Scoil saved by Ryan line
ST MARK’S 1-18 SCOIL UÍ CHONAILL 0-21
A last-gasp point from Joe Ryan salvaged a replay for Scoil Uí Chonaill as they shared out a thrilling draw with St Mark's in their Dublin Intermediate Hurling Championship semi-final at a sun-kissed O'Toole Park last Saturday afternoon.
A replay was perhaps the most equitable outcome on an afternoon where neither side played at their optimum, and both teams will look to improve if they're to book a final berth against Cuala.
Both teams will feel that they left the win behind them to a degree, with St Mark's forcing extra-time in the final minute of injury-time as the influential Seán McCann fired home the rebound after David O'Callaghan's free had been repelled on the line by a plethora of Scoil defenders.
St Mark's, themselves, will rue not adding to their narrow advantage in added time, with Ryan Farrell's late point attempt dropping agonisingly short and their opponents took full advantage as they levelled matters through Ryan's precious late leveller.
There was very little to separate the teams in a slow-burning first-half that saw Scoil take an early lead, through the first of nine Barry Cushen frees, in the second minute.
A wonderful score from Pauraic Naughton a minute later increased their advantage but they failed to score for the ensuing 16 minutes as their opponents placed a stranglehold on the Scoil attack.
The performance of Conall Rabbitte in a sweeping role was central to their defensive plans and he performed his duties impeccably and it wasn't long before St Mark's were level thanks to an excellent James Hillard point and a free from downtown by David O'Callaghan.
The momentum was with the Tallaght outfit at this stage and that impression was re-enforced as talisman John Kelly struck four points in succession - three from placed balls - as his side moved four points to the good.
Naughton stepped up to the plate with another cracking point to end Scoil's barren run and unanswered points by Ryan and Cushen left just the bare minimum between the teams by the 22nd minute.
McCann was already proving a key performer for Mark's and he showcased his abilities with two late scores to push his side 0-8 to 0-6 ahead by half-time.
With the wind at their backs, Scoil managed to restore parity by the 37th minute thanks to points from Pádraig Kinsella, Cushen and Naughton but they failed to drive on from this point as Mark's made the most of the possession that they enjoyed.
Eoghan McKay and Kelly traded points as the half progressed before the Scoil corner-forwards, Rob Kennedy and Neil O'Flynn, began to exert a strong influence on the game and their brace of points apiece looked to have handed their side a sufficient buffer as we entered injury time.
However, McCann's razor-sharp instincts was to prolong the contest as he showed the intelligence and desire to find the net and ensure a 1-13 to 0-16 stalemate by full-time.
It proved equally tight in the first period of extra-time as Cushen's three frees were partially offset by a Kelly free and a superb team score from St Mark's centre-back Karl Hore.
Cushen and Kelly continued to lead the way in terms of scores during the second period with Kelly's sublime fetch and point the highlight of an intense extra-time.
It looked to be heading the way of St Mark's prior to Ryan's intervention, who re-entered the scene after being replaced in the second half, ensuring a fittingly dramatic end to proceedings.
Scorers - St Mark's: J Kelly 0-13 (0-9f), S McCann 1-2, D O'Callaghan (f), J Hillard, K Hore 0-1 each. Scoil Uí Chonaill: B Cushen 0-9 (9f), P Naughton 0-3, J Ryan, N O'Flynn, R Kennedy 0-2 each, E McKay, P Morrissey, P Kinsella 0-1 each.
St Mark's: K Laney; P Murphy, J Bryan, D O'Flaherty; D Glynn, K Hore, G Whelan; S McCann, D O'Callaghan; J Hillard, J Kelly, Ciarán Rabbitte; Conall Rabbitte, R Farrell, S Galvin. Subs: C Burke for Murphy (25), D Kearns for Whelan (37), M Kavanagh for Hillard (37), J Cannon for Galvin (37), J Keilthey for Ciarán Rabbitte (48), Ciarán Rabbitte for M Kavanagh (70), D Kavanagh for Hore (80).
Scoil Uí Chonaill: D Mottram; A Cronin, C Coady, K Linane; D Levins, E McKay, A Wilson; P Naughton, P Morrissey; J Ryan, A Bunyan, P Kinsella; R Kennedy, B Cushen, N O'Flynn. Subs: E O'Carroll for Bunyan (46), R Coady for Ryan (50), Ryan for O'Flynn (79).
Mentors - St Mark's: Paul Kearns, Dermot Fahy, Francis McCann, Tony Bryan. Scoil Uí Chonaill: Matt Cushen, Tommy Naughton, Martin Hewitt, Dave Walley, Cormac Hickey.
REF: Fergus McGreevy (St Oliver Plunkett's/Eoghan Ruadh)
Wides: St Mark's 13 (6+5+2) Scoil Uí Chonaill 14 (5+5+4)
Conditions: Fine sunshine and a light breeze.
Player of the Game: John Kelly (St Mark's)