Dromin-Athlacca seal last gasp Limerick Premier IHC final win over Blackrock:

By John Redington Limerick Leader Sport

DAVID Breen’s wonder point with the last puck of the game proved to be the difference as Dromin-Athlacca returned to senior ranks by edging out South Limerick rivals Blackrock 2-20 to 3-16 in a thrilling Lyons of Limerick county premier intermediate hurling final in the Gaelic Grounds on Saturday.

In a riveting clash which produced umpteen twists and turns, the winners struggled to keep in touch before the break, then ripped their opponents apart after the break only to be reeled in by three quickfire goals in the last few minutes. However, Dromin-Athlacca then kept their heads to snatch the win just as the crowd were bracing themselves for extra time.

Maybe it was the ability to adapt that gave the winners the edge. Struggling to gain primary possession early on, Dromin-Athlacca emerged from the dressing-room with a reconfigured shape that crowded out Blackrock’s ball winners and left the space for their inside forwards to run out to.

The results were instant and, as the Kilfinane club’s puckouts and clearances failed to connect with intended recipients, their opponents swooped on the pickings to inflict 16 minutes of dominance on the crumbling defence.

But it still wasn’t enough to seal the deal. With their prospects of an instant return to the elite grade hanging by a thread, the Rockies’ threw full-back Richie McCarthy up into the centre of their attack and the possession gained by his strength and his guile gave the forwards around him a platform to attack.

The task may have looked next to impossible when the fightback began, but each succeeding goal built up a groundswell of conviction that just fell short of pulling off an incredulous comeback.

Despite Paudie Leahy’s free opening for Blackrock, their early chances broke down on the last pass and allowing Dave Reidy’s free and Peter McMahon to put Athlacca ahead.

However, once they ironed out the kinks, their midfield dominance led to points from a Colm O’Keeffe free, Leahy, Ruairí O’Shaaughnessy and another O’Keeffe free before Mícheál Reidy broke the sequence.

This score was followed by another point from brother Dave’s free. However, Dave missed the chance to equalise off his next free and, going into the second quarter, three points inside a minute, Leahy’s long free, and Seán O’Neill and Leahy again who sent the puckout back over the crossbar had the Rockies leading by four.

Dromin-Athlacca responded by pulling more players into the middle third and, after Micheál Reidy and O’Shaughnessy swapped scores, Reidy’s free and Daniel Scully struck back with points.

O’Shaughnessy replied once again but Dromin-Athlacca were denied an equalising goal when Scully’s attempt was smothered. They had to settle for a monster Reidy free that left them trailing 0-10 to 0-8 at the break.

Athlacca’s high octane restart yielded a point from Moloney’s free and skipper Peter Ryan’s equaliser.

After Leahy’s pointed reply, they stepped on the gas as the Blackrock’s puckout strategy fell apart and Reidy’s pointed free and scores from Scully, Jack Fitzgibbon, Mark Fitzpatrick, Reidy and Fitzpatrick again zoomed Dromin-Athlacca into a lead of five points before their gallop was interrupted by O’Keeffe’s free.

It proved to be no more than a tiny respite, as Fitzgibbon collected off McMahon’s solo to drill the sliotar into the far corner of the net. Scully pointed and, right on the three-quarter mark, Breen dispossessed Richie Murphy coming out and flicked the sliotar into his empty net.

Ahead now by 11 points, Dromin-Athlacca’s intensity dropped to give Richie McCarthy, now operating up front, and two O’Keeffe frees to nibble into the task of recovery

However, Breen’s reply with a point and Scully’s to a Leahy free looked to have taken the sting out of Blackrock’s efforts.

However, they still kept plugging away and saw their first glint of hope when O’Keeffe collected Seán O’Neill’s lay-off to shoot past James Kelleher and into the net.

Then, right on the end of regulation time, McCarthy fed O’Shaughnessy for their second goal and, after Reidy’s effort at an insurance point came back off the upright, looked to have sent the fairytale finish into an extra time sequel when McCarthy was fouled in possession and Leahy drilled the 20-metre free through the masses packed on the goal and into the net to level the game.

However, there was still time for one final twist. Fouled in possession off the puckout, Reidy put everything into 100-metre free. It dropped agonisingly short, but Breen leaped earliest and highest to pluck it from the sky, turn on a sixpence and then shoot over the match-winning score.

SCORERS: DROMIN-ATHLACCA: Dave Reidy 0-8 (5 frees), David Breen 1-2, Jack Fitzgibbon 1-1, Daniel Scully 0-4, Mark Fitzpatrick 0-2, Peter McMahon, Mícheál Reidy, Peter Ryan 0-1 each; BLACKROCK: Colm O’Keeffe 1-6 (0-6 frees), Paudie Leahy 1-5 (1-3 frees), Ruairí O’Shaughnessy 1-3, Seán O’Neill, Richie McCarthy 0-1 each.

DROMIN-ATHLACCA: James Kelleher; Mark Fitzpatrick, William Dore, Shane Scully; Shane Fitzgibbon, Peter Ryan, Shane Rabbitt; Micheál Reidy, David Reidy; Daniel Scully, David Griffin, Peter McMahon; Seán O’Leary, David Breen, Jack Fitzgibbon. SUBS: Cian Scully for Shane Fitzgibbon (50 minutes), David Mullins for Seán O’Leary (55 minutes).

BLACKROCK: Richie Murphy; Ian O’Brien, Richie McCarthy, Simon Hennessy; Killian Aherne, Liam Walsh, Brian Moloney; Marty Farrell, Adrian Cooke; Paudie Leahy, Colm O’Keeffe, Ciarán Considine; Ruairí O’Shaughnessy, David Moloney, Seán O,Neill. SUBS: Barry O’Shaughnessy for David Moloney (15 minutes), David Moloney for Barry O’Shaughnessy (35 minutes), Seán O’Dwyer for Adrian Cooke (50 minutes),

REFEREE: Éamonn Stapleton (Doon)