It was a battle of the numbers 11s in Mountrath on Sunday morning as Cody Comerford and David Dooley engaged in a magnificent shootout, but it was Comerford and his Harp’s comrades who won the battle as they progressed to the Laois minor hurling final.
Rosenallis had their hearts broken at the death when The Harps scored two points in injury time to set up a meeting with Abbeyleix in the final next Friday night.
The Harps 0-19
A sunny but chilly Mountrath was the battleground and Rosenallis and The Harps were the two teams at war. The Harps, playing with a slight wind registered the first score of the game when Comerford put over a free straight from the throw in. He registered his second score, again from a free just a minute later as both teams showed a lot of nerves in the opening exchanges.
David Dooley registered Rosenallis’ first score, after a slick passing move involving Tom Fennelly and Cian Ryle. Dooley then pointed a free before Comerford responded for the Harps with two points of his own but Colm Bennet split the posts with an fine effort after winning a puck out from The Harps.
With the first water break approaching, Jim O’Connor’s point from a tight angle was cut out by two David Dooley points to leave the score five points a piece at the first water break.
Eoin McEvoy got the first point of the second quarter for Rosenallis before both number 11’s took over the game and displayed some impressive, placed ball skills. Comerford scored five and Dooley four and with both teams now experiencing a high free count, Dooley and Comerford showed fine composure to leave the sides level at 10 points each at half time.
The second half was much like the first, with both teams cancelling each other’s scores out. Dooley got the first score of the half from a free before points from Cathal Murphy and Comerford gave The Harps the lead inside the first few minutes of the second half.
However, Rosenallis quickly equalised from a free from Dooley. Murphy again scored a ‘65’ and a Comerford free levelled it at 0-14 to 0-14 at the second water break.
With the game now in the melting pot, both teams struggled to pull away and every time each team went ahead, their lead was short lived. Three frees from Dooley and two long range frees from Cathal Murphy and a Jim O’Connor point left the sides level at 17 points each as the game entered injury time.
Injury time brought drama. A long range Cathal Murphy point dropped into the square and Mason Creagh seemed to have dealt with it as he handpassed the sliotar clear of the danger zone.
However, the referee judged Creagh to have dropped his hurl as he handpassed the ball away and Comerford tapped over a close range free. Another fine long-range effort from Murphy sealed The Harps’ victory and brought an incredible game to an end.
Remarkably, the sides were level 13 times throughout the game, and it was a game which neither side deserved to lose.
Full credit to The Harps who fought right until the end and are now rewarded with a place in the 2020 Minor Hurling final.
Scorers: Cody Comerford 0-12 (0-9f), Cathal Murphy 0-5 (0-3f, 0-1 ‘65’), Jim O’Connor 0-2.
Team: Oisin Conroy; Stephen Murphy, Rory Dunne, Adam Walsh; Dan Kirby, Daniel Dooley, Ciaran Flynn; Cathal Murphy, Darragh Kelly; Luke Dunphy, Cody Comerford, Charlie Murphy; Dillon Foyle, Jim O’Connor, Liam Kirby. Subs: Glenn Stanley for Dan Kirby (57 mins).
Scorers: David Dooley 0-14 (0-9f, 0-1 ‘65’), Eoin McEvoy 0-2, Colm Bennett 0-1.
Team: Mason Creagh; Paul Egan, Aodh Bowes, Eoin Sharp; Ciaran Cuddy, Tom Fennelly, Colm Bennet; Alex Marron, Charlie Friel; Cian Ryle, David Dooley, Cathal Keady; Eoin McEvoy, Fionn Kempster, Diarmuid Dooley. Subs: John Kellett for Cathal Keady (28 mins), Peter Foynes for John Kellett (42 mins), Jimmy Hyland for Cian Ryle (45 mins).
Referee: Patrick Phelan.