The early rain had abated by the throw-in on the slopes of the glacial till that is home to Faughs Minor teams in Tymon Park. The sun was to become a factor now as it threatened to dazzle and blind each team in turn that had to face into it. The Ballinteer defenders were the first who had to cope with this challenge but they had the benefit of a light breeze at their backs in mitigation.
If our lads had any apprehension of playing a class Faughs team boasting Dublin Minor players in their panel then they didn’t show it for a moment. The last time these sides met Faughs had lived up to their rosc catha, carving a route through defenders the way a scythe might mow a meadow. That occasion was still fresh in the memory and our lads were determined not to lie down in the face of an anticipated robust physical encounter. The referee kept a close eye on this dimension of the game and cautioned Enda, whose ear still bears the scars from the previous encounter, while the game was still young. We were to learn that the ref had left his cards in the car when he asked the question of the Faughs number 8, “can you give me any good reason why I shouldn’t send you off ?”, and then signalled a yellow card verbally. Both sets of supporters on the sideline wondered what the “good reason” might have been. The introductions over, the match settled down and we witnessed a great game of Hurling.
Ballinteer enjoyed the better first half and were leading by 6 points at the turn. It was apparent that Faughs had been given clear guidance on how to approach the second half when matters resumed. They executed great teamwork with accuracy to set up goal chances with men positioned on the edge of the large parallelogram to receive deadly passes from balls placed wide into the corners. It is to the huge credit of the Ballinteer defenders that they coped so well with the onslaught which threatened to overwhelm on occasions. It was only a matter of time before the dam broke and the goals started to go in. Faughs soon had the lead. With a freshening wind at their backs it looked like they might press home their advantage.
But these Ballinteer lads are made of stern stuff and they dug into reservoirs of courage and determination to find the energy to raise their game again.
The addition of Pádraic Ó hEithir and Brian Mannion, who joined Robert in making piercing runs through the heart of the Faughs defence, was inspired in its timing. Brian accelerated down the left wing to the endline before executing a deft handpass across the goal to Mick, unmarked on the edge of the small rectangle. Mick was well tackled as he manoeuvred to take the shot from his hand and the danger was cleared by Faughs, but it was apparent that this match was far from over and our lads took great heart from the incursion to the very goal line of the opposition. Moments later Robert sliced through the middle and struck a terrific shot, placed perfectly just inside the keeper’s left post. The Faughs goalkeeper just managed to keep it out but Mick was strong enough to overcome the defenders and strike the sliotar on the ground into the goal where Rob was joyfully on hand to assist, if it should be needed.
There was a sense that something could be rescued from this match and Seán Lane’s instructions were to drop the sliotar in front of the goal to see what might come of it. With Ballinteer just one point behind we got our answer. A penalty was awarded with time nearly up on the clock. Fitting that it should fall to Robert Aherne, outstanding in a team of outstanding performances, to step up, show his maturity and tap it over the bar to level the match at the death.
The match finished Faughs 5-6 2-15 Ballinteer St Johns