COOLERA/STRANDHILL made it three minor hurling titles in a row with a four-point win over Tourlestrane in Sunday's final in Tourlestrane.
Favourites going into the game, Coolera/Strandhill lived up to their billing by tearing Tourlestrane apart in the opening half. Some slick passing by Niall O'Rourke, Ciaran O'Connor and their team-mates in the forwards, coupled with some wonderful point shooting by Colm Parke, Brian Tobin and Darragh Burke saw Coolera/Strandhill lead 1-9 to 0-1 at the break. Coolera's goal came in the 26th minute of the half from the lively Parke.
Indeed Tourlestrane had goalkeeper Eoin McDonagh to thank that they were not further behind at the break, as moments after Parke's goal he was at hand to prevent a 20m free by Burke from finding the net. Tourlestrane's sole score in the opening half came from a Jonathan Durkin free.
The second half was an entirely different affair, Tourlestrane setting their stall early with two Jonathan Durkin points. Tourlestrane's comeback received a set-back in the tenth minute when Burke found the net following a long free from Murphy. Murphy himself added a point from a ' 65' minutes later to re-establish a 13point lead for his side. Murphy's point was to be the penultimate score for his side as Tourlestrane increasingly began to dominate proceedings, Ciaran Walsh, Jonathan Durkin and goalkeeper McDonagh in particular doing the most to inspire their colleagues. A Paddy Burke point was quickly followed by a goal from a 20m free by Sean Quinn. Inspired by Quinn's goal, and with John Paul Lang moving further up the field to assist Durkin and Barry Walsh around midfield, Tourlestrane were in the driving seat for the last quarter.
In the 20th minute their persistence was rewarded when Gavin Feeley goaled from close range. Further points from Niall Durkin and sub John Kelly began to eat into the Coolera lead. Knowing they desperately needed a goal in the closing minutes, Tourlestrane lobbed the sliotar into the Coolera goalmouth area, but each time they were repelled by Coolera captain Murphy. In the end, Tourlestrane's gallant second-half revival proved fruitless, Coolera/Strandhill hanging on to their title on a 2-11 to 2-7 scoreline.