Dicksboro 1-15, James Stephens 1-13
James Stephens were left scratching their heads after this one!
They played well, employing good tactics and using the ball intelligently. They led most of the way, yet they still lost.
Dicksboro upended them with a healthy take of 1-4 against a single point reply during the closing five minutes. And reserve power played a part in making and taking the scores that made all the difference in the end as the 'Boro claimed their second win in the senior hurling league at Nowlan Park on Sunday.
This was the story. James Stephens put points back-to-back by David Walton from a 65 won by Luke Scanlon, and through reserve Conor McQuillan after being put in space by a cross from Eoin Larkin.
The Village led by 1-12 to 0-11. It was the 55th minute. The 'Boro looked to be flagging.
Seconds further on Dicksboro county man, Ollie Walsh, who was tailed all afternoon and kept in check by Niall McQuillan, got a run at the goal at the country end. Walsh pushed and wriggled his way through, and almost from the edge of the square appeared to boot the ball. Whatever, the sliotar ended up in the net.
That was the game changer. Although the opposition hit back for a minor from a free by Walton following a foul on Larkin a minute later, the momentum had swung.
Paul O'Flynn had come off the bench for the winners, and with one of his early touches of the ball he swung over a point from 40 metres on the right sideline. In the same 59th minute another sub, Kevin Kenny, placed O'Flynn for a second score.
Suddenly it was all level - 1-13 each
On Dicksboro powered. Right on the hour mark a third sub, Oisin Gough simply left fly, on the turn, from midfield. The ball sailed over the bar.
The winners finished with a pointed free from Dublin star, Shane Stapleton, on 62 minutes to round off a whirlwind finish.
The finish didn't reflect the main body of the game, it must be said. 'Stephens, who employed the short puck-out game and took the 'find your man approach' all the way and played the game well, could argue that hard work wasn't rewarded.
The 'Boro, to their credit, just refused to lie down. It was their stubborn streak rather than any failings by the opposition that decided it in the end.
The 'Boro drew first blood when Stapleton received a long ball from Cillian Buckley before shooting a point. Moments later David Walton rattled the 'Boro cross-bar with a ferocious shot from close range.
The losers enjoyed better luck in the fourth minute when Tadgh O'Dwyer shot a lovely hand-pass to Eoin Larkin in space. The former county star still had a lot of work to do, but he barged his way through before shooting to the net from about eight metres.
That goal divided the teams for a long time. When Dicksboro finished the half with a hat trick of points from Stapleton (free), Robbie Murphy and Stephen Farrell they went in level at the break: 1-4 to 0-7.
Both sides were guilty of some poor finishing during the half. 'Stephens were the most wasteful, shooting seven wides.
The losers opened the new half with an early point from a free by Walton following a foul on Niall McQuillan.
They might have registered two goals during the following minutes, but Shane Donohoe shot wide in the first instance and then Jack McGrath batted a close range effort wide from virtually the edge of the square.
The missed chances didn't interrupt their rhythm. They turned into the last quarter 1-9 to 0-8 clear after Walton (2), McGrath and sub Niall Brassil all registered to reflect the slight edge they had in the play.
An exchange of points followed before the 'Boro put two scores together through Shane Stapleton from a mighty 80 metre free and Oisin Gough to leave the gap at two.
When that was stretched with minors from Walton and McQuillan it looked like 'Stephens had the measure of the challenge, and they would see out the job to justify the great work and labours of Jackie Tyrrell, John Comerford, Niall McQuillan, Luke Scanlon, Tomas Kehoe and company.
It didn't happen, because gritty defenders Conor Fitzpatrick, Evan Cody, Buckley and company kept the boat afloat until the Dicksboro forwards eventually found a telling touch.
SCORERS: Dicksboro - Shane Stapleton (0-7, six frees); Ollie Walsh (1-0); Oisin Gough, Stephen Farrell, Paul O'Flynn (0-2 each); Cillian Buckley, Robbie Murphy (0-1). James Stephens - David Walton (0-6, five frees, one 65); Eoin Larkin (1-0); Niall Brassil (0-2); Niall McQuillan, Shane Donohoe, Jack McGrath, Tadgh O'Dwyer, Conor McQuillan (0-1 each).
Dicksboro - Darragh Holohan; Conor Fitzpatrick, Evan Cody, Evan Carroll; Conor Doheny, Cillian Buckley, Aidan Nolan; OIlie Walsh, Robbie Fitzpatrick; Thomas Kenny, Shane Stapleton, Stephen Farrell; Robbie Murphy, Martin Gaffney, Bill Sheehan. Subs - Oisin Gough, Paul O'Flynn, Kevin Kenny, Edward Moylan.
Referee - Michael O'Sullivan (Ballyhale Shamrocks).