CELBRIDGE are just one victory away from joining an elite group after plundering 1-3 during stoppage time to see off old foes Ardclough in Clane last Saturday afternoon that confirmed a county final date with Confey this weekend, writes John Ryan.
Senior Hurling Championship Semi Final Replay
Damian Byrne’s charges appeared to be heading for a shock defeat when Tony Spain scored a fine 57th minute goal to give his side a 3-11 to 1-15 lead.
However, as the county champions threw caution to the wind, a spectacular goal from Conor Kenny – who picked out the top corner of the net from nearly 30 yards – a minute into time added on turned this gripping battle on its head once again, before Gerry Keegan, Sam White (free) and Mark Moloney added points to wrap up a four point victory.
It was a bitter way for Ardclough to lose and you could see the devastating impact of the result on the faces of all concerned when the long whistle sounded.
Ardclough, who eased into a three point lead inside seven minutes, found themselves 1-8 to 0-5 behind after 27, with Sam White pointing five frees, while Niall Ó Muineachain found the net in the 26th minute as Celbridge bared their teeth in what was a highly competitive affair.
By half-time that lead was halved (1-8 to 1-5), that after Brian Coulston cut in from the right before shooting past ‘keeper Niall Lanigan to the net.
The intensive nature of the contest continued after the break, with midfielders Martin Fitzgerald and White enjoying their own intriguing battle from placed balls as both sides continued to get stuck into one another.
Parity was restored when Ardclough found the net for a second time, this time Paul Fitzgerald raising the green flag when he pulled first time on a side-line ball
White and Sean O’Carroll pointed Celbridge back into a two-point lead while on five further occasions by the 55th minute only the minimum separated the sides.
The drama continued as the minutes ticked away, with Spain’s goal seemingly sending Ardclough back into a first county final since they last won it in 2007.
Showing their metal however, Celbridge had other ideas and when Kenny turned smartly before piercing the net much to the delight of his under-pressure team-mates, Ardclough’s hopes were dashed. Keegan, White (free) and Moloney added to their woes.
Sam White 0-9 (8f), Conor Kenny 1-1, Niall O Muineachain 1-0, Tony Murphy 0-3, Gerry Keegan 0-2, Aidan McDonagh 0-1, Sean O’Carroll 0-1, Mark Moloney 0-1.
Ardclough: Martin Fitzgerald 0-8 (6f, 2 ’65), Paul Fitzgerald 1-1, Brian Coulston 1-0, Tony Spain 1-0, Enda Duane 0-1, Richie Hoban 0-1 (1f).
Niall Lanigan; Conor Ryan, Fiachra O Muineachain, Tom Finnerty; Aidan McDonagh, Donal Moloney, Pa Curtin; Sam White, Niall O Muineachain; Gerry Keegan, Conor Kenny, Mark Moloney; Sean O’Carroll, Tony Murphy, Fergal Conway. Subs: Markus Kinsella for O’Carroll (53 mins); Liam McDonagh for Ryan (inj, 58 mins); Billy White for Conway (60 mins).
Aidan Buggle; Niall Coulston, Sean Buggle, Peter Coleman; Enda Duane, Richie Hoban, Robbie Spain; Martin Fitzgerald, Ronan O’Malley; Colm Buggy, Brian Coulston, Tony Spain; Brendan Byrne, Cathal Fenton, Paul Fitzgerald. Subs: Philip Fitzgerald for Hoban (inj, 32 mins).
REFEREE: Brendan Cawley.