Sport Hurling

Friday 24 February 2017

Forde seals dramatic extra-time 'Bridge victory

Clarinbridge 0-18 Loughrea 0-15 Galway (After extra-time)
SHC Final replay

Clarinbridge are victorious. Photo: Sportsfile
Clarinbridge are victorious. Photo: Sportsfile

This competition -- which has produced nine All-Ireland club champions in the past 19 years -- rarely disappoints and this gripping clash at Kenny Park in Athenry lived up to its billing.

Loughrea looked set to claim their third crown when they pulled three points clear in the closing stages of a game that increased in tempo as it progressed.

But Clarinbridge staged a storming finish to force the final into extra-time for only the second time in its history.

And Clarinbridge, showing superior fitness, had the legs to push on from there and claim the crown in a gripping decider. A crowd of close on 10,000 saw Loughrea destined for their third-ever title when they led by three points with little over two minutes remaining.

However, Clarinbridge, who won their only title in 2001 when current manager Micheal Donoghue was captain, did not panic and hit three points without reply from Paul Coen to force the final into extra-time.

Coen took over the free-taking duties after Mark Kerins, who landed six from placed balls and a brace from play, missed a few but Coen made no mistake to give the south Galway side a lifeline.

Eanna Murphy put Clarinbridge ahead for the first time two minutes into extra-time and with Alan Kerins and Barry Daly coming more into the game for Clarinbridge, Loughrea began to struggle.

Neil Keary, a minor who scored 0-9 from placed balls, kept Loughrea in touch and the sides turned round for the final period of extra-time with Clarinbridge leading by 0-16 to 0-15.

Mark Kerins hit the point of the match directly after the start of the second period in extra-time as he lifted the ball on his hurl, turned and in one movement without catching it drove the ball over the bar from 70 metres.

Eoin Forde then put a goal between them shortly afterwards and there was no way back for a Loughrea side who had sent three-in-a-row champions Portumna packing in the semi-finals.

Loughrea, who have now lost four finals since 2003 and who won only their second title in 2006, never trailed during normal time and led by four points at one stage in the opening half and by three going into the closing stages of the game.

But Clarinbridge responded superbly with David Forde and Jamie Cannon superb in their half-back line and they took over, outscoring Loughrea by 0-5 to 0-2 to claim the title.

Scorers -- Clarinbridge: M Kerins 0-8 (0-6f), P Coen 0-4 (0-3f, 0-1 '65); B Daly 0-2, E Murphy, E Forde, A Kerins, S Forde 0-1 each. Loughrea: N Keary 0-9 (0-8f, 0-1 '65), J Maher 0-3, J O'Loughlin, K Colleran, J Coen 0-1.

Clarinbridge -- L Donoghue; C Forde, B Burke, P Callanan; J Cannon, D Forde, M Donoghue; B Daly, E Murphy; S Burke, M Kerins, S Forde; E Forde, A Kerins, P Coen. Subs: E Collins for M Donoghue (62), A Armstrong for Murphy (68).

Loughrea -- N Murray; B Mahony, D McClearn, T Regan; P Hoban, N Shaughnessy, V Maher; E Mahony, G Keary; J Coen, J Maher, K Colleran; N Keary, J O'Loughlin, T Hoban. Subs: J Regan for T Hoban (56), G Kennedy for Colleran (59), Colleran for Maher (60), S Mahony for E Mahony (75).

Ref -- E Shaughnessy.

Irish Independent

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