Final woe for Four Roads
ATHENRY 2-16; FOUR ROADS 1-7 IT was only in the last quarter that Athenry's expected easy win over Roscommon representatives Four Roads materialised in yesterday's Connacht Club SHC final in Athleague.
Indeed, a 12 point winning margin was somewhat flattering and was brought about when the Galway champions fired an unanswered 1-5 in the closing minutes as their opponents began to tire.
Four Roads needed a good start but such hopes soon evaporated when the game's main talking point occurred after 13 minutes. Athenry's Cathal Moran's probing ball was misjudged by Paraic Mannion.
This left David Donoghue a clear run at goal but he was brought down by 'keeper Adrian Tully, who was sent off for the challenge. Eugene Cloonan's penalty was stopped on the line but Donoghue was on hand to convert the rebound.
Donal Moran extended Athenry's lead with two pointed frees but Four Roads came storming back into the contest courtesy of a 29th minute penalty. Nicky Cunniffe's effort was saved but the alert Paul Glennon rattled home the rebound. That goal meant Athenry only led by five points at half-time (1-10 to 1-5).
With Liam Gately and Thomas Lennon outstanding at midfield, Four Roads enjoyed their best spell of the match during the opening 15 minutes of the second half.
Unfortunately for them they found it extremely hard to penetrate an Athenry defence where John Feeney and Brian Higgins were in excellent form. Despite all their possession they only managed two points from Ray Mulry and Cunniffe and inevitably Athenry began to dominate.
They introduced Joe Rabbitte and after Cloonan and Moran picked off two points, Athenry pounced for the killer second goal. A move involving Moran and Feeney sent Cloonan on his way and his shot across the goal was deflected past stand-in keeper Micheal Mulry by Mannion.
To their credit Four Roads never gave up and with Cunniffe and Paul Connolly repelling the Athenry onslaught, they fought gamely. However, Rabbitte, Moran and sub Derek Carroll had points to seal the title victory.
SCORERS - Athenry: D Moran 0-7, E Cloonan 1-4, D Donoghue 1-1, C Moran, B Higgins, J Rabbitte, D Carroll 0-1 each. Four Roads: M Cunniffe 0-6, P Glennon 1-0, R Mulry 0-1.
ATHENRY - M Crinnins; E Keogh, G Keane, J Feeney; B Higgins, N Feeney, P Hardiman; J Hardiman, B Hanley; D Higgins, P Higgins, D Moran; C Moran, E Cloonan, D Donoghue. Subs: J Rabbitte for D Higgins (38), MJ Quinn for J Hardiman (38), D Carroll for D Donoghue (54).
FOUR ROADS - A Tully; P Mannion, P Connolly, P Lohan; N Cunniffe, M Mulry, G Coyle; L Gateley, T Lennon; N Cunniffe, D Lohan, P Glennon; J Mannion, R Mulry, B Mannion. Subs: C Naughton for Glennon (53), K Gateley for J Mannion (55).
REF - J Weldon (Westmeath).
Russell Clare's star
McGRATH CUP FINAL
CLARE 0-11; LONDON 0-4
FOR the first time since 1997 Clare were crowned McGrath Cup winners and in the process clinched their ninth title in all when they defeated London in yesterday's final at the Emerald Gaelic Grounds in Ruislip.
Kilkee Club man Denis Russell with four points from play emerged as top scorer for the Banner - all of his scores serving to brighten up what was otherwise a pretty drab affair played on a soft and energy sapping surface badly cut up from the earlier hurling game between Sixmilebridge and Fr Murphys.
London weren't that far off the mark. Their general play was quite good but far too often they were guilty of giving away possession in defence and attack and not surprisingly they were punished by the opposition.
Clare didn't set the world alight with their play. But over the hour they delivered enough to deservedly claim the silverware.
They led by 0-6 to 0-2 at half-time thanks largely to Russell's four first half points - and while the pace of the game improved a little in the second half, there was never any danger of Clare leaving London without the cup.
SCORERS - Clare: D Russell 0-5, G Keane, D O'Driscoll 0-2 each, J Considine, P Hehir 0-1 each. London: K Jackman 0-3 (2f), S Lynch 0-1 (f).
CLARE - J Hanrahan; K Nugent, N Hawes, E McGuane; M O'Connor, J Considine, P Smith; P McMahon, D O'Sullivan; G Keane, D Russell, N Meaney; D O'Driscoll, P Hehir, D Molohan. Subs: M O'Shea for McMahon, D Russell for Meaney, B Keating for Molohan.
LONDON - D Feeley; C Ó Murchú, P Rafter, N Barry; J Ryan, C Lynott, G Cassidy; T Murphy, R Quinn; F Cunningham, M Hessian, J Power; K Jackman, S Lynch, M McConomy. Subs: D Byrne for Ó Murchú, M Thompson for Power, S Sheehan for McConomy.
REF - S Corridan (London/Kerry).