Passage the victors in epic intermediate final

James Heffernan and Michael Murphy celebrate after the game.

James Heffernan and Michael Murphy celebrate after the game.

Passage East 2-16; Dungarvan 1-13

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After a lapse of five seasons, Passage make a welcome return to senior hurling ranks in 2008, following their exciting and thrilling 2-16 to 1-13 win over Dungarvan in last Saturday’s County Intermediate Hurling Championship decider at Walsh Park. This was indeed a fitting climax to what has been a most invigorating competition waged in both Divisions this year. In the end victory unquestionably rested where it belonged, and there is little doubt that the winners will be an invaluable asset to the premier grade next season, while the Old Boro’s return to the top flight cannot be too long delayed, despite failing for the second time running to overcome the final hurdle. For even in defeat Dungarvan contributed to what can only be described as an outstanding decider, and worthy to be acclaimed as one of the games of 2007.

Rip roaring first half

Overcast November weather following a heavy previous night’s frost may not have been the ideal ingredients for a first class finale to the Intermediate Hurling Championship , but to their ever lasting credit, both Passage and Dungarvan rose to the occasion in great style, and gave the fairly large Saturday afternoon attendance at the Slievekeale Road venue, a great deal to enthuse, with the standard of hurling on offer exceptional throughout.

It was touch and go for most of a rip roaring opening half, the with equality existing on four successive occasions during the initial quarter alone, there wasn’t a puck of ball between the sides, until Dungarvan on merit alone went two points clear with less than six minute to go for half time. Then Passage struck a real purple patch in the time at their disposal – Eoin Kelly who had been strangely subdued up until then, cut loose, rifled over a couple of superb points and a goal of vintage quality, and when minor Eoin Connors who had been the winners star forward from the very beginning, struck for a somewhat speculative second Passage goal just before the short whistle, an incredible gap of nine points had opened up between the teams at the break.

Further in front

The Suirsiders in fact took up where they had left off before recess, and when they tagged on three early second half points, Dungarvan whose last point was recorded in the 18th minute, found themselves with virtually an impossible mountain to climb, and to all intents and purposes almost out of the equation. Then in courageous and delightful fashion the Western champions not only responded where it mattered most, but emphatically carried the game to their Eastern counterparts and the net outcome was a heart warming comeback, that went mighty close to causing a huge sensation. Bit by bit they eat into the Passage lead and scorned at least one gilt edged goal scoring chance at a crucial stage, and as the game entered the closing stages the deficit had been reduced to four points – Passage did manage to steady the ship in team, and responded with a brace of classical additional points in the dying moments, to sign, seal and deliver a thoroughly deserved and memorable 2-16 to 1-13 victory.

The scoring pattern

The large attendance came in quest of a sparkling match, and by and large weren’t disappointed. The game was less than a minute old, when Jamie Nagle the highly influential Dungarvan midfielder and member of this year’s county senior panel, slotted his side into lead with a well delivered point from a free. A minute later, Conor Carey another of Justin McCarthy’s intercounty squad, brought about parity for the first time, and the scene was firmly set for what developed into a pulsating affair. Both teams had wides in turn, before Jamie Nagle from another placed position, put the Blues back in front after ten minutes and with Rory Walsh showing up remarkably well on the 40 yards mark for the Eastern men, it didn’t come as too much of a surprise, when the ‘exciting’ Eoin Connors, levelled proceedings a second time in the 12th minute, putting the finishing touch to a timely clearance out of his own defence by James Heffernan. Not to be outdone another of the Decies rich crop of under age players, Gavin Crotty had Dungarvan back in front inside a further sixty seconds, and how the large Passage following cheered when John Paul Collingwood levelled again with a well-taken point in the 14th minute.

With Conor Carey enjoying his best game of the season ,it hardly came as too much of a surprise, when the industrious half forward gave the winners the lead for the first time half a minute later, and quicker than it takes to relate, Jamie Nagle again from a free, brought about equality for the fourth time on the stroke of the quarter hour.

Decisive goals

Continuing to perform with renewed confidence, Dungarvan assumed their biggest lead since the start, when Gavin Crotty and Cormac Curran raised further white flags in the 16th and 18th minutes respectively – the last score standing out as one of the best of the game. Then Passage who had the support of a fairly refreshing first half breeze, suddenly commenced to click. A prodigious free out from their goalkeeper Ray Barry in the 21st minute, led to a further sanction against Dungarvan, and county senior star Eoin Kelly made his first indelible mark on the game, when he reduced the deficit to the minimum from the resultant free. The last mentioned came up with another point from a free in the 24th minute, to again level the match at six points a piece.

