On the Friday of Christmas week Caragh the league champions for the past two years travelled to the Ardclough GAA hall to take on Ardclough in Round 8 of the Division 1 league.
The champions after a relatively poor start to the campaign needed to get back on track as quickly as possible, if they were to give themselves a fighting chance to try and make it three in a row. With their arch-rivals Kildare Town setting the pace and twelve points clear at this stage in the table it was a real pressure game for Caragh, as they needed to get some points to close the gap somewhat. But they would feel confident having succeeded in winning their previous three games, taking all five points from each one.
Having to play this game in Ardclough would be the ultimate challenge for them, as very few teams succeed in coming out of this venue with points in their pockets or with very little to say the least. Ardclough on the other hand lying in second place would be trying to hold that position and increase their points tally to keep pace with the leaders. With another round of games after this one before we reach the half way stage of the league there would no need for panic from either team, but with home advantage Ardclough would have the edge to shade it.
On Mat 1 we witnessed a fantastic game of bowls by two brilliant teams. In the early stages it was the visitors that dominated, but within a short period the home team had levelled the game at 5 scores apiece. The champions were really getting into their stride by now and gradually built up a commanding lead of six.
Ardclough once again rallied to the challenge and within a few ends had the sides level for the second time at 11 each. On the next end the home team took the lead for the first time in the game, but only by the slender margin of one score. Back came Caragh to level up matters for the third time and then take a lead by one, only again for Ardclough to level it for the fourth time.
The twists and turns were far from finished in this absorbing game, as again the visitors gained the upper hand to lead by three, again in a few ends the home side were back in the lead but this time by a margin of six. With only two ends left to play it looked comfortable enough for Ardclough, but the champions put in a supreme effort in those last two ends to try and redeem the situation but just fell shorts by two scores. A great game, great bowls and great scores, what more could one ask for. Final score: Ardclough 21 Caragh 19.
Ardclough: Margaret Fogarty, Nina Delmer, Loreto Farrell and Ben Maguire.
Caragh: Pat O’Driscoll, John O’Toole, Christy McDonald and Denis Judge.
On Mat 2 this was every bit as intriguing as mat 1 but for different reasons. From the onset it was the home side that completely dominated the exchanges. They were so much on top we were left wondering what on earth had happened to Caragh, as they were completely being obliterated.
By the seventh end we were looking an unbelievable scoreline with the home side leading by 13/1. At this time the champions decided to introduce their substitute John Doyle and what an impact he made straight away. Suddenly the champs looked a different team and they started the process of hauling in their opponents. For the rest of the match it was all Caragh as they scored end after end and by the fourteenth end had turned the game on its head and were leading by two scores. On the last end a shocked Ardclough regained their composure to score two, thus ending the game with the score of 16 apiece.
This was a most intriguing contest as you are ever likely to see.
Ardclough: Olivia Maguire, Tony Maguire, Brien Cullen and Leo Tiernan
Caragh: Timmy Wright, Dom Kavanagh, Martin Lynch, John Murphy and sub John Doyle.
The standout players on view were Nina Delmer (Ardclough) and John Doyle (Caragh). Nina played a marvellous and consistent game throughout, and John without question had the game of his life, and helped to drag the champions back from the dead.
Ardclough will be very happy having secured four points from this encounter, and Caragh will surely be disappointed but can count themselves lucky to take one point home.
Recent League Results (home team first)
Div.1: Ardclough 4, Caragh 1; Caragh 5, Brownstown 5.
Div.2: Balyna 5, Baltinglass/Kiltegan 0; Blessington 2, Prosperous 3; Prosperous 0, Rathmore 5.
Div.3: Donard/Glen 5, Straffan 0; Hollywood 1, Naas 4.
Div.4: Balyna 3, Kilcullen 2.
Div.5: Kill CBC 5, Clane/Staplestown 0.
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