Four Roads get back to winning ways
Four Roads 1-19 Athleague 1-8
Four Roads re-established their dominance in Roscommon hurling with a comfortable victory over last year's champions Athleague.
Having won eight titles between 2008 and 2015, Four Roads were forced to settle for second best in the last three finals. But the Tisrara club has never lost four deciders in succession, and the class of 2019 powered past their great rivals.
From the moment James Cunniffe got a goal after five minutes, Four Roads retained a vice-like grip on the contest.
Athleague rallied briefly and Eamon Flanagan's goal at the three-quarter stage gave his side a flicker of hope. But Four Roads got the final six points of the contest to run out deserving winners.
Inspired by Cathal Dolan and Pádraig Kelly, Joe Mannion's charges made an impressive start. Brendan Mulry unselfishly set up Cunniffe for the game's opening goal before two Dolan points from play ensured that Four Roads had laid down an early marker.
Athleague played in fits and starts but were second best in most departments, although Flanagan tried to keep them in touch from frees alongside a good point by Cian Murray.
Leading by 1-7 to 0-5 at the break, Johnny Coyne marked his introduction with a point from play. Flanagan (free), Ben McGahon and Cormac Kelly just about kept Athleague in touch but four points in succession from Dolan (two), Noel Fallon and Kelly suggested that Four Roads had done enough as they led by 1-13 to 0-8.
Flanagan's goal merely poked the bear, and Kelly (2), Shane Curley, Dolan (2) and Coyne pointed in the last ten minutes to regain the Mickey Cunniffe Cup.
SCORERS - Four Roads: C Dolan 0-9 (6f); P Kelly 0-5; J Cunniffe 1-0; N Fallon, J Coyle 0-2 each; S Curley 0-1. Athleague: E Flanagan 1-5 (3f, 1 '65); C Murray, B McGahon, C Kelly 0-1 each.
FOUR ROADS - D Dowd; Cormac Coyle, J Lawlor, Martin McLoughlin; J Donnelly, M Kelly, J Moran; S Curley, Conor Coyle; C Dolan, N Fallon, P Kelly; J Cunniffe, B Mulry, A Lawlor. Subs: J Coyne for A Lawlor (h-t), D Treacy for Cunniffe (51), D Kelly for Donnelly (57), J Fitzmaurice for Fallon (60), Mark McLoughlin for Martin McLoughlin (60).
ATHLEAGUE - D Connell; D Delaney, A Moore, A Donnelly; N Connolly, G Fallon, P Nolan; D Heavey, C Kelly; D Flaherty, B McGahon, S Kilcommons; C Murray, R Fallon, E Flanagan. Subs: E Coyle for Kilcommons (h-t), T Clayton for Donnelly (38), P Flaherty for McGahon (56), T Connaughton for Murray (56).
REF - C Browne (Galway)