With most of the pre-match talk about Kilkenny and Galway, the entertainment continued into the evening as fans were treated to one of the best hurling matches in the championship so far.
No matter what they threw at each other, both kept coming back. Two committed teams went head-to-head to see who would meet Kilworth and that they both lived to see another day is just about fair. And full credit to Argideen Rangers who fought back from three points down with a couple of minutes to play.
Then again, it was a contest where neither side gave up as the lead changed hands regularly. Argideen Rangers had the best start when John Sheehan put the sliothar in the net in the first minute. But, once Meelin’s Jeremy Curtin, John Forrest, Denis O’Riordan and Ben Collins clicked into gear, they surged 0-5 to 1-1 ahead. Noel Coomey made a vital save as Michael Walsh levelled on 20 minutes.
DJ O’Sullivan handed the initiative back to Meelin when he drilled to the net a minute later but Argideen Rangers opened up a one point lead at the changeover, 1-6 to 1-5, hitting four points from play — the pick of which came from centre back Michael O’Callaghan from distance.
The first minutes of the restart saw Argideen Rangers miss a goal chance, whilst full-forward William Buckley struck a green flag for Meelin. Yet, the teams were tied again by the three-quarter stage, 1-9 to 2-6, John Michael O’Callaghan getting two wonderful scores. The same player was on hand to level matters once more entering the final 10 minutes, 1-12 to 2-9.
Meelin defended heroically and appeared to be heading to the next round as Buckley, John Forrest and Collins kept the scoreboard ticking over. They led by three points but in typical fashion, the Timoleague men rallied. Meelin gave away two frees and Walsh — who was in excellent form, was only too happy to convert. Despite their share of wides, Sheehan scored the equaliser on 60 minutes. They did have an opportunity to take the spoils but a 65m tailed out wide. A fitting result.
Scorers for Argideen Rangers: M Walsh 0-6 (0-4 frees), J Sheehan 1-1, J M O’Callaghan 0-4, M O’Callaghan 0-2 (0-1 free), F Butler and B Hennessy 0-1 each.
Scorers for Meelin: W Buckley 1-2, John Forrest 0-5 (0-4 frees), D J O’Sullivan 1-0, J Curtin and B Collins 0-2 each, D O’Riordan 0-1 (free).
ARGIDEEN RANGERS: N Coomey; D Connolly, L Harte, R Smith; E O’Brien, M O’Callaghan, P Butler; J Deasy, C O’Brien; J Sheehan, J Murphy, J M O’Callaghan; M Walsh, B Hennessy, F Butler.
Subs: D Sutton for R Smith (38).
MEELIN: S M O’Sullivan; D O’Riordan, K Collins, T J Brosnan; J O’Doherty, B O’Sullivan, Jerry Forrest; L Collins, J O’Callaghan; J Curtin, B Collins, John Forrest; C Murphy, W Buckley, D J O’Sullivan.
Subs: L O’Sullivan for C Murphy (52), D Curtin for J Curtin (59).
Referee: D O’Leary (Watergrasshill).