But the concluding stages of the half saw Passage take over in a major way – a magnificent Noel Connors clearance brought a third successive Eoin Kelly point and a lead never subsequently relinquished by the seasiders, and when shortly afterwards a Nicky Quinlan centre was billowed to the Dungarvan net by a well placed Eoin Kelly from close range, the writing was finally beginning to appear on the scene for the now very much under siege Westerners. And it got worse for the Blues, as the last mentioned successfully converted a further winners point in the 27th minute, and a minute and a half later, Eoin Connors added to Dungarvan woes, when he landed his second match point, and almost immediately followed up with a goal virtually from the puck out, when his long range ball went untouched to the back of the losers net, to leave the score board reading at the break – Passage 2-9 ; Dungarvan 0-6.

All not lost

While the change of ends saw Passage take up where they had left off with two additional points inside four minutes of the restart, per John Paul Collingwood and Aaron Connors to stretch their lead advantage to eleven, Dungarvan found themselves further in arrears, when Conor Carey who came truly thundering in the fray, added his third match point in the 38th minute. But a minute later, Dungarvan side were thrown a life line, when midfielder Jamie Nagle surged forward on the left to plant the ball in the back of the Passage net, and while Eoin Kelly from a free quickly eased winners concern with further point, it in no way deterred the Old Boro men from sticking rigidly to their task. For lengthy spells, they proceeded to dictate the trend of the game – Jamie Nagle from frees kept them in touch, and it was something of a relief for the Eastern champions when the hard working Nicky Quinlan popped their fourteenth match point in the 50th minute. Still Dungarvan continued to come forward in waves – the youthful Gavin Crotty, and Jamie Nagle from frees, came up three unanswered Dungarvan points between the 50th and 53rd minute, and there was a real let off for Passage in the 57th minute, when full forward Graham Nagle scorned a right good chance of a goal from close range for the Western visitors, and was disgusted to see his final touch go wide of the mark.

While Jamie Nagle made amends from a free two minutes later, it proved Dungarvan’s last score of the day, and it was Passage who finished in style with a brace of additional points from play in the closing couple of minutes – first Aaron Connors raising his second white flag of the day, and a minute later, Eoin Kelly bearing down on the Dungarvan goal in search of a third goal, saw his blistering shot deflected over the bar, leaving the Eastern men, worthy winners in the end.

Final score again – Passage 2-16; Dungarvan 1-13.


This was without question the Passage team’s best over all display of the season, and there was undeniable scenes of tremendous jubilation at the particularly when County Board Chairman Pat Flynn, himself a member of the winning club presented the County Cup to team captain Brian Carey afterwards.

The introduction of long serving Sean Cullinane as a second half substitute was another of the day’s highlights for the winners, and the former star county defender who is also a team coach, equally played his part in fashioning victory.

The winners paraded a close knit and tenacious defence in which Ian Power, Noel Connors, Shane Flood and Brian Carey excelled – both Nicky Quinlan and John Paul Collingwood worked their socks out in the middle of the field, while in addition to Eoin Kelly whose scoring rate proved so crucial to the over all result, such as Rory Walsh, Eoin Connors and Conor Carey proved outstanding in attack for the winners.

Even in defeat Dungarvan gave much promise for the future their relatively young side had an inspirational captain in Kieran Curran, with five star performances also coming from Jamie Nagle, Gavin Crotty and Cormac Curran, with John Paul Tutty,and Michael McLoughlin equally very much to the fore.


Passage: Eoin Kelly 1-6, Eoin Connors 1-2, Conor Carey 0-3, John Paul Collingwood and Aaron Connors 0-2 each, and Nicky Quinlan 0-1.

Dungarvan: Jamie Nagle 1-8, Gavin Crotty 0-3, Cormac Curran and Graham Nagle 0-1 each.


Passage: Ray Barry, Shane Flood, Brian Carey, Liam Carey, Ian Power, James Heffernan, Noel Connors, Nicholas Quinlan, John Paul Collingwood, Conor Carey, Rory Walsh, Eoin Connors, Aaron Connors, Ger Farrell, Eoin Kelly. Subs – Sean Cullinane for J. Heffernan, Paul Fitzgerald for G. Farrell.

Dungarvan: Paul Ahearne, Derek Barry, David Morrissey, Michael McLoughlin, Brian Bannon, John Paul Tutty, Ciaran Curran, Jamie Nagle, Derek Truman, Cormac Curran, Pat Sullivan, Gavin Crotty, Jonathon Regan, Graham Nagle, Liam Ryan. Subs – John Joe Roynane for P. Sullivan, Jason O’Mahoney for D. Truman.

Referee: Tommy O’Sullivan (Cappoquin).

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