The third round of the league saw The Harps travel to Fr Breen Park in Abbeyleix, the first game of the campaign away from home. A cool and sunny day allowed for a good game of hurling with the light but persistent breeze being the only hindrance. The Harps were first to score with the opening point from play by Michael Lannigan just seconds after the game got under-way.
Michael Lannigan added another point from a free before Abbeyleix opened their account with a point from play. 0-02 to 0-01 after just four minutes. A temporary blood sub saw Ronan Delahunty replace Pat Walsh for a moment while he got attention during which time Abbeyleix pointed two frees. Michael Lannigan brought his A game today when he sliced over a beautiful sideline cut to bring the sides level once more 0-03 to 0-03.
With the breeze behind him, the Abbeyleix goalkeeper came a little outfield and landed over a massive point from a placed ball, but the Harps replied with Michael Lannigan slotting over a neat point of his own. Shane Donoghue used his pace to give himself plenty of room and fire over a point to put the Harps in the lead once more. A close range free was then awarded to the Harps and Michael Lannigan rifled a shot but it just went inches over to raise a white flag.
From the resulting puckout the Harps sent the ball back into the full forward line where Pat Walsh was on hand to flick the sliothar past Enda Rowland to rattle the net – much to the delight of the Harps fans. 1-06 to 0-04. The Harps put on further pressure on Abbeyleix and won a free which was converted by Michael Lannigan. Abbeyleix then found a bit of form to close out the half with three pointed frees during which Michael Lannigan put over a second sideline cut. Half Time: Harps 1-08 v 0-07 Abbeyleix.
Abbeyleix started the second half with a point from play and another from a free inside two minutes. The Harps were slow to settle but when Michael Lannigan cut in a sideline ball, Gavin Dunne was in the right place at the right time to pounce and bury the ball in the Abbeyleix net. 2-08 to 0-09. The Harps then made a substitution with Tommy Moore being replaced by John Prior. Michael Lannigan added to the Harps lead with a pointed free, six between the sides.
Abbeyleix refused to roll over and hit a purple patch with three points from frees and one from play to cut the deficit to just two points after 47 minutes. Sean Bourke replied with a point from play, but Abbeyleix were still coming strong. On the 50th minute they scored a goal from a 21 yard free to draw the game and followed up with a pointed free to take the narrowest of leads.
Michael Lannigan fired over a point from a free to level the sides again but Eoin Reilly of Abbeyleix responded straight away to score a long range point from play to push the home side ahead for the second time with just 5 minutes remaining 2-11 to 1-15. That was as good as it got for the home side though as The Harps worked hard to close out the game and were rewarded with points Shane Donoghue, Michael Lannigan and Gavin Dunne.
Pat Walsh was then called ashore and replaced by Ronan Delahunty but time was almost up. Michael Lannigan had time for one more score and duly obliged by pointing a free deep into injury time. The referee sounded the full time whistle after the resulting puckout and the Harps won the game on a score line of 2-15 to 1-15. The Harps have quite a few weeks off before their next game against Ballyfin in Durrow GAA Grounds on May 29th at 7.45pm.
Managements Thoughts: Speaking to theharpsgaa.com after the match a member of the management team said that the team has room for improvement with plenty to work on during the six week layoff but were delighted overall to get the win – the third in the campaign, a job well done.
The Harps: Peter Walsh, Conor Brophy, Packie Flynn, Shane Phelan, Tommy Moore, Brian Galvin, Ross Young, Conor Dunne, Barry Dunne, Gavin Dunne, Pat Walsh, Shane Donoghue, Eoin Clancy, Michael Lannigan, Sean Bourke. Subs Used: John Prior for Tommy Moore (35), Ronan Delahunty for Pat Walshe (59).