That Valley Rovers will have more fond memories is not to say that their near rivals Courcey will despair, for they were in with a chance right up to the 58th minute when a couple of Valley Rover points allowed them to ease into a four point lead.
The hero of the hour was Chris O’Leary, whose 53rd minute goal pushed his side back into the driving seat after they had struggled for a good part of the second half. O’Leary’s goal was just part of his contribution and the seven points he added throughout the game had a major part to play in the outcome of his exciting match.
After trailing narrowly at the break, Courcey stormed in front early in the second half when Stephen Nyhan smashed a goal home after Valley keeper Willie Burke had pushed away a shot from Colm Daly, but they were unable to sustain the offensive into those last dramatic minutes.
Valley Rovers team manager Joe Crowley was happy to have escaped with the win though:
“We knew coming out it was going to be a dogfight and it was a really tough game decided by one or two scores in the end. It was a very good game of hurling, not a foul stroke, there were some great scores and we were delighted to have come out on the right side of it.
“We meet Inniscarra next but that’s going to be tough considering we gave them a bit of a beating last year.”
Valley Rovers led at the break by just a point after an eventful and hard-fought 30 minutes. Courcey enjoyed the better start, storming into the lead with two points by Daire Lordan. Gavin Moloney, Stephen Nyhan and Colm Daly added three more and Valley were struggling somewhat to get into the game.
They got on the board with a couple of points from Kevin Canty but with the Courcey defence on top it was a tough ask to get into the contest.
They did so, however, with points from O’Leary (free), Canty and Jack Walsh and the sides were level by the midway point of the half.
O’Leary knocked over three successive frees as the game turned Valley’s way but Lordan responded with two in the last couple of minutes to leave his side just one point adrift, and both sides had it all to play for after the break.
Only one side could win, though, and Courcey team manager Diarmuid Fahy conceded that Valley probably deserved to win. “Still, there’s a lot of good from that game we can take out.”
C O’Leary 1-7 (0-7 frees), K Canty 0-4, J Walsh 0-3, J Cottrell, D Looney 0-1 each.
S Nyhan 1-2, D Lordan 0-5 (0-2 frees), G Moloney 0-3, C Daly and T Collins 0-1 each
W Burke, T O’Brien, N O’Donovan, F Coughlan, C Desmond, D Lynch, J Lynch, G Farrell, S O’Regan, D Crowley, J Crowley, J Cottrell, K Canty, J Walsh, C O’Leary.
D Looney for J Crowley (45)
M White, K Collins, K Moloney, D Collins, B Collins, J O’Neill, V Hurley, F Lordan, D Lordan, S Moloney, T Collins, S Lordan, G Moloney, S Nyhan, C Daly.
J O’Regan for C Daly (33, injured)
D Copps (Ballyhea).