Larriers leave it late to make their point
THE atrocious conditions in St Anne’s Park did not deter O’Toole’s and Crumlin from playing out an absolute cracker in this Dublin Junior ‘B’ Hurling Championship Group 2 clash at St Anne’s Park on Sunday morning.
Crumlin looked to be cruising to the points on offer when they led by six midway through the second period having played a superb brand of hurling up to that point.
However, a rally from O’Toole’s saw them hit 2-2 without reply and from nowhere it looked as though they would be snatching the most unlikely of victories.
A late goal from Crumlin’s David Meehan put his side back into the lead before an injury-time point by Conor McStay ensured a share of the spoils.
It was fitting for McStay to have the final say. His work-rate and all-round play from the centre of the field was outstanding for the 60 minutes and he was the driving force behind O’Toole’s late revival.
The draw was the fairest outcome in the end as both sides showed tremendous spirit to pull themselves back from extremely precarious positions.
Although played away from Blunden Drive, O’Toole’s were the home side and they got off to a dream start. It was however, rather fortuitous as they benefited from the torrential rain.
McStay was the first to test the water as he sent a long free toward the goal. It proved to difficult to handle for Crumlin goalkeeper Michael Frisby who could only watch as it fell over the line. Three minutes later Crumlin were once again cursing their luck as another long free, this time from Seán O’Keefe, also ended up in the back of the net.
The shell-shocked visitors battled back and went on to dominate for the 15 minutes either side of half-time.
Their recovery was kick-started by a goal from Keith Murphy. The full-forward was forced to improvise when he lost his hurl as he kicked the sliotar emphatically to the net.
Alan Curtis, who displayed excellent wrist work throughout, was growing more and more influential and his brace of points brought the sides level.
O’Toole’s responded through a David Concar free but it failed to stop the Crumlin momentum.
David Meehan, Jamie Maher and Paul O’Connell all found the target before the break to leave them with a narrow advantage at the turnaround, 1-7 to 2-2.
The game continued in much the same vein after the restart as the southsiders looked to increase their advantage.
O’Connell and Maher (two) did just that with their scores sprinkled around a fine effort from O’Toole’s Ryan Bergin.
It looked as though the writing was on the wall for Bergin and his side when Curtis somehow managed to bat a high delivery to the net to give Crumlin a healthy six-point lead entering the final quarter.
But then the aforementioned drama ensued as the Ayrfield men burst into life.
Paul McLoughlin benefited from uncertainty in the Crumlin full-back line to scramble home a goal. Bergin quickly split the posts to leave the minimum between the sides before Alan Kelly fired a 20-metre free to the net.
Time was nearly up and the message from the Crumlin line was to go for goal.
Meehan did just that and his shot deflected to the bottom corner.
It was then left to McStay to make sure neither side would leave empty-handed before referee Paul Faughnan brought an end to a pulsating clash.
The result leaves Crumlin needing to beat Erin’s Isle to qualify for the knockout stages of the championship while O’Toole’s look as though they will be eliminated.