After an incident packed hour at Fraher Field on Saturday, Waterford champions Passage were dethroned as goalhungry Dungarvan progressed to the semi-final of the senior hurling championship.
The youthful Blues held a commanding eight point lead with 10 minutes left but nearly lost their way in a thrilling finish. A proud Passage side brushed off Eoin Kelly’s dismissal early in the second period and narrowed to within two points when Thomas Connors scrambled home his second goal. They couldn’t complete another unlikely comeback, however, and Dungarvan boss James O’Connor was delighted to pass that late examination.
“We saw last year what Passage are capable of doing in the last 10 minutes of a county final. I expected that at the end of the game and they brought us right to the wire.
“It was just a great battle and a physical game from start to finish. Both teams ran the legs off each other so I’m glad to have won and now be in the last four.”
Dungarvan reached the 2012 county final ahead of schedule but, after beating Mount Sion and the champions in their last two outings, O’Connor senses another assault on ultimate honours. “For me, the Mount Sion game was a turning point because Mount Sion are a strong team within the county and to take out someone like that in the group stages gave this bunch of players a great degree of confidence because this is still a very young team. To knock out the county champions is another step forward again.”
Dungarvan had five points to spare following a feisty first-half (3-5 to 1-6). It started off at breakneck speed as a three goal flurry arrived in the space of two frantic minutes. A Ryan Donnelly cross was missed by Jason Flood in the eighth minute and Patrick Curran simply couldn’t miss. Curran created the second for Donnelly as the full-forward planted his shot to the top corner. Passage instantly went up the other end and Thomas Connors was on hand to fire past Darren Duggan. A flare-up then developed involving 24 players entering the second quarter and yellows resulted for Eoin Kelly and Jamie Nagle. The Dungarvan backs ruled their patch and O’Connor’s charges moved five points clear (2-5 to 1-3). Passage reduced the arrears to three through Owen Connors but a crucial turning point came a minute before the break. Eddie Lynch struck a short puck out straight into the hand of Cathal Curran who accepted the gift with glee. By now, that Dungarvan inside line had 3-1 from play. Five points was still the margin after 39 minutes when Eoin Kelly received his marching orders for a second yellow following an off the ball tangle with Aaron Donnelly. When Gavin Crotty tucked away a goal with ten minutes remaining, the last four beckoned for the Blues (4-10 to 1-11). Owen Connors plugged away for Passage with nine points and their case for a smash and grab suddenly became plausible when Thomas Connors tidied up a goalmouth tussle. Dungarvan accumulated 13 wides but absorbed the late bombardment.
Scorers for Dungarvan: G Crotty 1-3; Cathal Curran, P Curran (1f) 1-2 each; R Donnelly 1-0; Cormac Curran 0-2; K Moore 0-1.
Scorers for Passage: O Connors 0-9 (6fs, 2 65s); T Connors 2-0; S Hogan 0-3; C Carey, K Fitzgerald 0-1 each.
DUNGARVAN: D Duggan; A Donnelly, K Daly, C Sheridan; D Lyons, J Nagle, S Ryan; E Healy, K Moore; G Crotty, Cormac Curran, M Kiely; P Curran, R Donnelly, Cathal Curran.
Sub: Colm Curran for Ryan (H-T).
PASSAGE: E Lynch; J Flood, M Wyse, J Upton; S Mason, N Connors, J Roche; P Walsh, K Fitzgerald; O Connors, T Connors, C Carey; S Hogan, E Kelly, R Walsh.
Subs: B Fitzgerald for R Walsh (53); M Baldwin for Hogan (58).
Referee: M O’Brien.