Just seven minutes after coming on as a sub, Kieran Hickey made it an unforgettable four days as Galbally’s footballers followed Garryspillane’s premier hurlers for an unprecedented intermediate county championship double in the Gaelic Grounds on Tuesday evening.
Joining colleagues James Ryan and Mark Quinlan in winning both medals on the field of play, his late point completed a remarkable comeback after the ‘Men from the Glen’ had trailed for most of the hour against a Rathkeale side attempting to make it back to senior ranks at the first attempt.
Forced to line out without their injured playmaker and inspiration Paul White, the Deelsiders looked to have the game under control at the break despite being suckered early on for the game’s only goal.
However, the shape and composure that had carried them to a three point lead wilted when their opponents brought on more beef to their already significant physical advantage.
Rathkeale’s first two efforts went wide after Jamie Morrissey put Galbally ahead inside a minute but they fared better once they ran at the defence and drew three fouls for Cian Shorten to punish.
They didn’t seem under any pressure as they closed off the Glensmens’ attempts to break until a quick free out by the sideline found Mike Donovan sneaking in behind the defence to collect, turn and blast past Johnny Mooney.
Undaunted, the Deelsiders picked it up again and patient passing found Eoin O’Donnell with the space to equalise from 30 metres. Given another opening from almost the same position, he put them in front and was followed Andrew White.
Galbally tried to reply but were harried into the hasty shot and, just before the break, were punished by Shorten’s 50 metre free which stretched the lead to 0-7 to 1-1.
Needing a response, the South Limerick side moved up a gear to force a long free for Ryan to punish and a short one for sub Jack Donovan.
However, despite getting the best out of their physique to dominate possession, they struggled to score from play until James Ryan equalised and Hickey shot them in front with seven minutes to go.
Rathkeale tried to strike back but the opportunities weren’t opening up against the breeze until Eoghan O’Connor was fouled on the run a minute into injury time.
However, Shorten’s luck had run out, the free faded wide and Galbally squeezed over the line to return to the top grade after an absence of four years.
SCORERS, GALBALLY: John Kerins 1-0, Ger Ryan 0-2 (1 free, 1 ‘45’), Jamie Morrissey, Jack Donovan (free), James Ryan, Kieran Hickey 0-1 each;
RATHKEALE: Cian Shorten 0-5 (5 frees), Eoin O’Donnell 0-2, Andrew White 0-1.
GALBALLY: Ger Ryan; Tom Davern, Tony Henebry, Frank Cussen; Mark Quinlan, Liam Casey, Eoin Halligan; James Ryan, David Cussen; Jamie Morrissey, James Cummins, John Kearns; Gary McCarthy, Michael Donovan, Ger Quinlan.SUBS: Jack Donovan for Jamie Morrissey (injured, 34 minutes), Kieran Hickey for John Kerins (46 minutes).
RATHKEALE: Johnny Mooney; Jack Hennessy, Pádraig Power, Shane Hourigan; Patrick Sheahan, Adam Shanagher, Barry Coleman; Darragh O’Grady, Kevin Shanahan; Patrick Wilmot, Eoin O’Donnell, Mikey Morrissey; Andrew White, Cian Shorten, Eoin Kelly. SUBS: Eoghan O’Connor for Andrew White (40 minutes), Josh O’Connor for Kevin Shanahan (44 minutes), Kevin Shanahan for Eoin Kelly (58 minutes
REFEREE: Jason Mullins (Saint Kieran’s).