The Junior B hurlers faced Rathdowney-Errill at O’Moore Park on Wednesday night, August 13th in the County Final. A mostly cloudy, mild and dry evening made conditions good for hurling which was followed by a vocal crowd in attendance.
Rathdowney-Errill started strong in the opening minutes while the Harps took time to find their rhythm. Rathdowney-Errill opened the scoring stakes with a point from play and minutes later added another following a goal-mouth scramble – much to the relief of the Harps following.
The Harps began to settle and take hold of the game when Colm Dunphy was redeployed to midfield and after 8 minutes were duly rewarded when Albert Townsend flicked over a nice point. Moments later, his brother, and team captain Freddie gave The Harps a huge boost when he collected a pass back out along the 45 line and made a great run through the RE defence to blast past Damien Madden into the net.
The goal rattled Rathdowney-Errill who gave up three frees over the coming five minutes – all of which were converted by Shane Tyrell. The Harps were now in the driving seat and continued to push on when Albert Townsend pointed from play to leave the scoreline at 1-05 to 0-02 after seventeen minutes.
Rathdowney-Errill at this point made changes and began to get back into the game. The Harps under pressure gave a series of soft frees that were punished. In the lead-up to half time, RE had clawed back four points from frees to leave just two between the sides. These were followed up by Denis Lennon who grabbed a beauty of a point for the Harps – his effort could have easily found the net to put a three-point cushion between the sides again. Rathdowney-Errill would have the last say of the first half as they converted another placed ball to leave the Half Time score: The Harps 1-06 V 0-07 Rathdowney-Errill.
The second half started brightly for the Harps when Denis Lennon landed a huge point from under the stand. The bright start was quickly quelled though when Rathdowney-Errill added two quick-fire points from play after alot of fussing by the Harps defence. Shane Tyrell replied with an important point from a placed ball in an attempt to halt the RE momentum.
Rathdowney-Errill though were clearly on top and with the Harps defence at 6s and 7s, the inevitable happened – Chris Browne found himself with room to pull on a loose ball to strike for goal. Rathdowney-Errill were now in front by a single point. Credit though to the Harps, they stormed straight back down the field and landed an important reply through Colm Dunphy who raised the white flag to level the score.
Rathdowney-Errill continued to apply pressure and minutes later landed another point from a placed ball following Colm Dunphy’s tackle who picked up a yellow card. Rathdowney-Errill added two further points from frees as the Harps continued to be at 6s and 7s. With thirteen minutes remaining, the Harps made changes with Willie Dillon replacing Shane Fitzpatrick.
The Harps began to settle once more and after stringing a few passes together, Colm Dunphy took a well placed pass to run through the RE defence and blast a fine goal to draw the game again. The goal settle the Harps and minutes later had their noses back in front when Shane Tyrell landed another free… 2-10 to 1-12.
The last ten minutes of the second half saw both sides drive a few wides and as players tired, stoppages became common. In the 27th minute The Harps extended their lead to a dangerous two point margin when Shane Tyrell landed a huge free from the middle of the field. Into injury time, RE got a free from around 25 yards out and looked set to go for goal, however their effort floated over the bar to reduce the Harps lead to just the minimum once more.
Injury time seemed to last an eternity, the tired Harps men packed in behind the ball and fired every ball back out down the field. In the 33rd minute The Harps got a free in what surely would be the final puck of the game, the free was converted by Shane Tyrell. Referee Eoin Scully played another minute of injury time and The Harps held on for the victory after a very exciting finish. The full time score: The Harps 2-12 V 1-13 Rathdowney-Errill.
Harps: 1 – David Shaughnessy; 2 – Niall Donoghue; 3 – Cathal Phelan; 4 – James Larkin; 5 – David Doheny; 6 – Ciaran Costigan; 7 – William Dillon; 8 – Rory Moore; 9 – Darren Maher; 10 – Shane Tyrell; 11 – Rory Doyle; 12 – Freddie Townsend; 13 – Colm Dunphy; 14 – Albert Townsend; 15 – Denis Lennon.
Subs: off: Shane Fitzpatrick on: William Dillon after 48 minutes; off: Brian Farrell on: Rory Doyle after 57 minutes.
Title Photo: The Harps Junior B Hurling Team 2014.