Exiles hail Watson's enduring class
Warwickshire 0-17 Leitrim 0-11
Warwickshire manager Tony Joyce hailed Liam Watson's extra bit of class that helped the Exiles over the line against Leitrim in the Lory Meagher Cup final at Croke Park on Saturday.
Watson, who was nominated for an All-Star seven years ago, produced a stunning display to help his side overturn a 0-10 to 0-8 half-time deficit in perfect conditions for hurling.
The ex-Antrim sharp-shooter won a club All-Ireland with Loughiel Shamrocks in 2012, and Joyce hailed his enduring class.
"There wasn't that room for manoeuvre out there, he just had that little bit of extra speed. He's 34 but still he has the eye," said Joyce.
"His wife's from my parish, Gort na Mona, and he wasn't doing well over there (in Antrim). There's that much work in Birmingham. Four or five lads came in, he was one of them.
"You try and manufacture a team every year in England and five of them leave and go to America and you have to get another five in.
"It's hard to try and keep it all going, so you take what you can get, and you get Liam Watson."
Warwickshire were the dominant force during the group stages, and beat Leitrim 2-16 to 1-11 at Pairc na hEireann in May, but the Exiles were on the back foot for much of the first half, despite six frees from Watson.
Padraig O'Donnell hit five frees to push Leitrim - who qualified for the final by beating Sligo in a last round game at Carrick-on-Shannon - 0-10 to 0-8 clear at half-time.
Warwickshire began to hit their stride in the second half.
Leitrim had Colm Moreton and David McGovern sent off and Warwickshire pulled clear with their bench making an impact, and adding to Watson's devastating accuracy.
"We lost the League final and the pressure was on to win this one. It didn't look good at half-time but we rallied in the dressing-room and made a few changes," said Joyce.
"We thought we were a little bit fitter than them; we held our nerve and that's how it turned out."
Scorers - Warwickshire: L Watson 0-11fs, S Caulfield 0-2, D Kennedy, P Uniacke, C McBride, I Dwyer 0-1 each. Leitrim: P O'Donnell 0-6fs, C O'Donovan 0-2, Z Moradi, C Moreton, J Glancy 0-1 each.
Warwickshire - M Cremin 7; T Kelly 7, D Bruen 7, M O'Regan 7; J Collins 8, W Allen 7, D Kennedy 8; K Boxwell 8, P Uniacke 8; S Caulfield 8, C Robbins 7, I Dwyer 7; E McCabe 7, L Watson 9, K Magee 7. Subs: C McBride 7 for Collins (30), Collins for McBride (31), McBride for McCabe (52), S Hennessy 6 for Magee (68), J Meagher 6 for Boxwell (69), P Crehan 6 for Dwyer (72), C Convery 6 for Uniacke (73).
Leitrim - D Molloy 7; K McGrath 7, D Carton 6, V McDermott 6; E Moreton 7, C Byrne 7, D McGovern 6; L Moreton 7, J Glancy 7; C O'Donovan 6, C Moreton 6, K McDermott 6; P O'Donnell 7, C Cunniffe 7, Z Moradi 7. Subs: M Quinn 6 for K McDermott (50), G O'Hagan 6 for L Moreton (53).
Ref - J Connors (Donegal).