The Harps travelled the short distance to Rathdowney to face Rathdowney-Errill in this sixth round game of the Division 1A Hurling League. After a warm sunny day, some cloud rolled over to take the glare of a setting sun out of the players eyes and make for perfect hurling conditions on the fine pitch surface. The match began with both sides getting stuck in and both sets of backs on top of their game. The Harps John Prior was yellow-carded after 8 minutes when he was deemed to have fouled the advancing RE attack. Rathdowney-Errill failed to convert the resulting free though and from the puck-out the Harps managed to open their account with a point by Tadgh Sullivan from play.
The Harps added two further points by Eoin Clancy scoring from play. Rathdowney-Errill, encouraged on by the vocal home supporters got a foothold in the game when they were awarded a free in the 13th minute which they duly converted to open their night’s account. Rathdowney-Errill began to play the better hurling, putting strings of good passes together, but everytime they got within scoring range the diligent Harps backs got in hooks and blocks to frustrate the home side into driving several wides. RE stuck with it though and were finally rewarded with a second point in the 18th minute – from play.
Brian Dunne, who had moments later missed a point made amends by striking over his first of the night on the 19th minute to break the RE momentum, but credit to the home side, they replied with two more from play to level the scores with ten minutes of the first half remaining. The Harps then hit a purple patch of their own and drove hard at the RE defence and were rewarded with five unanswered points; Brian Dunne grabbed two from play before Shane Donoghue fired over a free (see video below) followed by James Lappin and Shane Donoghue both from play.
The final two scores of the first half were shared between the teams – a Rathdowney-Errill point from play and another Shane Donoghue free to leave the sides at 0-10 to 0-05 on the half hour mark. Photo: Half Time Pep-Talk.
The start of the second half saw the Harps burst out of the blocks and Eoin Clancy who looked set to run at goal was fouled. Marksman Shane Donoghue made no doubt about it and raised a white flag. Brian Dunne followed up with two points from play and Shane Donoghue also pointed from play to extend the Harps lead. A facial injury to Shane Phelan saw him called ashore to be replaced by Aaron Dunne in the 40th minute as Shane Donoghue converted the free. Moments later, Rathdowney-Errill at the opposite end converted a free of their own.
Sean Bourke picked up a breaking ball from Aaron Dunne and struck a superb point splitting the posts from the half-way line. Rathdowney-Errill though fought to keep themselves in the game and pointed two points from play to leave the scoreline at 0-16 to 0-08 midway through the second half. The Harps came back and added two more points from play, one massive hit from Shane Donoghue and another from Tadgh Sullivan. True to the tit-for-tat scoring flow during the middle part of the second half, the home side replied, yet again, with two points from play only to be replied to by Eoin Clancy and Ronan Delahunty for the visitors once more!
The final ten minutes saw the Harps finish the stronger, buoyed on by Kevin Galvins penalty save on the 22nd minute (see video above). Shane Donoghue then fired over another free moments later (see video below) to kill any hopes of a RE comeback. A few minutes later the homeside clocked up their last score of the night when they scored a good point from play, but with tired legs the RE defence could not stop Sean Bourke bringing his tally to 1-01 for the night when he smashed a piledriver to the home side’s net on the full time whistle. Final score: The Harps 1-21 V 0-11 Rathdowney Errill.
The victory ensures The Harps remain at the top of Division 1A having won all six games so far. The League table as it stands can be viewed here: http://laoisgaa.ie/league/76563/2014_a_c_h_l1_a
Managements Thoughts: The management team were pleased to get the win, but stressed that the next game still had to be won to make it to the league final. “We need to continue the winning habit and treat the next game as if it were our first – there is a league final spot up for grabs and we want to be there having won all seven of our games.”
The Harps: 1 – Kevin Galvin; 2 – Shane Phelan; 3 – Brian Galvin; 4 – Packie Flynn; 5 – Ronan Delahunty; 6 – John Prior; 7 – Conor Brophy; 8 – Barry Dunne; 9 – Shane Donaghue; 10 – James Lappin; 11 – Pat Walshe; 12 – Sean Bourke; 13 – Tadgh Sullivan; 14 – Brian Dunne; 15 – Eoin Clancy.
Substitutions: 39mins off: Shane Phelan on: Aaron Dunne; 48mins off: Tadgh Sullivan on: Brian Clancy; 54mins 2nd off: Brian Dunne on: Greg Aylward; 55mins off: Eoin Clancy on: Eoin O Sullivan.