Inside Track with John McIntyre
DEPARTING Kenny Park last Sunday after two riveting senior hurling semi-finals, the over-riding emotion was sympathy for the gallant players of Cappataggle. For the second year running, they have now fallen at the penultimate stage of the championship by the narrowest of heartbreaking margins.
The Cappataggle camp will be understandably aggrieved that they weren’t awarded a free from their last assault on the Liam Mellows posts in a frantic finish which saw the champions admirably hold their nerve, with Tadhg Haran emerging as the hero of the hour with a terrific matchwinner from out the field.
There were a couple of periods during the game when Mellows threatened to pull away, but Cappataggle would simply not surrender. Armed with a huge spirit, they chased lost causes, threw themselves into tackles and inspired by a terrific display from corner forward Jarlath Mannion, had the title holders on the rack near the end.
Despite losing the long-serving Damien Joyce to injury before the break and James Skehill’s powerfully hit penalty thwarted by a fine save from his Mellows’ opposite number, Kenneth Walsh, Cappataggle’s resolve never faltered. James Garvey and Paul Claffey were strong influences in the heart of the defence while the likes of James Egan typified their work-rate.
The introduction of Darragh Dolan also gave them huge impetus as he rattled over three points as Mellows were repeatedly exposed down their left flank. With Mannion also firing over some great scores, it left Cappataggle standing on the brink of a famous breakthrough – a first senior hurling final appearance.
They were 18 points to 17 behind in the 57th minute, but Cappataggle threw everything at the title holders in the subsequent action. They virtually laid siege on the Mellows danger area and two points from Dolan had pushed them in front heading into the dying embers of a mighty contest. It ought to have been better – Skehill and Dan Nevin drove long-range frees wide, while substitute Michael Garvey spurned a decent opportunity after an opposition puck-out went astray.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
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