Realt Dearg C 2-12
Certain media outlets in the west of the country may have spent last week trying to claim a certain Mr.Kane, but for those of us hurling out of Drimnagh Castle, there'e only one Harry that matters, and he really is one of our own. We'll come to his scoring exploits later, because the real story of a day described as "bastard hot" by the referee came in the return of some of the club's former stalwarts, Harry chief among them, to get the C men onto the field.
Struggling all week and with a bare 15 set out in the programme (email, whatever), Kev McEvoy would have been biting his nails at the prospect of having to forfeit the game. But less than a decade into it's existence Realt Dearg showed that it has developed the sense of community that keeps clubs all over the country going as Mick Butler, Harry, Paddy Ryan Ger Kennedy and Kieran Parrock answered the call to drag the squad numbers to a frankly phenomenal 19 considering the clubs commitments elsewhere. Rumours abound that Conor O'Droma and Liam Lanigan, at this point a figure known only in myth to about 50% of our players, shed a tear of pride in private at the commitment shown as reports came through of Butler setting his GPS for Swords when leaving Tipp at 4AM, Harry leaving his bed for the first time since last years county final defeat, and Parrock sneaking out of the house under the guise of going to watch a match, hurls hidden in the boot of the car the night before. Sure a match is the best thing for a muscle injury anyway, everyone knows that.
There was still a match to be played, and once the reinforcements had been welcomed reality started to set in as a combination of the 24 degree heat, and tales of Fingallians 12-18 to 0-2 victory in their previous game pointed to an uphill task. The opening 30 minutes were as frustrating as any the C men have played this season, the accuracy of the opposition free taker and some really impressive scoring from distance saw the Northsiders run up a phenomenal score of 3-13 by the break. A smart combination of pacey youngsters to do the running and some to and accomplished veterans to do the scoring stood Fingallians in good stead despite some genuinely good work from Realt Dearg around the field. 2 point attempts that dropped short and ultimately ended up in the net put an unfair gloss on the scoreboard as Dave Sheehan, Ger Kennedy and Niall Heavy got some nice scores to lift the Star's spirits.
The suspicion was always there that some of Fingallians more accomplished stickmen might not have the full 60 minutes in their legs, and as the second half began, RD set about making use of the wind to eat into the lead. Parrock, satisfied with his tan after an unexpected sunbathing session in the opening half, added some much needed physicality to the full back line, and added a super pointed free from inside his own half in his cameo before his injury got the better of him, Caoimhin moving from full forward to keep up the good work and hold Fingallians goalless in the second half.
The scores started to come at the other end, and Mick Butler's arrival at half time added much needed fresh legs. The Tipp man was desperately close to getting through for a goal, inches away from controlling a pass from Dave S as we got a good hold in the game. With Finners and Cillian, the David Burke and Johnny Coen of junior F, battling wildly in the middle, sending grass, hurls and passes flying in all directions, the ball started to find its way into our forwards more often than not, and the scoreboard ticked over nicely with Dave rifling in a peach of a free Paul Flynn style from 30 metres out.
With Fingallians funnelling players back, the middle sector was getting messy, and the wise old, for once not concussed, head of Paddy Ryan came in to oversee matters and keep the RD half back line and midfield in order, but the real star of the show arrived at the other end of the field. They say life begins at 40 and at 41 Harry Stone proved that his hurling career is only getting going. The oldest player on the pitch by 1 year (take THAT, Fingallians no.13) the Ballyragget man announced his arrival on the pitch immediately as he got in front of his man, controlled first time, wisely ignored the calls of a wandering wing back not known for his shooting accuracy, and sent a sweet strike right over the black spot to rally the troops even further.
Genuinely dominant all over the field at this stage, (reluctant hat-tip to Maharaj and Brendan for all of that fitness work) the Stars just didn't quite have the scoring power to get back within striking distance, but they did manage one score that will be talked about for years to come from the Old Schoolhouse in Swords to The Terenure Inn. The details of the goal have become blurred in the mists of time, but in the hope of the legend becoming fact, I've been instructed to print the legend.
With time running out the returning Harry took it upon himself to turn the game around. Switching out to the forty, he plucked a puck out from the sky and embarked on a slaloming run through the Fingallians defence. All but paralyzed by fear, his enemies fell before him and by the time he reached the 21 they were resigned to their fate, as Kilkenny's favourite son lashed a rasper into the top corner.***
A truly crazy game of two halfs then to kick off the heatwave, with good performances all over the field from old heads and recent recruits alike. Richie Phelan held down of the middle of the defence throughout, Cillian and Brian Finn ran themselves into the ground and, hard as it is for me to say, used the ball intelligently throughout, Dave finished with 2-4 and Caoimhin was commanding when called upon at both ends. In reality 2 quick goals at the end of the first half put this game beyond reach when we deserved to be much closer. That 60 minute performance is still just out of reach for this team, but we're edging closer every week and next up is Civil Service, who we owe a beating after an epic league game ended in a 1 point defeat.
***Alternate ending, after a desperate scramble in the square Dave Sheehan lashed the full back out of the way and forced the ball over the line. Let the people believe what they want to believe.
Realt Dearg C:
Bernard Hurlihy, James Brooks (Kieran Parrock), Ross Kelly, Gavin Deacon, Dave Lynch (Paddy Ryan), Richie Phelan, Gary Walsh, Cillian Thornton, Brian Finn, Colman O'Shea (Mick Butler), David Kenneally, Ger Kennedy, Dave Sheehan, Caoimhin Concannon, Niall Heavey (Harry "Heart of" Stone)