In an amazing high scoring encounter, Eslin had six points to spare over Fenagh St. Callin’s to claim a Intermediate championship semi-final place.
Conor Beirne gave Eslin an early lead when he tapped over a free and then blazed a goal chance over the Fenagh crossbar within two-and-a-half minutes of the throw-in last Saturday in Drumshanbo.
At the other end, Eslin had a let off when Fenagh’s Donal Wrynn drove a fourth minute goal chance wide and they had another close shave when Fenagh’s Fergal Ellis hit the butt of the upright with a goal bound pile driver.
Eslin took a three point lead after Beirne hit the target from a sixth minute free conversion. But the gap was down to the minimum within two minutes after Donal Wrynn scored a brace of Fenagh points from two frees on the trot.
However Eslin pulled further ahead by the 12th minute with Conor Beirne again tapping over a pair of frees. The see saw nature of the contest continued as Fenagh came back to level matters and then grab a one point lead.
Brendan Flynn shot over from play and also whipped over a 45 metre’s free from near the sideline while Donal Wrynn found the target from a ‘45’ and another free to give his side the lead for the first and only time in the showdown.
Fenagh could have taken control in the 23rd minute when a Fergal Ellis goal chance was denied by save that saw the ball come back to Martin Doonan who also had his shot blocked and cleared to safety by the Eslin defenders.
Brian Higgins became the second Eslin player to score when he shot over in the 24th minute and Eslin went back in front when Shane Beirne caught the Fenagh defence knapping and fired an unstoppable shot past net minder Killian McLoughlin.
Shortly after, Shane Higgins stretched Eslin’s lead with a point from play.
Fenagh suffered a severe blow in the 27th minute when fullback Pauric Flynn was dismissed for a second yellow card offence and before the interval Conor Beirne and Martin Doonan swapped point to leave Eslin 1-8 to 0-7 in front at the break.
That gap was closed to three points within two minutes when Brendan Flynn shot over from play but Fenagh followed up with four bad wides while they were also denied a goal chance after 11 minutes.
Conor Beirne put some more daylight between the sides when he slotted over a free a minute later.
Fenagh then launched a surge that lasted until the 48th minute and brought them on level terms with Eslin for a second time. Four unanswered points were put over by the Fenagh men when Wrynn hit the target from a free and a ‘45’ while Paul & Fergal Ellis levelled matters from play.
Yet another Fenagh goal chance went a-begging when Eslin keeper Emmet Higgins made a fine save to deny Fenagh the psychological advantage of taking the lead at a crucial stage of the battle.
Beirne put Eslin back in front and into a lead they never subsequently surrendered with his side’s first score in eight minutes when he found the range from a 50th minute free and over the next two minutes, he consolidated Eslin position.
The former county man fired home his team’s second goal and pointed to put his side five points up with eight minutes left.
Brendan Flynn and Donal Wrynn replied with Fenagh frees to cut Eslin’s advantage back to three points beforeBeirne from a long range effort and Fenagh Michael Doonan from a close in swapped points to keep the pressure on.
Just into injury time Beirne brought his scoring tally for the game to a whopping 2 – 10 when he shot a somewhat unique goal that made Eslin’s place in the intermediate championship semi-final absolutely secure.
In this highly skilful solo performance, the talented Eslin man latched onto a ball on the ground that came over the top at midfield.
He then dribbled soccer style the length of the Fenagh half from which their chasing defenders had recenly departed before slotting his effort from close range low into the right corner of Killian McLoughlin’s met.