Whelahan turns back the clock with vintage display as Birr power to their eleventh senior hurling championship title in 17 years
Brian Whelahan turned the clock back with a vintage display as Birr captured their eleventh Offaly Senior Hurling Championship title in 17 years with an ultimately comfortable five point win over Kilcormac/Killoughey in O'Connor Park yesterday afternoon.
Playing at centre half forward, Whelahan collected his eleventh medal in a man-of-the-match display with a super ten point haul (three from play) to deny Kilcormac/Killoughey who were seeking their first title.
Involved in most of the good things that Birr did and sweeping up a huge amount of ball, Whelahan now has his sights set on the record of thirteen medals held by St Rynagh's and Offaly goalkeeping legend, Damien Martin.
Yet Birr did not have things all their own way against a battling Kilcormac/Killoughey outfit who gave them plenty of food for thought in the first half.
With Eamon Lee and Conor Mahon winning the midfield battle and Colm Cassidy in super form on a dominant half back line, Kilcormac/Killoughey mopped up the lion's share of possession and should have been further ahead at the break than 0-6 to 0-4.
Indeed the losers should have been further ahead at the break but they hit seven poor wides, compared to just three for Birr who stayed in touch through Brian Whelahan.
In a generally mediocre final with little to raise the temperature of the 7,500 crowd, it developed along expected lines in the second half with Birr becoming increasingly dominant and Brian Whelahan pulling the trigger at every opportunity.
Earlier on Birr's sideline had displayed a ruthless streak when it became clear that K/K were not there to make up the numbers as they whipped off Paul Molloy and Neil Rogers after just 23 minutes.
Sentiment definitely did not play a role with their legendary manager Pat Joe Whelahan as his son Simon was also replaced at half time. As the game wore on, K/K became increasingly ragged and the Sean Robbins Cup was destined for Birr well before the final whistle.
SCORERS -- Birr: Brian Whelahan 0-10 (7f), G Hanniffy 0-2, S Brown, P O'Meara and K Hehir 0-1 each. Kilcormac/Killoughey: C Slevin 0-3 (2f), D Gleeson and C Cassidy (2f) 0-2 each, K Rigney, E Lee and J Gorman 0-1 each.
BIRR -- B Mullins; JP O'Meara, N Claffey, M Verney; R Hanniffy, P Cleary, D Hayden; Barry Whelahan, N Rogers; G Hanniffy, Brian Whelahan, S Brown; P Molloy, M Dwane, S Whelahan. Subs: P O'Meara for Molloy, B Watkins for Rogers (Both 23m), K Hehir for S Whelahan (H/T), S Ryan for Dwane (40m), D Molloy for Brown (62m).
KILCORMAC/KILLOUGHEY -- D Kilmartin; J Grogan, G Healion, B Leonard; K Rigney, K Grogan, C Cassidy; E Lee, C Mahon; J Gorman, P Healion, M Murray; C Slevin, D Gleeson, M Leonard. Subs: D Currams for Murray (H/T), P Leonard for Healion (54m).
REF -- T Carroll (Kinnitty).