Passage 1-13 Dungarvan 1-12: Passage manager Peter Queally let his emotions run wild at the full-time whistle after his 14 warriors battled their way to an unlikely semi-final victory.
The former Waterford hurler embraced his backroom team along the sideline to mark their return to the county showpiece following a three-year absence.
After raising the News & Star trophy in 2013, Passage didn’t get beyond the last eight over the intervening seasons but they showed resilience and steel on this occasion following the first- half dismissal of Liam Flynn.
“These fellas have character in oodles,” Queally stated. “They have shown it so many times in different games. When their backs are to the wall, they’re tremendous. We felt very hurt and disappointed to win an historic county final three years ago and then bow out at the quarter-final stages two years in a row. It meant a lot to us to get back into a final and to show people that it wasn’t a one-off.”
Matchwinner Owen Connors steered them home. The reliable dead ball taker finished on a personal total of 0-9. Brave net minder Eddie Lynch kept his team in the game with three first-half stops. Two-time All Star Eoin Kelly didn’t start due to illness but came off the bench to deliver two points. With his first involvement, he turned and struck a wonder score over the shoulder.
This contest came alive in the last quarter. On 48 minutes, sub Conor Carey set off on a mazy run and finished to the top corner. Despite facing the elements, Passage emerged on top in most of the exchanges in the second period and Carey’s strike earned them a 1-10 to 0-7 lead.
Dungarvan replied with 1-4 in the space of seven minutes. Patrick Curran drilled four frees between the sticks and Kenny Moore’s delivery hopped into the net to nudge the Blues ahead.
Two Connors frees restored a narrow advantage for Queally’s side but Kieran Power levelled for the sixth occasion. In the third added minute, Kelly broke the ball for Connors to steady down and fire the decisive score. Michael Kiely’s late attempt at an equaliser drifted into the arms of Lynch.
Captain Connors had reeled off the last four points of the opening half to allow them recover from Flynn’s straight red and depart 0-6 to 0-4 in front. Referee Alan Kissane dismissed the Passage full forward on 17 minutes following an altercation with Conor Sheridan.
The losers will look back ruefully on four missed goal opportunities. Curran had a first half major controversially ruled out. The Dungarvan number 14 followed in on the rebound after Lynch saved from Ryan Donnelly. His fierce shot bounced back into play however and Kissane deemed that the sliotar hit the crossbar following lengthy consultations with his umpires. Noel Connors shadowed his inter-county team mate at the edge of the square and held him scoreless from play. Earlier, Ryan Donnelly’s close range shot was swept off the line off by Darragh Lynch. A minute later, Donnelly again escaped his marker but Eddie Lynch smothered his effort. The Passage number one also thwarted Sean Ryan. All of these heroic acts added up for Queally’s troops.
Scorers for Passage:
O Connors 0-9 (5fs, 1 65’); C Carey 1-0; E Kelly 0-2; A Roche, L Flynn 0-1 each.
Scorers for Dungarvan:
P Curran 0-8 (7fs, 1 65’); K Moore 1-1; S Ryan, K Power, R Donnelly 0-1 each.
E Lynch; D Lynch, N Connors, J Flood; A Roche, J Roche, S Mason; P Walsh, M Baldwin; O Connors, K Fitzgerald, S Hogan; T Connors, L Flynn, R Hurley.
E Kelly for Hurley (27); C Carey for Baldwin (H-T).
D Duggan; A Donnelly, C Sheridan, J Allen; D Lyons, J Nagle, K Moore; M Kiely, S Ryan; K Power, C Curran, E Healy; R Donnelly, P Curran, L Ryan.
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