Gardiner spot on as Na Piarsaigh go extra for win

Na Piarsaigh 2-12 Dohenys 0-12 (after extra-time)

The city side were matched all the way by Dohenys in a match that developed into a gripping struggle; it took the tale of two penalties in extra-time to provide a resolution to the conflict. The first penalty arrived to Dohenys in the 63rd minute when Pat McCarthy was upended. Unusually Dohenys decided to dispatch goalkeeper Darragh Farr upfield to take the spot kick, despite the presence of hotshot Ger McCarthy amongst their ranks, and the decision backfired when Farr struck his shot wide of the post.

That miss was exacerbated in the 76th minute when Na Piarsaigh were presented with a penalty opening of their own. Stephen Glasgow’s marauding run was interrupted illegally by the Dohenys defence and John Gardiner needed no invitation to send the ball to the net.

The score pushed Na Piarsaigh into a 2-10 to 0-12 advantage and with time on their side it was always going to be a lead that was unassailable. In the aftermath the Cork hurling star was quick to admit that penalties in Gaelic Football are not exactly a speciality skill he has been honing.

“I don’t take many and lucky enough it went in. Let’s just say I haven’t been practising or anything all year! There was a bit of consultation with the line, a few fellas were sticking up their hands and a few more wanted to go for goal. At that stage of the game, a goal was going to kill it off. It was a super win. When the hurling is over, we concentrate on football so we’re delighted to make some progress.”

Na Piarsaigh manager Des Cullinane acknowledged the huge importance of the penalty, even if he had been advising that Gardiner take the safer option of tapping over a point.

“I told Gardiner take the point but he ignored instructions and went for the goal! But he went for it and scored it, that’s the break we wanted. The score gives a false look as we were never six points the better team than them. But it’s nice to be in the position we’re in now.”

It was a victory for Na Piarsaigh to enthuse about and they owed much to the input of key individuals. The Ó hAilpín’s brothers excelled in their sectors, Sean Óg driving forward from centre-back and Teu fetching a world of ball at midfield.

Substitute Aaron Hurley made a vital contribution in helping Na Piarsaigh gain control of the middle as the match wore on, while in attack Gary Sheehan’s strength and Padraig Gould’s lightning pace were key offensive weapons at the city team’s disposal.

For Dohenys the final scoreline does them a disservice as they were never six points worse than their conquerors. They had their opportunities to break for the finishing line but the core problem of an over-reliance on Ger McCarthy haunted them again. Their defence was well-drilled, their team work ethic was good yet when it came to scoring they generally ran out of ideas other than to look for McCarthy.

It took the mercurial Dohenys corner-forward’s input to haul them into the match in the first-half. Na Piarsaigh enjoyed a splendid start with Teu Ó hAilpín finishing to the net in the 3rd minute and with Sheehan impressing, they burst 1-2 to 0-1 ahead. But McCarthy began to sparkle with a string of lovely scores and by half-time they were back in contention when they trailed 1-4 to 0-5.

An early Gould second-half point propelled Na Piarsaigh into a three-point advantage yet the momentum then swung Doheny’s way. They channelled more play forward and McCarthy hit three points in a row, including one outrageous 37th minute effort, and by the three-quarter mark the teams were level.

From here to the end of normal time they stuck to each other like an adhesive, level on a further three occasions. Dohenys had finally discovered other scoring sources in the closing spell of normal time, Donal O’Sullivan’s 46th minute point their first from a player other than McCarthy.

But Na Piarsaigh’s Darren Mannix was beginning to come to grips with McCarthy’s threat and in extra-time that proved vital. Na Piarsaigh’s hunger intensified in the additional periods and those penalty cameos were essential in shaping the end result.

Scorers for Na Piarsaigh: J Gardiner 1-3 (1-0 pen, 0-3f), P Gould 0-3, T Ó’hAilpín 1-0, G Sheehan, D Gardiner 0-2 each, A Hurley, W Long 0-1 each.

Dohenys: G McCarthy 0-9 (0-5f), D O’Sullivan 0-2, D Healy 0-1.

NA PIARSAIGH: D Power; D Mannix, M Prendergast, R Healy; A Brady, S Óg Ó hAilpín, S O’Sullivan; T Ó hAilpín, G Noonan; D Gardiner, J Gardiner, P Gould; S Glasgow, G Sheehan, D McDonnell.

Subs: C O’Sullivan for McDonnell (41), A Hurley for Noonan (41), W Long for Sheehan (inj, 58), R McGregor for S O’Sullivan (inj, 78).

DOHENYS: D Farr; C Collins, D O’Donovan, A Murray; J Collins, M O’Donovan, T O’Donovan; M Farr, D O’Sullivan; P Collins, M Milner, P McCarthy; S O’Donovan, D Healy, G McCarthy.

Subs: P Deane for S O’Donovan (28), S Collins for Milner (55), M Milner for P McCarthy (67).

Referee: Conor Lane (Banteer)

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