Stradbally 0-15 Rathgormack 2-8
County champions Stradbally needed to call on all their experience to overcome the challenge of a very spirited Rathgormack side on Saturday evening last in Fraher Field.
With the hour up it was the Comeragh men that led and it looked as if they were on the brink of qualification to the last eight.
But in the four additional minutes beyond regulation time, Michael Walsh and Shane Ahearne landed points to steal a win for Stradbally, which all but secured their place in the quarter-finals.
Throughout the hour little if anything separated the two sides in a game that was possibly the best played in the Championship to date.
Tommy Connors got the scoring underway with just 18 seconds played when he landed a point for the champions.
But points from Ronan Crotty and Gavin Nugent with a Shane Ahearne effort sandwiched in between meant that the two sides were deadlocked on two points apiece at the end of the first quarter.
Over the next 10 minutes, both sides continued to trade points but still couldn’t be separated with five minutes of the half to go.
However with four minutes of the half remaining, the first major score of the game arrived.
Paudie Whelan saw his goal-bound shot saved on the line but in a goalmouth scramble Martin Whelan got the final touch to give Rathgormack a 1-4 to 0-4 lead.
Edmond Hogan quickly followed up with a Rathgormack point to give them a four-point advantage. And just before the break John Coffey kicked two points for Stradbally to leave his side trailing 1-5 to 0-6 at the break.