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Moments in Time: Duggan defies the laws of physics with incredible score

Peter Duggan point, Croke Park July 28, 2018 Galway 1-30 Clare 1-30

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Peter Duggan attempts to make his way through the massed ranks of Galway’s defence during the 2018 All-Ireland SHC semi-final. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Peter Duggan attempts to make his way through the massed ranks of Galway’s defence during the 2018 All-Ireland SHC semi-final. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Peter Duggan attempts to make his way through the massed ranks of Galway’s defence during the 2018 All-Ireland SHC semi-final. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

There's a great quote from the comedy classic Only Fools and Horses, where Rodney Trotter describes the remarkable knack which his brother Del has of turning a perilous situation into a profitable one.

"They used to say that if Del Boy fell into a Viper's Pit, he'd come up wearing snake-skin shoes," the younger Trotter once said - and that perfectly sums up the incredible feat which Peter Duggan accomplished on that unforgettable Saturday evening in Croke Park.

When you play with fire, you normally get burnt but Duggan managed to escape unscathed. Not only that, he was the one who inflicted the damage, despite the odds being stacked against him.

Clare were hanging tough against the reigning All-Ireland champions Galway just after the hour mark, with a grandstand finish in store when Duggan picked up possession under pressure in the shadows of the Cusack Stand, some 50 yards from goal.

It's not the situation a forward likes to find himself in. With opposition players in close proximity and no team-mate in sight, the attacker is left with no choice but to put the head down and try to burrow his way to goal.

Pressure

It's hurling's equivalent of 'The Gauntlet' from Gladiators but instead of the likes of Wolf, Saracen and Cobra, Duggan is faced with Cathal Mannion, Paul Killeen, Adrian Tuohey, John Hanbury and Aidan Harte.

It's Duggan against one third of a team and he's under all sorts of pressure, having taken his second catch by the time he is 35m from the Galway goal. Surely, the only outcome is a morale-sapping turnover for the Tribe?

The Clooney-Quin ace was having none of it, with an audacious flick off the ground buying him a split second and another catch, although he is pushed further away from the danger zone with Harte and Co putting up a barrier in front of their goal.

He ships significant hits, which would have derailed many others, but with the poise of a ballerina, he manages to stay on his feet and miraculously control the sliotar, one-handed, despite being off balance.

It's been a valiant effort but every man surely has his breaking point? Think again.

Falling away from the goal at an acute angle, just outside the 13-metre line, he manages to volley the ball off the hurl over the bar without taking it to hand for one of the most sensational points ever scored in Croke Park.

The big No 10 had no right to do what he did. He took on a defence single-handedly in one of the game's biggest occasions but he lived to tell the tale to draw the Banner level in an epic.

Eight seconds from start to finish, eight seconds of man defying the laws of hurling physics with a remarkable display of determination, athleticism and skill.

Ger Canning's words on commentary summed up the thoughts of the nation, as he wondered: "How did he do that?" after a piece of wizardry that confirmed his name on the inter-county scene after years on the fringes.

Seeing something like this, when working as an impartial journalist, is one of the real perks of the job. With no affiliation to either county, you can sit back and enjoy what you're watching, without rose-tinted glasses and appreciate it for what it is.

The immediate reaction is to look around the press box in awe and catch eyes with someone else who is salivating at what they just saw. There were no shortage of people in the same boat that day with Sunday Independent writer Dermot Crowe, a Clare native, abandoning neutrality, and rightfully so.

As an avid fan of the defensive art, my natural tendency is to resent the glory always going to the forward but this was an exception - and Duggan deserved every plaudit for doing something that most mere mortals could only dream of.

As for the man himself, the man-of-the-match accolade followed and while Clare may have exited the Championship a week later after a replay, Duggan finished the season with his first All Star and a moment of magic which he, and many more, will never forget.

"I just remember seeing a small little bit of a breakthrough and I said, 'Ah sure look, I'll give it a go and see if it goes over'. I think in my head I thought, for some reason, I had the advantage so it was a kind of a win-win.

"'Shoot. Shoot for the craic and see what happens. We might have a free anyway' so it was a cool thing to happen.

"It's a nice novelty to have a little bit of a thing like that to look back on."

He won't be the only one watching back on it for many years to come.