Eire Og CC were nine points down at one stage but staged a brilliant comeback to dethrone the defending champions
Éire Óg Corra Choill 2-20
Celbridge 3-14 (aet)
Haven Hire SHC Quarter-Final
By Ian Baker
During an enthralling quarter-final that required extra-time in Conneff Park on Sunday Éire Óg Corra Choill overturned a nine-point half-time deficit to dethrone last year’s SHC champions.
Level just twice over the course of eighty minutes, Éire Óg Corra Choill displayed unbelievable courage to overturn Celbridge’s three first-half goals to send the game to extra-time.
Keeping Celbridge to one-point over the two ten-minute periods of extra-time, Éire Óg Corra Choill delivered a twelve-point turn around in the final fifty minutes to win by three points.
Celbridge will be disappointed to have relinquished such a comfortable lead, maybe one that was too comfortable after Tom Fitzgerald, Leo Quinn and Mark Moloney scored goals by the 14th minute.
But when Paul Kennedy’s 45th minute goal injected belief into Éire Óg Corra Choill, they outscored the champions by 1-9 – 0-2 in the closing twenty minutes of normal time.
Instrumental in extra-time, Liam Dempsey scored his tenth-point at the beginning of the second extra period to enforce Éire Óg Corra Choill’s dominance and momentum.
Celbridge failed to register a score in the second period as referee Niall Colgan disallowed a Sam White point because the ball went out over the line a minute earlier.
Last year’s champions may well feel aggrieved as Dempsey’s sixth point in in the 56th minute of normal time came from a ball that several players and supporters felt was decidedly outside the line.
But registering seven wides in extra-time, Celbridge couldn’t harness even a tenth of Éire Óg Corra Choill’s second-half and extra-time momentum.
The champions just needed one or two points in the closing stages of the second-half to keep Éire Óg Corra Choill at arm’s length.
Speaking after the game, Éire Óg Corra Choill manager Johnny Enright would have beamed with pride, if he wasn’t emotionally drained.
Delighted with their second-half performance, “particularly the second-half of extra-time,” Éire Óg Corra Choill won the game without Garry Johnson and Liam Power, while he only introduced James Dolan late in the second-half.
Scorer of four second-half points, Conor Kielty gave an outstanding performance, while Rory O’Neill’s first-half goal and subsequent three points proved the capability of youth.
Almost dead and buried when Quinn gave Celbridge a ten-point lead in the 39th minute, bringing his tally to 1-3, Éire Óg Corra Choill’s dogged resilience chipped at Celbridge’s lead before an avalanche of scores started an unstoppable surge.
Suggesting that “even the first ten minutes of the second-half we weren’t really going that well,” Enright say that “Paul Kennedy really stepped up to the plate and really drove us on from midfield.”
Praising the spirit and heart shown by his team, Enright remarked that “we just got a bit of momentum and kept on going and kept on going. I thought we had the momentum going into extra-time and we just kept at it.”
“We’ve been trying to build a squad all year and you’re going to lose players in Championship games, and some of our younger lads really stepped up today.
“But they’ve been training all year and they’ve been waiting for their chance, and they took their chance. They have legs, they have energy and they have youth and they were just brilliant today.”
Scorers – Éire Óg Corra Choill – L Dempsey 0-10 (7f); R O’Neill 1-3; P Kennedy 1-1; C Kielty 0-4; K Connor and B Cormack 0-1 each.
Celbridge – L Quinn 1-3; S White 0-6 (2f, 2 ’65); M Moloney 1-2; T Fitzgerald 1-0; B White 0-2; M O’Donovan 0-1.
ÉIRE ÓG CORRA CHOILL: Paul Dermody; Paddy Burns, Danny Boyle, Brian Fitzpatrick; Ben Noone, Kevin Connor, Cathal McGrath; Conor Kielty, Niall Connolly; JP Crotty, Paul Kennedy, Barry Cormack; Tim Hennessy, Rory O’Neill, Liam Dempsey.
Subs: Ollie O’Neill for Connolly (21 mins); Daniel Murray for Burns (38); Murray O’Byrne for Hennessy (43); James Dolan for Crotty (53); Joe Dempsey for Kielty (62+).
CELBRIDGE: Niall Lanigan; Patrick Curtin, Fiachra Ó’Muineacháin, Sean O’Sullivan; Kevin Murphy, Niall Ó’Muineacháin, Michael O’Donovan; Aaron Doran, Billy White; Leo Quinn, Mark Moloney, Sam White; Tom Finnerty, Fergal Conway, Tom Fitzgerald.
Subs: Jamie Connolly for Moloney (40 mins); Paul Hogan for Curtin (f/t); Moloney for Connolly (63+); Marcus Kinsella for Fitzgerald (69+).
REFEREE: Niall Colgan.