PIHC: Watergrasshill level at the death against Éire Óg

Colin Cronin was the hero for the underdogs against the dual club from Ovens
PIHC: Watergrasshill level at the death against Éire Óg

Watergrasshill's Kieran O'Keeffe clears the sliothar away from Éire Óg's Oisin O'Shea during the PIHC match in Blarney. Picture: Howard Crowdy

Éire Óg 2-10 Watergrasshill 0-16 

DIFFICULT conditions for both teams at rain-sodden Blarney with honours even in a competitive Co Op Superstores Premier Intermediate Hurling Championship opener.

Watergrasshill went into the game as outsiders after losing a key player Shane O’Regan to Sars in the off-season and defeat was staring them in the face deep into added time but sub Colin Cronin struck a monstrous leveller.

Credit to their commitment Watergrasshill showed far better energy than their opponents in the early exchanges with Daire O’Leary only taking 15 seconds to strike over the opening point. Further white flags from Paddy O’Regan and Brendan Lehane edged them further ahead before the lethargic Éire Óg outfit suddenly realised they were in championship action.

Consecutive Kevin Hallissey points in the 13th and 14th minutes settled them with Lar Considine levelling the game a minute later.

On the next possession, the Hill were unlucky not to raise a green flag when an Ian O’Callaghan flicked shot went inches wide of the post.

Watergrasshill were intent on winning dirty ball and consecutive scores gave them a two-point cushion before Éire Óg caught them napping with a sucker punch goal. A superb save by the Watergrasshill keeper Anthony Foley went into the path of Cork footballer Colm O’Callaghan who made no mistake from close range.

Suddenly Éire Óg the dominant force and with six minutes remaining a high Hallissey ball was met by Joe Cooper whose powerful shot gave the keeper no chance.

Despite the rain getting heavier as the halftime whistle beckoned a Paddy O’Regan point from a placed ball ensured Watergrasshill reduced the deficit to two at the break, 2-4 to 0-8.

On the restart, Anthony Cronin brought the minimum between the teams as they both continued to show true resilience in their battle for possession.

The closing quarter was epic and when James Gowen split the posts with two minutes remaining Watergrasshill led by the minimum.

Éire Óg didn’t panic as substitute Dylan Foley tied the game but Watergrasshill were punished with a very dubious free as the over-reliable Hallissey looked to have won the game for the Ovens side.

Fortune deservedly favoured the brave at the death as the Watergrasshill substitute Cronin produced one moment of class that gave his side a well-deserved draw.

In the end, it was a fair result as both sides should be commended on their commitment in a game that was played in a sporting manner from start to finish.

Scorers for Éire Óg: K Hallisey 0-5 f, J Cooper 1-2, C O’Callaghan 1-0, L Considine 0-2, D Foley, S Desmond 0-1 each. 

Watergrasshill: P O’Regan 0-5 f, B Lehane, S Desmond, A Cronin 0-2 each, D O’Leary, P O’Leary (f), J Gowen, C Cronin 0-1 each.

ÉIRE ÓG: D Desmond; J Kelleher, D Dineen, J Mullins; D McCarthy, Cathal Sheehan, D Coakley; R O’Toole, D Kirwan; O O’Shea, K Hallissey, J Cooper; C O’Callaghan, L Considine, J Kelleher.

WATERGRASSHILL: A Foley; P Cronin, A Ricken, J Gowen; K O’Neill, D O’Leary, D O’Farrell; K O’Keeffe, R Murray; B Lehane, A Spriggs, A Cronin; I O’Callaghan, S Desmond, P O’Regan.

Subs: P O’Leary for I O’Callaghan (h-t), B Maloney for R Murray (43), C Cronin for K O’Keeffe (inj 57).

Referee: Alan O’Connor (Ballygarvan).

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