Sport does not build character, it reveals it.
We travelled to Milltown tonight for round 3 of the county league and after a pulsating encounter a point apiece was perhaps the fairest outcome in a game which swung one way and then the other.
We lined out without talismanic midfielder David Moran and wing forward Tom Hoare which meant a first appearance of the season for Shane Brosnan at midfield and Gearóid Dillane in the half forward line.
We had the aid of the strong wind in the first half and found ourselves behind immediately when following a defensive lapse, Jonathan O’Sullivan fired past Shane Foley to give the home side a dream start. Darragh O’Connor from a free and then Gearóid Dillane from play with a fisted point reduced the margin to the minimum but Milltown hit back and struck two points to lead by 3 after 10 mins.
The next score came from the boot of Conor Hayes following a lovely bout of interpassing and with both sides trading points we were level on the 24th minute, 1-03 to 0-06 Gearóid fisting over his 3rd point of the night.
We dominated possession in the preceding quarter due to the magnificence of Seán Walsh at wing forward who time and again plucked balls from the sky despite intense pressure - he had 5 marks in this period ensuring we enjoyed the lion's share of possession and when Darragh O’Connor pointed from a dead ball on the 30th minute this put us in the lead for the first time, 0-07 to 1-03 and brought the half to a close.
The 2nd half continued as the first half finished with both sides trading white flags but a long ball into our square on 10 mins saw the ball break kindly for the opposition and once again they found the net - we were now 4 behind with the wind in our faces and the gap was widened further when midfielder David Roche fisted over on the 12th minute.
It was at this stage that our resolve and character were questioned and we responded in great style with points from Diarmuid O’Sullivan ( free) and a huge score from Barry John from the wing to leave just 3 points between the sides - we were now hunting in packs and when Conor Hayes feinted and dummied his way through he was taken out in the square with the ref correctly indicating a penalty - Chucky came up from centre back and fired an unstoppable shot past their keeper to reduce the margin to one point again.
Milltown fought back and ace free taker Eanna O’Connor had them two to the good before Seán Walsh and BJ again levelled the game; Eanna again pushed them ahead, TJ Heaphy levelled when up assisting his forwards before Milltown again took the lead and when Gavin McKenna found himself one on one with Shane Foley it looked like our goose was cooked - however, Shane produced a superb stop to deny what would have been a match winning score and we made one final sally upfield to attempt to save the day - a free about 40 metres from goal was won and Shane came out of goal to take on the responsibility - the wind held the kick up in the breeze but the towering figure of Tommy was on hand connecting to fist the ball over the bar and that was that - it brought an end to a vibrant game played in great spirit and sensibly refereed by Brian Fleming.
There were times in the 2nd half when we could have folded especially when 5 down on two occasions but we showed tremendous heart and belief ensuring we did not leave empty handed.
Scorers: Darragh ( 0-04), Gearóid ( 0-03), BJ ( 0-02), Chucky ( 1-0), Diarmuid, Tommy, Conor, Seán & TJ ( 0-01) each.
Team: Shane Foley, Jake Foley, Ross O’Callaghan, Darragh McEllligott, Shane McEllligott, Chucky, TJ Heaphy, Shane Brosnan, Diarmuid O’Sullivan, Gearóid Dillane, Barry John, Seán Walsh, Darragh O’Connor, Tommy Walsh & Conor Hayes.
Subs used: Stephen Nix