the Championship.
1 – Justin Brophy; 2 – Eoin Sullivan; 3 – Sean Cahill; 4 – Ciaran Costigan; 5 – John Dunne; 6 – Daniel Delahunty; 7 – Cathal Phelan; 8 – Conor Brophy; 9 – Eoghan Doheny; 10 – Brian Clancy; 11 – Rory Moore; 12 – Pauric Dunne; 13 – Garth Singh; 14 – Fionn Whelan; 15 – Niall Brophy. Subs: Evan Deegan for Pauric Dunne (injured) 47mins.