James Toher clears the danger for Trim during Saturday’s Leinster Club IHC quarter-final against Danesfort at Nowlan Park. Photo: John Quirke / www.quirke.ie

Analysis: Trim defied the odds to secure landmark success

There was an air of disbelief around Nowlan Park shortly before 3pm on Saturday afternoon.

The Kilkenny intermediate champions Danesfort trailed Meath minnows Trim by a point as the clock hit the hour mark.

Even the most optimistic supporter of the Meath senior champions still darn’t not believe.

The fear of a Kilkenny kick was still there, but when Alan Douglas lofted over in the 62nd minute that daring became doing.

Des Dunne did close the gap to the minimum, but time eventually ran out and Trim held on for one of the most remarkable victorious in the history of Meath hurling - club and county.

Kilmessan claimed a famous scalp when they won the Leinster IHC crown with victory over Erin’s Own in 2008, but they were a fancied team then, no one gave this Trim side a chance - and why would they?

Danesfort included seven times All-Ireland winner and four-time All-star Richie Hogan at centre-forward and four-time All-Ireland winner and four-time All-star Paul Murphy at centre-back, the expectation was that they would be simply too good.

However, this Trim team didn't read the script and inspired by one of the most assured, composed and outstanding performances of James Toher's life the Meath champions defied the odds.

Trim's intensity was too much for Danesfort to bear. The defensive fortitude of Toher, the magnificent Gerry Dwane, the swashbuckling Conor Quigley, the tigerish Ciaran O'Rourke and Ben Holden and the tenacious Dimmy Higgins were too much for Danesfort to handle.

Sure Hogan was a handful, but he was nothing Toher and Quigley couldn't handle. The Kilkenny legend scored six points, but only two from play, while no other player managed to score more than twice - a remarkable testament to Trim's rearguard action.

While all six defenders excelled and goalkeeper Charlie Ennis also played his part with a magnificent save in the 39th minute to deny Robbie Walsh, Trim's victory was founded on the collective.

The hard yards put in by Dylan Farrell, Joey Cole and Pa Ryan, the slog, intensity and power supplied by James Andrews, the alluring accuracy and wizardry of James Murray, the trickery and pace of Mikey Cole and Brian Dowling, the experience and determination of Alan Douglas, the impact of Neil Heffernan and Ian Bermingham - heroes one and all.

Trim have been blessed with a great history in hurling and manager Jimmy Canty believes that Saturday's win is right up there with one of the great days for the club.

"Back years ago when we won championships we went down to play Carlow or Wicklow teams, but to come to Nowlan Park to play a Kilkenny team that includes Richie Hogan and Paul Murphy, and lads that have won u-21s with Kilkenny, this is outstanding to come down here and get a result," beamed Canty.

"We finished our championship five weeks. We gave ourselves a week off and then slowly came back into it, but from the time we won the county final our aim was to give this a rattle.

"Kilmessan have won the Leinster, Kiltale went close a couple of times, Westmeath teams have won it, Naas won it last year. With it being the intermediate championship we thought we had a chance, we weren't coming here to play Ballyhale Shamrocks.

"We have good hurlers in the team, we have a good bench, so we were always aiming to put ourselves in with a serious chance.

"We obviously outlined where players like Richie Hogan and Paul Murphy would be, but we stuck to our own game plan to make sure they weren't given any space. Richie likes to drift into positions where he can pick up the ball loose and he is very effective. We looked to ensure he was never left free and then we played our own game."

With this memorable victory in the bag Canty quickly turned his attentions to facing Tullamore in the semi-finals next Saturday week.

The manager admits that his side are in bonus terriitory, but he believes that the spirit of his players and the experience they gave gained playing massive matches in both football and hurling will stand to them

"We are in bonus territory after winning the Meath. Danesfort were favourites here and probably favourites to win the All-Ireland, so to come down here and beat them in their own backyard is special," said Canty.

"As a day for Trim and Meath hurling, it defintely has to be the biggest day we have had as a group anyway.

"The aim is to kick on now. Obviously we didn't look beyond this match first, but now we have got over Danesfort in Nowlan Park anything is possible.

"Tullamore will be another big team, they are used to playing senior in Offaly, but if we apply ourselves right and train hard then anything is possible.

"The lads are outstanding. All year they have had football one week, then hurling the next, week in week out for a big bunch of them. That has probably helped us here today.

"None of them were intimidated coming into Nowlan Park because most of them played in Croke Park last February, so nothing overawes these lads.

"We knew we would have more fitness and physicality than them. They are used to quick stick work, but they wouldn't be used to the intensity, strength and physicality all our backs have. We knew our strengths, so we played to them," concluded a delighted Canty.