On a warm sunny morning in the historic surrounds of Drimnagh Castle the hurlers of Skerries Harps added another chapter to the growing history of hurling in their club. They travelled south side on Sunday without seven of the side that needed extra-time to beat Realt Dearg in last year’s championship final. Even the most optimistic of their supporters would have shied away from a visit to the bookies prior to this game but the players that lined out on Sunday had a different mind-set.
In a contest that thrilled from start to finish the Harps continuously came from behind and finally burned off their opposition with a late scoring burst to prevail by a margin of four points.
The first quarter was edged by the home team mainly due to a goal from their danger man full forward Gary Hurley. At the same time the Harps were keeping the scoreboard ticking over with Andy Smith unerring from placed balls. Many of these frees were earned by his forward colleagues winning possession and taking their opponents on and drawing the foul.
Another great move from Realt Dearg resulted in another goal and yet Skerries kept in the game. The half back line of Jason Rogan, Donal Mcilgorm and Rory Noonan took a firm grip on the game in the second quarter and their efforts helped the Harps lead by a point 0-11 to 2-4 at the break. The highlight of the Skerries points came from Shane Davis who scored on the turn from 50m out on the right side-line.
Another Hurley goal in the first minute of the second half looked like it would be decisive but driven on by Robbie O’Connor and Kian Coleman in the full back line the Skerries lads didn’t wilt. Ross McGarry showed his experience by dominating the middle third and provide his forwards with a plentiful supply of ball. Despite conceding a couple of further points to Realt Dearg the Harps forwards kept taking their points with a great move being finished by wing back Rogan. Shane Rice who had a quiet first half burst into the game in the last quarter and following a great turn and run he earned a penalty for the Harps. McGarry dispatched the ball to the home net and restored the lead for the visitors. Another flowing move ended with McIlgorm in behind the defence but his screaming shot missed by a whisker. This miss didn’t affect the players and soon after great pressure on the home defence dislodged the ball and it was forced home by a combination of David Kelly and Jason Rogan.
With a lead of six points to protect and seven minutes to play the Harps bravely stuck to their task. Andy Smith, Ian Furlong and Cian Coleman put in Trojan work in the half forward line to support their defence. Goalkeeper Daniel Graham deflected a goal bound effort over the bar and Kevin Gilmores tireless running around the middle yielded an insurance point.
Against the Odds the Harps are facing into a second consecutive championship final in two weeks’ time. With the spirit shown in this game it would be a brave soul that would bet against them
Harps: Daniel Graham, Robbie O’Connor, Jonathan Fay-Watt, Kian Coleman, Rory Noonan, Donal McIlgorm, Jason Rogan(1-2), Kevin Gilmore(0-1), Ross McGarry(1-2), Andrew Smith(0-14), Ian Furlong, Cian Coleman(0-1), Shane Rice, Ciaran Furlong, Shane Davis(0-2) Subs: David Kelly for Ciaran Furlong