The Harps Gaels Minor Hurlers welcomed Rathdowney-Errill to Durrow GAA grounds last night to open their Laois League campaign. A very cold night with a stern NW breeze made it feel like early-February rather than late-April despite some sunshine. Despite the cold weather, both teams gave an entertaining game of hurling with some impressive scores taken by both sides.
Rathdowney-Errill opened the scoring account after 8 minutes with a pointed free after an early injury caused a delay. The Harps Gaels settled soon after though when Padraig Delaney struck over a point from a difficult angle. The early stages of the game were nip and tuck, Rathdowney-Errill scored their second point only to be answered by Johnny Doyle’s close range effort moments later. Rathdowney-Errill then took control of the game as the increasing breeze seemed to favour them. A long ball into the Harps’ endline wasn’t dealt with and Rathdowney-Errill took their chance which appeared to rattle the side-netting, however the referee ruled it was a goal and the Harps were now three points down.
The goal spurred Rathdowney-Errill on who scored the next three points without reply: David Doheny picked up a yellow card for a late challenge and the resulting free floated on over in the breeze before Rathdowney-Errill raised two white flags from play. The Harps refused to roll over though and finished the half with two fine points from play – Padraig Delaney and Sean Downey (free) adding much needed scores for the home-side. Half Time: The Harps 0-04 V 1-05 Rathdowney-Errill.
At half time, Tommy Kenna called Aaron Lawlor ashore and sent Eoghan Doheny in to contest the second half. Rathdowney-Errill started the second half with a fine side-line cut sliced over the bar to push the margin out to 5pts. Sean Downey responded with two pointed frees to reduce the margin to a goal. Rathdowney-Errill though came storming back down the pitch and blasted a goal to the top corner of the net which keeper Liam Dunphy couldn’t have done anything about to save it.
Rathdowney-Errill looked to put the game to bed and added a point from a free to go 7pts up. Sean Downey replied with a free of his own to keep a glimmer of hope for the home-side to get something of a result. The Harps were missing some scores at this stage and were matching their Rathdowney-Errill counterparts in the heat of battle, but could not convert their chances that they desperately craved as Rathdowney-Errill scored the next three points (1 free) without reply. Indeed Liam Dunphy’s sharpness of hands denied Rathdowney-Errill two probable goals in the half to stem the tide.
Midway through the second half a few positional changes were made which seemed to work wonders as the Harps came storming back into the game. Sean Downey and Padraig Delaney popped over two points from play either-side of a Rathdowney-Errill point, also from play. Tommy Kenna once again looked to his bench and introduced Conall Whelan for Sean Lawlor to freshen things up. Two further pointed frees from Sean Downey reduced the deficit to 6pts once more. Moments later, Sean Downey rattled the net to put the game in the melting pot with six minutes left on the clock.
The final minutes of the game saw Padraig Delaney float over a point from play. With the clock ticking down, the Harps went in search of a goal and laid siege on the Rathdowney-Errill defence. To their credit Rathdowney-Errill hurled heroic for their survival and twice cleared their goal-line to deny the Harps a victory. The Full Time whistle came too soon for The Harps and the game finished with just two points separating the sides after a very entertaining finish: The Harps 1-12 v 2-11 Rathdowney-Errill.
The Harps Gaels face The Fenians in their next game, this time the Kilkenny League on Wednesday 29th April at 7pm – this fixture was originally scheduled for Thursday night but has been brought forward by 24hrs. In the Laois League, The Harps Gaels will face Castletown-Slieve Bloom on May 11th at 7.15pm in Castletown. Clough-Ballacolla lost their opening game to Castletown-Slieve Bloom in this group by 4pts.
The Harps: GK: Liam Dunphy; RFB: Jack Saunders; FB: Cathal Phelan; LFB: Emmett Fitzpatrick; RHB: David Doheny; CB: Jack McEvoy; LHB: Declan Foyle; MF: Sean Downey; MF: Michael Moran; RHF: Padraig Delaney; CF: Johnny Doyle; LHF: Sean Lawlor; RFF: Aaron Lawlor ; FF: Niall Mullins; LFF: Shane Keown.
Subs: Eoghan Doheny for Aaron Lawlor (30mins); Conall Whelan for Sean Lawlor (51mins).
Scorers: Sean Downey 1-07 (0-06f); Padraig Delaney 0-04; Johnny Doyle 0-01. Rathdowney-Errill 2-11 (0-05f).