Last year’s Laois minor hurling champions travelled to Rathdowney to cross swords with Borris-Kilcotton in this Minor semi-final. The pairing was a repeat of last years final which went to a replay, so there was plenty to expect from the two teams when they entered the pitch on a sunny Saturday evening. Conditions were ideal for hurling with just a light breeze that neither benefited or hindered either side.
The Harps Gaels settled well into the game and had an early free converted by Richie Saunders. Greg Aylward missed a chance to put the Harps Gaels two in front when his long range shot drifted inches wide. Borris-Kilcotton leveled affairs in the third minute with a well taken point from play. The Harps Gaels put pressure on Borris-Kilcotton and created chances, but their accuracy let them down. Paul Simms in the 7th minute clipped over a superb point over his shoulder much to the delight of the travelling supporters.
Borris-Kilcotton came storming back and were on level terms in the 10th minute with a pointed free. Borris-Kilcotton added three further unanswered points from play in as many minutes to leave the score at 0-05 to 0-02 after fifteen minutes of play. Greg Aylward pointed a free (see video below…) in the 16th minute to close the gap to two, but once again Borris-Kilcotton responded by stretching their lead back to three when a point from play and a free were converted. In the 18th minute Richie Saunders fired over a long range free, but this too was answered with a free four minutes later.
In the lead up to half time, Richie Saunders added another long-range free before Borris-Kilcotton added another free. That free was followed up with a point from play and on the stroke of half time, Liam Dunphy denied Borris-Kilcotton a sure goal with a fantastic save. The Harps Gaels 0-05 V 0-10 Borris-Kilcotton was the half time score as both sets of teams went for the break – with the Harps Gaels ruing some of the wides and missed chances and decisions going against the team.
The start of the second half saw Borris-Kilcotton steal a six point lead with a pointed free, but the Harps Gaels’ Ciaran Comerford replied instantly with a fine point from play. Borris-Kilcotton restored the six point advantage moments later with a brilliant long range point by the wing back. Eoin O’Sullivan had a great chance on goal minutes later only to see his shot parried over the end line to win a 65 which was converted by Richie Saunders. Borris-Kilcotton as before kept coming back with answers and once again restored a six point advantage with a point from play.
The Harps Gaels clawed back some of the lead with two unanswered frees from Greg Aylward and Richie Saunders, but their efforts were soon dashed when in the 13th minute Borris-Kilcotton capitalised on a high ball into the square to flick past Liam Dunphy to raise a green flag. Credit to the Harps Gaels, they battled back and two further points from Sean Downey (from play) and Richie Saunders (a 65) left the score at 0-11 to 1-13 half way through the second half.
Photo: Donal Deegan and Seamus Campion watching the Harps Gaels in Rathdowney.
In the 17th minute, Borris-Kilcotton added a free to restore their six point lead yet again. In the resulting puck-out Greg Aylward was harshly tackled and tensions ran high with both sets of players involved in an on-field argument. When calm was restored the referee gave both teams a red card for their involvement. At this point The Harps Gaels made a substitution with Michael Moran being replaced by Donnacha Quinn. The Harps Gaels won a free but before the shot was struck wide, the umpires called the attention of the referee who dismissed Borris-Kilcotton’s centre back for an off-the-ball incident.
Moments later, Greg Aylward scored a point from a free, but this was quickly cancelled out as Borris-Kilcotton scored a free of their own. With only a few minutes remaining, The Harps Gaels were six points down and if there was any hope of getting a result, two quick goals were needed. The Harps Gaels went on the hunt and when Paul Simms was fouled going in on goal the referee had no choice but to award a penalty. Greg Awlward made no mistake and blasted to the net (see video below) to give the Harps Gaels a sliver of hope.
The Harps Gaels had any hopes of grabbing a draw dashed minutes later when Borris-Kilcotton landed a huge long-range point from play to seal the match. To add to the Harps Gaels misery, a 21yd free was saved right on the stroke of full time. The final scoreline read: The Harps Gaels 1-12 V 1-16 Borris-Kilcotton. Na Fianna who beat Portlaoise on Thursday night now meet Borris-Kilcotton in the championship final.
The Harps Gaels: 1 – Liam Dunphy; 2 – Cathal Phelan; 3 – David Doheny; 4 – Daniel Comerford; 5 – Ciaran Costigan; 6 – Richie Saunders; 7 – Declan Foyle; 8 – Sean Downey; 9 – Shane Fitzpatrick; 10 – Greg Aylward; 11 – Michael Moran; 12 – Ciaran Comerford; 13 – Eoin O Sullivan; 14 – Paul Simms; 15 – Padraig Delaney.
Subs: Donnacha Quinn for Michael Moran (52mins)
Scorers: Greg Aylward 1-03; Richie Saunders 0-06; Paul Simms 0-01; Ciaran Comerford 0-01; Sean Downey 0-01.