Tuesday 16 October 2018

Kanturk conquer Kilmaley to land title after extra-time thriller

Munster Club IHC Final: Kanturk 1-23 Kilmaley (Clare) 0-25 (aet)

Action from the game
Action from the game
Kanturk celebrate a historic first time Munster Club IHC title. Picture John Tarrant

John Tarrant

There is just no stopping Kanturk, again emphasising their character to claim a dramatic victory over Kilmaley in a thrilling AIB Munster Club Intermediate Hurling Championship Final at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick last Sunday.

Taking extra-time to resolve, a compelling contest emerged over 80 minutes from two outstanding protagonists seeking out first time provincial silverware. Hotly competitive, tough challenges, quality scores and edge of the seat fare roused a vocal attendance.

Kanturk shaped up the better of the two sides for much of the hour yet the Duhallow side required a late point from corner back Ryan Walsh to take the contest into extra time. Again Kanturk enjoyed the bulk of the possession in the additional 20 minutes, again the outcome remained in doubt right up to the finish only for Kanturk to inch their way over the finishing line.

Fiercely contested, Clare champions Kilmaley were devastated to lose. As the game reached a crescendo, they held a great chance of taking the game to a replay only for a long range free by Cian Moloney agonisingly tail wide of the upright.

No shortage of incident before or after the throw up, Kanturk dealt a blow in the warm up, key man Lorcán McLoughlin injured his shoulder in the warm-up and didn't start. Following medical attention, the inter county player entered the fray after six minutes, his shoulder tested in fiery exchanges that at times required match official Thomas Walsh to calm matters.

The perfect start for Kanturk, defender Alan Sheehy obliging with a point. With no quarter asked or given in a hotly competitive opening, Kilmaley threatened on a great move, Moloney setting up Seán O'Loughlin only for Kanturk 'keeper Anthony Nash to deal smartly.

McLoughlin entered the fray, Kanturk on top, Ryan Walsh pointing for a 0-3 to 0-1 advantage.

Kilmaley threw down the gauntlet, Moloney, Eamon Bracken and Kenneth Kennedy edged the Clare champions ahead. However, Kanturk stepped up the tempo, throughout the field, every line taking responsibility.

Much of Kanturk's growing dominance was down to a competent defence, Paul Walsh, John McLoughlin and Lorcan O'Neill outstanding in addition to the supremacy of Darren Browne at the centre back.

Driving forward, Ian Walsh and Liam O'Keeffe pointed sweetly, five consecutive points confirmed Kanturk's upperhand. And they might well had put clear daylight between the sides in the 23rd min., Alan O'Keeffe collected from Aidan Walsh and his inviting centre across the face of the Kilmaley goalmouth saw Liam O'Keeffe bat the ball into the side netting.

That miss served to lift Kilmaley, big full forward Daire Keane blasted over the crossbar, their short passing game a delight and a Moloney point further ate into the deficit. At the opposite end a pair of pointed frees from Liam O'Keeffe helped secure a 0-10 to 0-7 interval advantage.

A sticky surface failed to hinder the standard of play upon the restart, superb play at either end saw Kanturk points from Lorcán McLoughlin and Aidan Walsh matched by O'Loughlin and Michael O'Neill for Kilmaley.

Walsh set up Browne for a peach of a point before an all important phase saw matters swing towards the Cork champions. Kilmaley's Michael O'Malley had a point disallowed and from the subsequent play, Kanturk won a sideline, Ian Walsh collected and found the isolated Liam O'Keeffe to gallop away and blast to the roof of the net in the 41st min.

Trailing 1-13 to 0-10, Kilmaley retaliated in a marvellous response, spearheaded by the encouraging play of Conor Cleary, O'Malley, Seán Kennedy and Keane. A decent flourish saw Bracken, Brian Cahill and Moloney point.

Though substitute James Fitzpatrick answered for Kanturk, their opponents continued to create inroads thanks to an enterprising short-passing game that yielded three further points from play by Keane and a converted 65 by O'Malley tied up the contest.

With the excitement reaching fever pitch, Kilmaley looked to had timed their run to perfection from a Kennedy point. However, Kanturk weren't to be denied, defender Paul Walsh soloed up field to bisect the uprights to square up the contest 1-17 to 0-20.

Into extra time, Kanturk dominated the opening spell and though Kilmaley answered a pair of points from Liam O'Keeffe and Ian Walsh, Kanturk regained the lead courtesy of O'Keeffe and Ryan Walsh to forge a 1-21 to 0-22 grip.

With both teams tiring in an energy sapping confrontation, Kanturk looked well positioned, O'Keeffe pointed after Ryan attempt for a goal was blocked. Continuing to press, Kanturk added to their tally, a great move saw Aidan Walsh and O'Keeffe combine for McLoughlin post a sweet point.

Far from finished Kilmaley refused to surrender, Moloney pointed back to back frees that left just one between the pair. Throwing everything forward, Kilmaley search for a reprieve came up just short, Moloney's effort failed to reach the target to ensure the Hoare Cup was bound for Duhallow heartland.

KANTURK: A Nash; P Walsh 0-1, J McLoughlin, A Sheehy 0-1; J Browne, D Browne 0-1, L O'Neill; J Fitzpatrick 0-1, R Walsh 0-2; I Walsh 0-3, M Healy 0-1, A Walsh 0-1; D Kenneally, A O'Keeffe, L O'Keeffe 1-7 (0-4f, 0-1 '65'). Subs: L McLoughlin 0-4 for J Fitzpatrick (6), Fitzpatrick for D Kenneally (half-time), M O'Riordan for M Healy (52), D Kenneally for A O'Keeffe (65), M Healy for I Walsh (77).

KILMALEY: B O'Loughlin; A McGuane, C McGuane, E Enright; C Neylon, C Cleary, S Kennedy; B Cahill 0-1, M O'Malley 0-5 (1f, 1 '65'); K Kennedy 0-2, E Bracken 0-2, C Moloney 0-7 (5f); S O'Loughlin 0-1, D Keane 0-5, M O'Neill 0-2. Subs: P McNamara for S O'Loughlin (44), A Markham for C Moloney (50), C McMahon for B Cahill (60), J Clohessy for E Bracken (60), C Moloney for A Markham (63), S O'Loughlin for S Kennedy (65), E Bracken for C Neylon (78).

Referee: Thomas Walsh (Waterford)

The game in 60 seconds

Main man

Darren Browne emerged a colossus at centre back for Kanturk, not for the first time in the campaign, the 2017 Co. u21 player stamped his class on the game with a glut of interventions, making intelligent use of the ball and swept forward to put his name on the scoresheet.

Key moment

Kanturk looked good for the provincial prize on jumping six points ahead during the third quarter only to endure a sticky situation, their advantage erased and trail by a point only for corner back Paul Walsh embark on a productive solo to force parity. That score allowed Kanturk recharge the batteries for extra time.

Top score

Some marvellous long range points by the teams in both halves yet the game's lone goal struck a chord. Ian Walsh fed the sliothar into Liam O'Keeffe who had missed a great chance earlier but on this occasion, he raced away from defenders to hit the net with a sublime finish.

Entertainment value

Fittingly this encounter lived up to its billing, the sheer endeavour of both sides had to be admired, that relentless intensity and the sheer determination of two committed teams paved the way for a cracker in one of the best tussles all season that took 80 minutes to decide.

Next up

Winter training and some logistics to work out for Kanturk, progressing onto an All Ireland quarter final date with 2015 runners up Kilburn Gaels on a London trip to Ruislip on Saturday week.