Flannery finds range to help Pearses claim just rewards
PADRAIG PEARSES 1-14
CONNACHT CLUB IHC FINAL
Thomas Flannery's unerring free-taking proved crucial in landing a fifth Connacht title at this level for Galway champions Padraig Pearses in Athleague.
In a rousing contest, outsiders Ballyhaunis were well in touch with 10 minutes remaining with the sides deadlocked at 1-9 apiece.
Just two points stood between the sides with four minutes of normal time remaining but in two minutes of injury-time, scores from Jimmy Gelston and a final effort from Flannery -- his only one from play in his 10-point tally -- sealed it for Padraig Pearses.
If Flannery was the hit-man for Padraig Pearses, not far behind on seven frees for Ballyhaunis was Keith Higgins -- and it was the latter who fired in an early ball which fell to Stephen Hoban to fire the Mayo men a goal in front after just three minutes.
But the books were balanced when Padraig Pearses -- who looked far more threatening than Ballyhaunis when they came forward -- were awarded a penalty and Cyril Donnellan fired home after he had been fouled in the square to leave the Galway side two ahead after just eight minutes.
However, by the interval, it was the Mayo champions who had taken a one-point lead, 1-4 to 1-3 after Higgins landed a 70-yarder, but Hoban levelled it before another long-range effort from Higgins on 30 minutes fired his side into the lead.
Ballyhaunis went two ahead after eight minutes of the second half, but in a shoot-out between Higgins and Flannery, it was the Galway ace who came up with all the trumps.
ScoreRs -- Padraig Pearses: T Flannery 0-10 (0-8f, 0-1 '65'), C Donnellan 1-2 (1-0pen), J Gelston 0-2. Ballyhaunis: K Higgins 0-7 (0-7f), S Hoban 1-2, D McConn 0-1.
PaDraig Pearses -- F Flannery; A Kenny, T Kenny, P Raftery; K Hardiman, T Higgins, T MacDonagh; S Hardiman, K Donnellan; B Donnellan, C Donnellan, A Kilkenny; T Flannery, E Ward, J Gelston. Subs: R Lally for E Ward, A Bellew for K Donnellan, K Hillary for B Donnellan.
Ballyhaunis -- M Walsh; D Keadin, P Healy, A Brennan; H McKermitt, D McConn, P McConn; P Higgins, P Lynch; L McDermott, K Higgins, T Buckley; N Murphy, S Hoban, D O'Brien. Subs: A Lyons for P Lynch, C McCrudden for D O'Brien, B Hunt for L McDermott.
Ref -- D O'Driscoll (Limerick).