This was a game that carried many rewards for Naas, a win seeing them safely through to the Championship semi-final, lose and they would be fighting it out with a spot in the play-offs, writes Tara Byrne.
Senior Hurling Championship
Coill Dubh: 0-12
For Coill Dubh this game was equally as important, a win for them ensuring a play-off spot, a loss possibly ending there 2012 Championship run.
And from the off the importance was evident for all too witness, Coill Dubh setting the early pace with a first minute free from the stick of Thomas Byrne to give them an early lead.
Following this a long ball in by Coill Dubh’s Tom Carew, wasn’t dealt with by Naas shot stopper Cormac Gallagher, and under pressure from Declan Flaherty, he cleared only as far as corner forward Ryan Casey. Casey pointed to double Coill Dubh’s lead, putting them 0-2 to 0-0 after 4 minutes of play.
It wasn’t until the 6th minute that Naas managed to find their way onto the scoreboard through Paul Sullivan, after he won the break from the puck out, pushing forward with the ball on his stick to point Naas’ first of the evening.
The next 7 minutes were filled with everything you would want to see at this level, with the exception of scores. Breaking this deadlock was Mark Hennessy getting Naas’ second to level matters. Naas were to take the lead moments later through Donal McSweeney after he received the ball from Sullivan in a neat hand pass to point from all of 65 meters.
The sides were to be level again through a Ruairi Hayden point. This, the second times the sides were level was to last less than a minute as Nass had hit back within 60 seconds with a second point from the stick of Sullivan.
The fiery corner forward Casey proved a handful all night for the Naas defence popping up to hit his second 45 meters from goals to level matters for a third time at 4 points apiece.
In the final 10 minutes of the first half, points form Philip Cocoman and Sean Gainey pushed Naas into a 2 point lead, giving them a little room for manoeuvre, for the first time in the game.
This lead was hauled back in a minute by Coill Dubh late on in the half, a Tom Carew point followed by another by Casey.
As half time approached Naas pushed forward looking for the break that would give them a lead to take into the dressing room. Three quick points in the space of three minutes gave Coill Dubh no time to respond before the half-time whistle, leaving them nursing a three point deficit, 0-9 to 0-6.
The second half was a case of working out where the uprights were for the Naas side. Hitting seven consecutive wides, anyone would think would they soon come to rue there missed cuing.
The first point of the half taking seven minutes to come, Casey again appearing to point reducing the Coill Dubh deficit to two. This was surly the point of the game as Casey received the ball on the right hand side of the pitch, showing great ball control he beat McSweeney and duly converted..
Four more Coill Dubh points, two from Hayden and two more from Tom Carew, saw them take the lead again for the first time since the 13th minute of the first half. They were now 0-11 to 0-9 ahead.
Failing to score for 21 minutes of the second half, Naas, trailing by two needed to start scoring. A free and a 65 from Gainey levelled matters for the sixth time. Cocoman then hit his third with two minutes remaining, edging Naas into the lead yet again.
A final Coill Dubh comeback was sparked by sub Kevin O’Toole as he pointed late on to bring the game level for a breathtaking seventh time.
The game had gone into injury time and with the sides deadlocked it waas all to play for. It was then that Naas’ Gainey stepped up to point a 65 late on. As injury time continued full-forward Mike Purcell popped up to point giving his side a two point margin, come the final whistle.
Victory had ensured Naas finish the group stages of the Championship unbeaten, and this win guarantees them a semi-final spot, without having to go through the play-offs.
Prior to the start of the game a minute’s silence was held in honour of Tony Carew who sadly passed away last week.
Cormac Gallagher; Darach MacDonncha, Mark Carter, Donal McSweeney 0-1; Eamonn Leamy, John O’Malley, Ross Bergin; Paul Sullivan 0-2, Kevin Whelan; Philip Cocoman 0-3, Mark Hennessy 0-1, Peader Downey; Sean Gainey 0-5 (2f, 65), Mick Purcell 0-2, Kevin Byrne. Subs: John Dunne for MacDonncha, 46; Stephen Piggott for Byrne, 49.
Chris Byrne; Dean O’Regan, Mark Grace, Damien Fox; Ross Carew, Eanna O’Neill, Barry Cahill; Damien Behan, Tom Carew 0-3; Declan Flaherty, Thomas Byrne 0-1f, Adrian McAndrew; Ruairi Hayden 0-3 (2f), Mark Delaney, Ryan Casey 0-4. Subs: Noel Casey for Delaney, 36; Kevin O’Toole 0-1 for Hayden, 53.
Fergus Deveraus Snr.