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Owens' men overcome gallant Raharney at the death

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A goal from captain Dan Currams helps Kilcormac Killoghey overcome Raharney at the death. Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

A goal from captain Dan Currams helps Kilcormac Killoghey overcome Raharney at the death. Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

A goal from captain Dan Currams helps Kilcormac Killoghey overcome Raharney at the death. Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

MISSION accomplished in Mullingar for Offaly champions Kilcormac/Killoughey but manager Danny Owens knows just how close his side came to suffering a shock knockout blow.

"It was everything we expected it to be," he said. I've trained clubs down here in Westmeath in the past and I know the quality of hurling in Westmeath is high, and it's probably not reflected at county level.

"They were always going to be a difficult team to beat. It was a ding-dong game that could have gone either way.

"We probably should have had more on the board early in the game when we had real dominance in the first ten or 15 minutes, but after that, when they got the goal, it became a ding-dong battle.

"I suppose our ability to know how to win came through in the end, and we showed great heart and resilience, but we've a lot of improving to do before we take on the Dublin or Kilkenny champions in the final," said Owens.

Raharney did their club and Westmeath's hurling reputation proud, only to fall just short of the winning post at the death.

In truth, Dan Currams' injury-time goal grafted an unrealistic impression of bookies favourites justifying the pre-match odds, because Raharney were only a puck of a ball away from achieving a notable scalp.

Cometh the hour, however, cometh the men whose experience gave KK that vital edge.

Almost as soon as Ciaran Doyle (17), scored a superb point from long range to lift his team to 1-8, Ciaran Slevin and Cillian Kiely struck two points in quick succession to leave the sides level with six minutes to go.

CLIPPING

Over those closing stages, the battle-hardened Kilcormac/Killoughey players dug the result out of their bootlaces, with Ciaran Slevin clipping over two points from frees, and that Dan Currams goal catching Raharney's defence up field desperately chasing a goal.

Ciaran Slevin, scorer of 0-9 for his side, missed a couple of chances when squeaky-bum time arrived in the last ten minutes, but he didn't let it bother him.

"I had to take an extra couple of deep breaths on that last free," said Slevin.

"That was down to the wire again. We seem to be making a habit for ourselves of pushing it all the way.

"They were working hard, but we just said, 'Keep going to the very end'. That's the attitude we have in this team and it paid off at the finish," said Slevin.

The intrigue of the match was enhanced by the teacher-pupil relationship and family ties among the two sides.

KK full-back Ger Healion, who teaches in St Joseph's Rochfortbridge, was up against some past and current pupils.

Among those schoolboys he was due to see today in school were the Doyle twins, Killian and Ciaran, who featured in the Raharney forward line.

Healion, a twin brother of KK centre-back Peter, must have felt like loading young Ciaran with extra homework this week when the teenager had the temerity to poach Raharney's goal after 10 minutes.

The goal was against the run of play, but it boosted Raharney who got to half-time on level terms at 1-4 to KK's 0-7.

This was never a classic, but it did command a level of fascination as the gritty battles for possession and the grinding nature of the contest meant the result was in doubt almost to the end.

Raharney sub Brian Connaughton came agonisingly close to scoring a 48th-minute goal, only to be denied by Ger Healion.

KK didn't cough up another opening for a goal from there to the finish.

Owens brought on just one sub, Thomas Geraghty, in the second half and he made a strong impact.

The manager was also pleased with the outcome of switching Con Mahon from corner-back into midfield.

"When the switches work out, it's great, when they don't it's a bad day, but we did enough to get over the line today," said Owens.

Raharney manager Johnny Greville summed up the feelings in his side's dressing room.

"We're absolutely gutted. The scoreline at the end isn't really a fair reflection of the game as a whole. That 25 minutes in the second half was probably the best we've played all year.

"It could have been an injection for the whole of Westmeath for us to get a step further. We're getting a bit sick of moral victories now.

"Our lads are young. They were coming up against a formidable outfit. They're (K/K) a seasoned team.

"At the end of the day it probably came down to their little bit of cuteness, but we hope this experience will stand to us," said Greville.

Family ties were to the fore with each side having two sets of twins in their panel - the aforementioned Doyle boys and Gary and Robbie Greville for Raharney, and the Healions plus Peter and Thomas Geraghty with Kilcormac/Killoughey.

Scorers -K/K: C Slevin 0-9 (5fs); D Currams 1-0; C Kiely 0-2; P Geraghty 0-1 (sideline); B Leonard 0-1. Raharney: C Doyle 1-3 (1f); K Doyle 0-3 (1f); J Shaw, J Boyle 0-1 each.

Kilcormac/Killoughey - Conor Slevin; Con Mahon, G Healion, A McConville; K Grogan, P Healion, B Leonard; D Kilmartin, K Leonard; Ciaran Slevin, Conor Mahon, C Kiely; J Gorman, D Currams, P Geraghty. Subs: T Geraghty for J Gorman (39).

Raharney - A Doyle; T Doyle, C Jordan, D Giles; G Greville, P Greville, A Shiels; N Flanagan, C Boyle; J Boyle, K Doyle, R Greville; C Doyle, B Smyth, J Shaw. Subs: C Flanagan for T Doyle (35); F Boyle for B Smyth (38); B Connaughton for N Flanagan (47).

Ref - D Hughes (Carlow)

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