Late Trim double stuns champions
If the finish to this evening's SHC semi-final at Pairc Tailteann was the end of a movie it would be slammed for being over-the-top and completely unbelievable, but it really happened and what a thriller it was as Trim pulled off the heist of the century to claim a 3-9 to 0-17 victory over Kildalkey and a place in the SHC final.
Three minutes into injury-time Trim trailed by 1-9 to 0-17 and it was a deficit they deserved and were actually firtunate to be still in the game such was Kildalkey's superiority but they never gave up hope and once hope was still there they felt they had a chance.
Then Dylan Farrell's long hopeful ball deceived all and sundry in the goalmouth and fell untouched to the net to close the gap to two points, at that stage it still looked like a consolation score.
Three minutes later Mark Molloy dropped a free from midfield into the Kildalkey square. An almighty scramble ensued and when the dust settled the net was rippling and Neil Heffernan emerged from the carnage, broken stick in one hand and the other fist clenched in his trademark celebration - Trim had won.
Kildalkey were by far the better team, but Trim had, somehow, won.
Kildalkey started well and looked in control early on when two frees from the excellent Paddy Conneely gave them a 0-2 to 0-0 lead after eight minutes, but they couldn't shrug off Trim as a brilliant run from Heffernan ended with the Trim man kicking to the net to open his sides account in the 11th minute and moments later Alan Douglas converted a 64-metre free to stretch Trim's unlikely lead to 1-1 to 0-2.
Kildalkey's response was impressive with Conneely from play and David Harmon from a monster free from just outside his own 45-mtre line restored parity by the 15th minute, but again Trim responded with James Andrews pointing.
After the water break McCormack produced a stunning save to deny Heffernan his second goal and James Murray missed the resultant '65'.
Conneely showed the Trim young gun how it was done from a '65' two minutes later to edge Kildalkey ahead, but points from Murray (free) and Farrell, either side of a score from Conneely on the counter-attack, kept Trim's noses in front, 1-4 to 0-6 in the 26th minute.
Murray had a 'point' disallowed by referee Mark Reilly after consultation with the umpires and in the closing stages of the half Kildalkey made a burst for the winning line with points from Niall McNally, Nicky Potterton and Conneely ensuring a 0-9 to 1-4 interval lead.
That two-point lead became four within two minutes of the restart as Kelly with an outlandish point and Nicky Potterton made it 0-11 to 1-4.
Trim were struggling. Murray missed a straight-forward free and McCormack brilliantly denied Mikey Cole as Nicky Potterton added his second in succession to put five points between the sides.
Even by the 38th minute Brian Dowling's converted free look like a consolation score for Trim and when Molloy nmade it 1-6 to 0-12 a minute later it was still hard to see a way back for Neil Cole's side.
Conneely with a free from 65 metres and a beauty from play sandwiched a super score from Luke Rickard as Kildalkey extended their lead to 0-15 to 1-6 and even though Dowling pulled one back before the second water break Trim still looked dead and buried.
After the resumption play became scrappy with a mini-melee resulting in yellow cards for Ryan Andrews and Kelly, resulting in Kelly's dismissal as he had already been cautioned late in the opening half. Despite their numerical disadvantage Kildalkey still looked in control.
Kearney and Paddy Potterton lofted over to make it 0-17 to 1-7.
Trim were out on their feet, but they never gave up as Douglas's free got them back to within two scores and the rest, as they say, is history.
Trim - Neil Heffernan 2-0; Dylan Farrell 1-1; Brian Dowling 0-2 one free; Alan Douglas 0-2 frees; James Andrews 0-1; James Murray 0-1 free; Mark Molloy 0-1; Ciaran Joyce 0-1.
Kildalkey - Paddy Conneely 0-8 three frees, one '65'; Nicky Potterton 0-3; David Harmon 0-1 free; Niall McNally 0-1; Brin Kelly 0-1; Luke Rickard 0-1; Conor Kearney 0-1; Paddy Potterton 0-1.
Trim – Charlie Ennis; Ben Holden, Ryan Andrews, Luke Moran; Ian Birmingham, Dimmy Higgins, Sean McGee; Dylan Farrell, Mark Molloy; Alan Douglas, James Murray, James Andrews; Brian Dowling, Mikey Cole, Neil Heffernan. Subs - Mikey Cullen for Moran 36 mins, Ciaran Joyce for Murray 47m, Damo McGee for Cole 49m, Ciaran O'Rourke for Dowling 50m, David Murtagh for R Andrews 55m.
Kildalkey – Mark McCormack; David Conneely, Gary Kelly, Mairtin Doran; Brendan McKeon, David Harmon, Brin Kelly; Kevin McKeon, Paddy Potterton; Padraig Geoghegan, Luke Rickard, Sean Heavey; Nicky Potterton, Paddy Conneely, Niall McNally. Subs - Luke Conneely for McNally, Conor Kearney for Rickard both 48 mins, Martin Healy for Heavey 54m, Conor Fitzgerald for Geoghegan 60m.
Referee – Mark Reilly (Kilmessan).