Watson's extra class guides Loughgiel
LOUGHGIEL SHAMROCKS 0-27 NA PIARSAIGH 2-13 (after extra time)
Loughgiel Shamrocks are the only Ulster club to have won the All-Ireland club SHC crown and they are back in the final for the first time since their 1983 triumph after a thrilling battle at Parnell Park on Saturday.
The Antrim side have a habit of doing things the hard way. They lost six county finals in a row and then a semi-final before reclaiming the crown for the first time in 21 years in 2010 and then retaining it in 2011.
When they were stung for 1-1 in regulation injury-time to level things up, it could have been a killer blow.
But the difference was Liam Watson. The sharp shooter bagged 0-16 in a brilliant display.
"We've had a tough six or seven years but we're all getting our rewards now," said an elated Watson. "Na Piarsaigh are a good team, but the gym work we did over Christmas was unreal. We were in the gym at 10.0 in the morning when everyone else was getting ready for their turkey."
From 'keeper DD Quinn up to Watson, Loughgiel had stars everywhere and their intensity caused no end of trouble for Na Piarsaigh.
Na Piarsaigh were excellent in the second half. Just when it seemed they had run out of time, sub Rob Sheehan scrambled in a goal and Kevin Downes scored an unlikely equaliser to make it 2-12 to 0-18.
But Loughgiel were not to be denied and in the 20 extra minutes they outscored Na Piarsaigh nine points to one, Watson scoring six.
The Limerick men lost their captain Kieran Bermingham to a red card in the closing stages for a rough challenge on Joey Scullion -- but the verdict was secured by then.
SCORERS -- Loughgiel: L Watson 0-16 (9f, 1 '65'), J Scullion, E McCloskey 0-3 each, B McCarry, D Laverty 0-2 each, M McFadden 0-1. Na Piarsaigh: S Dowling 0-6 (4f, 2 '65s'), D Breen 1-2, R Sheehan 1-0, C King, P Gleeson, S O'Neill, K Downes, A Breen 0-1 each.
LOUGHGIEL -- D Quinn; P Gillan, N McGarry, R McCloskey; J Campbell, M Scullion, J Campbell; B Macauley, M McFadden; J Scullion, D Laverty, E McCloskey; B McCarry, L Watson, S Casey. Subs: D McCloskey for Laverty (47), Laverty for McFadden (59), T McCloskey for Gillan (60), Damien Laverty for Casey (e-t), S Dobbin for Macauley (e-t)
NA PIARSAIGH -- P Kennedy; D Lynch, K Breen, K Bermingham; B Hartnett, J O'Brien, A Dempsey; C King, D Breen; S Dowling, P Gleeson, S O'Neill; K Kennedy, K Downes, K Ryan. Subs: A Breen for K Breen (30), R Sheehan for S O'Neill (61), J Madden for King (61), S O'Neill for Sheehan (e-t), King for Gleeson (e-t).
Ref -- A Stapelton (Laois).