Some astute side-line changes were instrumental in a much improved second half that saw Graiguecullen come from behind to beat Park-Ratheniska in Annanough on Saturday.
Park Ratheniska, after a replay defeat to Spink, were hoping to get back into the race as title contenders and when they led by 1-4 to 0-3 at half time, it was certainly looking good for them.
The introduction of three substitutes Jason Kelly, Liam Byrne and Shane Aylward and the switching of county minor Aaron Forbes from midfield to full forward totally transformed Joe Higgins Graigue, and they came from four points down to win comfortably by three points.
Park got off to a perfect start when Paul Brennan floated over from, distance and DJ O’Connell set up Mark Delaney for a fine score. They should have consolidated the early dominance with a goal but Sean Tynan saw his shot thunder back off the upright before points from Barry Murphy and Wayne Humphries, both set up by Ethan O’Neill had the teams level.
In the 23rd minute a speculative cross from Mark Delaney fell in the path of John Sugrue and the Kerry man punched the ball to the back of the net. Wing back Jimmy Langton made two scintillating runs up the right flank and landed a brace of magnificent scores for a five point lead but a free from Jason Kelly left four in it at the break 1-4 to 0-3.
Substitute Liam Byrne started the Graigue comeback as he landed a 47m free before a Shane Aylward goal gave Graigue a one point lead.
Another goal from James Brennan would prove crucial, and despite Mark Carroll’s late reply, Graigue ran out winners.
SCORERS - Graiguecullen: Shane Aylward, James Brennan 1-0 each, Aaron Forbes, Liam Byrne, Jason Kelly, Barry Murphy 0-2 each, Wayne Humphries 0-1; Park Ratheniska: Mark Carroll 1-0, Jimmy Langton, Mark Delaney 0-2 each, Kieran Delaney and Paul Brennan 0-1 each.
GRAIGUECULLEN: Leigh Redmond; Dennis Byrne, Dara Doran, Jamie Farrell; Jamie Malone, Gearoid Cuddihy, Aaron Forbes; Wayne Humphries, Barry Regan; Barry Murphy, Bobby Doogue, James Brennan; Ethan O’Neill, Shane Dooley. Subs: Jason Kelly for Doogue, Liam Byrne for Regan, Shane Aylward for Dooley.
GRAIGUECULLEN; Brian Ramsbottom; David Larkin, Martin Delaney, Benny Dowling; Jimmy Langton, Mark Delaney, Benny Greene; Mark Delaney Jnr, John Sugrue; Dennis Brennan, Kieran Delaney, Paul Brennan; DJ O’Connell, Sean Tynan, Mark Carroll. Subs: Paddy Kelly for DJ O’Connell, Fergal Phelan for Dennis Brennan.