O’Loughlin Gaels 2-17
It looked unlikely for large spells in this mouth-watering tie between two old foes, but O’Loughlin Gaels secured their second victory in Group A of the St. Canice’s Credit Union Senior Hurling League on Sunday in UPMC Nowlan Park.
A strong finish from a side still wounded by last weekend’s disappointing defeat to Mullinavat was enough to inflict a first defeat of the season on an in-form Dicksboro team.
Ever-present in the league campaign, full forward Liam Moore gathered possession early on close to the O’Loughlin Gaels goal and decided to take his point to open the scoring at UPMC Nowlan Park.
The ‘boro doubled their lead soon after when Shane Stapleton pointed his first free of the afternoon after a foul from David Fogarty with the late inclusion for O’Loughlin’s receiving a yellow card from referee David Hughes.
Mark Bergin responded with a free of his own to open the scoring for O’Loughlin’s after five minutes and Mark Nolan and Robbie Buckley exchanged scores to leave the scoreboard reading Dicksboro 0-03 to 0-02 O’Loughlin Gaels.
Despite the early scoring, both defences were getting the better of each respective forward line in the first 10 minutes but the entire Dicksboro full forward line found themselves on the scoresheet when Bill Sheehan utilised his pace to the full extent to find a yard of space and get his first score of the game.
Bergin got his second point and his first from play as O’Loughlin’s looked to keep pace with a Dicksboro side who came into this clash defending an unbeaten record after a victory against Erin’s Own and a draw with Clara.
Páraic Fanning’s side showed their class as the half proceeded with their forwards looking far more potent than their city rivals who continued to be over-reliant on Mark Bergin as he responded to an excellent score from Andy Gaffney with his second free.
O’Loughlin’s talisman Bergin collected a long range free from goalkeeper Stephen Murphy to equalise on the 15-minute mark, but it didn’t take long for Dicksboro to regain their lead with a second point for Liam Moore and Moore turned provider soon after when he found Aidan Nolan who laid it off perfectly for Andy Gaffney and the half forward slotted it past Stephen Murphy for the first goal of an entertaining game. That was the last play before the water break as Dicksboro took a 1-06 to 0-05 lead into the second quarter.
The game continued from where it left off upon the resumption of play as Andy Gaffney threatened to score his and Dicksboro’s second goal of the game, but his effort was cleared off the line by a recovering O’Loughlin Gaels defender.
Although they struggled to get up to the pace of the game, O’Loughlin’s took full advantage of some unusually poor Dicksboro defending as Jack Nolan picked up a loose ball and his powerful shot crucially found the back of the net.
O’Loughlin Gaels had somehow found themselves within a point of Dicksboro and they were soon level with a third point from play from corner forward Bergin. 1-06 to 1-06 with five minutes remaining of an intense and hard-fought opening period.
Two Shane Stapleton frees settled a shell-shocked Dicksboro soon after O’Loughlin’s mini scoring blitz and Mark Nolan got his second point of the game after some good build up play as Dicksboro finished the half stronger than Andy Comerford’s men.
O’Loughlin’s did get the last score of the half through Huw Lawlor as Dicksboro took a 1-09 to 1-07 lead into half-time.
Bergin’s 100% accuracy from placed balls remained in place as he halved the deficit with the first point of the second half and Huw Lawlor doubled his personal tally with a fine score from distance bringing the sides level again.
In direct contrast to the first half, O’Loughlin’s were the dominant team early in the second half and a seventh point from Bergin through a ’65 edged them ahead after 35 minutes, 1-10 to 1-09.
Dicksboro’s equally competent free-taker Shane Stapleton pointed his first effort of the second half and made no mistake with his second, third and fourth efforts either to give Dicksboro the lead midway through a scrappy second half that lacked both fluidity and quality.
Stapleton’s cluster of frees would not prove crucial, however, as O’Loughlin’s came to life in the final 15 minutes in a tight and cagey encounter that was far from suited to free-flowing hurling and forwards who thrive off space.
Trailing 1-13 to 1-10 at the water break, O’Loughlin’s were in desperate need of a strong final quarter, and it looked to be on the cards when tricky forward Eoin Wall and a fourth from play from Mark Bergin followed by a fifth free made their comeback attempt increasingly likely, Dicksboro 1-13 to 1-13 O’Loughlin Gaels.
However, it was a case of O’Loughlin’s once again struggling to build on their good as the energetic Timmy Clifford pointed from the halfway line as Dicksboro managed to score at crucial times but the most crucial score came from O’Loughlin’s when Jack Nolan followed in on a Brian Manogue save to clinch his and O’Loughlin’s second goal and in the process move them into a two-point lead with five minutes left on the clock, Dicksboro 1-14 to 2-13 O’Loughlin Gaels.
Another Bergin free extended their lead to three points and centre forward Eoin O’Shea, who had a relatively quiet game by his high standards, showed his class to make it a two-score game with two well-taken points as the momentum had completely swung in O’Loughlin’s favour.
Conor Kelly added a late free for O’Loughlin’s as a strong final 15 minutes where they came from three points behind to eventually win by six points was the difference in a tentative affair between two traditional rivals.