Slevin puts Special Ks back on top of pile
K/Killoughey 2-16 St Rynagh's 1-16 - Offaly SHC Final
Kilcormac/Killoughey ended their goal drought at just the right time at O'Connor Park yesterday.
The K/K team which has fought so many big battles with their closest rivals St Rynagh's since 2012 could not buy a goal once the play-off stages began.
Neither could reigning champions Rynagh's but when it counted most, three green flags were raised in a tense decider, with two of them going to Kilcormac/Killoughey in the first half.
The stormy gusts of wind made this the proverbial game of two halves.
K/K made terrific use of the elements in the first half to lead 2-10 to 0-5 at the break.
The goals were crucial, and fate played a part in the first one which really lifted the spirits of the K/K side.
Ace midfielder Ciaran Slevin got a cut on his elbow in a tackle and played on as long as he could until referee Richie Fitzsimons finally caught up with him and told him to get it treated.
Blood sub Oisin Mahon came on for the few minutes it took for Slevin's elbow to be bandaged, and when he came back on, Slevin found himself in possession of the sliotar and opportunity knocking loudly on his door.
"That's the first time I've ever seen a blood sub work with a lad coming back on," said Slevin. "I ran back onto the field and my marker was gone the far side, and I had 80 yards to run into. I couldn't believe it, and thank God when it came to me I was able to stick it into the corner."
That goal came in the 16th minute and moved K/K into a 1-5 to 0-3 lead.
Within six minutes, two significant events occurred to add to their momentum.
First, Thomas Geraghty showed pace, power and strength to battle his way into the heart of the Rynagh's defence and slam the ball to the net for a second goal.
Just then, K/K manager Stephen Byrne made a 21st-minute substitution bringing on Faithful stalwart Dan Currams for Peter Geraghty.
Currams was thought to be unfit due to an ankle injury, but Byrne knew he was ready to play a part in this final.
His three-point contribution from him was important, as Rynagh's turned the tide in the last 15 minutes.
The 2016 champions took time to make good use of their wind advantage on the resumption.
Once they got into their stride, the free-taking of Stephen Quirke kept the scoreboard ticking away, and a 51st-minute goal by substitute Joseph O'Connor cut the deficit to 2-13 to 1-11.
Frees by Quirke and centre-back Aidan Treacy then made it a three-point game with two minutes left.
Currams showed his class with a vital score, almost nonchalantly smacking the sliotar over the bar from long range to give his team a four-point margin.
The referee signalled for two minutes injury-time and the concluding exchanges were hectic as Rynagh's threw everything they had into the effort to get on level terms.
Treacy's free and Quirke's point from play cut the gap to two as the clock counted down to the final whistle, but man of the match Slevin had the last word.
Thomas Geraghty rose high to catch sliotar from his keeper's puck-out and won a free. Up stepped Slevin, but not before a brief debate with fellow midfielder Cillian Kiely.
"He wanted to hit it but we had a rule that if it was inside the 60 I was hitting them, so I told him it was five yards inside the 60, so I was going to take it," said Slevin.
"Thankfully I hit it fairly well and it went over. That's what you have to do. You have to hold your nerve. That bit of experience over the last three or four years when we won a few helped us."
Slevin's team-mates did all that could be asked, particularly Killian Leonard, who made a number of key interceptions under pressure, while Damien Kilmartin, Ger Healion, Stephen Leonard, Geraghty and skipper Peter Healion gave strong performances.
Manager Stephen Byrne said: "We have over 100 training sessions done. I knew by them in the last two weeks that they were up for this game."
Rynagh's manager Fintan O'Connor lamented: "Momentum is a big thing and a goal is a huge momentum swinger. When they get two goals in five or six minutes it gives them a bit of confidence and it rocks our lads.
"The damage done in the ten minutes before half-time left us with a lot to do and in fairness to the lads, they died with their boots on, you couldn't be prouder of the effort they put in."
Scorers - Kilcormac/Killoughey: Ciaran Slevin 1-7 (0-5fs), T Geraghty 1-1, D Currams 0-3, E Grogan, C Kiely (f), J Gorman, P Healion, S Leonard 0-1 each. St Rynagh's: S Quirke 0-7 (6fs); A Treacy 0-4 (3fs, 1 '65'), J O'Connor 1-0, S Dolan 0-3, G Scales, R Hughes 0-1 each.
Kilcormac-Killoughey - Conor Slevin; K Leonard, G Healion, E Grogan ; K Grogan, D Kilmartin, J Quinn; C Kiely, Ciarán Slevin, J Gorman, C Mahon, P Geraghty; T Geraghty, P Healion, S Leonard. Subs: O Mahon for Ciaran Slevin (2-16, blood sub)D Currams for P Geraghty (21), B Leonard for P Healion (52), O Mahon for E Grogan (56).
St Rynagh's: C Clancy; D Maloney, D Shortt, N Wynne; C Hernon, A Treacy, B Conneely; G Kelly, P Camon; S Dolan, S Wynne, G Conneely; M Maloney, S Quirke, G Scales.
Ref - R Fitzsimons (Birr)
Evergreen Cullen leads Tones to fifth title on the spin
Wolfe Tones 2-11 Longford Slashers 2-10 - Longford SHC Final
Wolfe Tones completed a five-in-a-row of Longford hurling titles with a one-point win over Longford Slashers in Pearse Park.
Slashers, chasing their first title since 2001, had led by two points with just five minutes remaining but the Mostrim side finished the stronger to win their eighth title in nine years.
Slashers made the most of their wind advantage in the first half to lead by 2-5 to 1-3 at the break.
Slashers’ Reuben Murray struck for the first of his two goals in the 18th minute, giving his side a two-point lead.
Murray then pounced for his second goal with 25 minutes gone to give Slashers an eight-point lead. However, Wolfe Tones responded with a John Mulhern goal, from a free in the 23rd minute, bringing his side back into the game.
A pointed free from Wolfe Tones sub Paddy Cullen left a goal between the sides with 12 minutes remaining but an Eoin Donnellan score restored Slashers’ four-point lead two minutes later.
Wolfe Tones then had Mark Tully sent off on a straight red in the 52nd minute. Tones took the lead with just four minutes remaining though, the prominent Mulhern set up Seamus Hannon, who finished to the net.
A pointed free from John Newman left it 2-11 to 2-9 to Tones going into stoppage time only for Murray to bring the gap back to a single point again. However, a defiant Wolfe Tones, boosted by veteran sub Cullen, held on to continue their dominance.
Scorers – Wolfe Tones: J Mulhern 1-4 (0-2f); S Hannon 1-0; J Newman 0-3 (2f); D Connell and P Cullen 0-2 each. Longford Slashers: R Murray 2-2; E Donnellan 0-3; K Murray 0-2; S Stakelum , J Casey and G Ghee 0-1 each.
Wolfe Tones – A Kelly; A Sheridan, B Stakem, J Gaffney; C McLoughlin, D Duggan, C Fahy; M Coyle, D Connell; J Newman, S Hannon M Tully; L Kelly, S Browne, J Mulhern. Subs: P Cullen for Kelly (40), J Gaffney for Browne (54).
Longford Slashers – T Hawes; P Hegarty, E Kavanagh, P Leonard; S Farrell, J Balfe, D Regan; S Stakelum, J Casey; G Ghee, E Donnellan, S Davis; C Kavanagh, K Murray, R Murray. Subs: M Morrissey for C Kavanagh (30), C Regan for Hegarty (inj, 41), C Gallagher for S Davis (52).
Ref – K McGeeney (Roscommon).
Clarke’s haul dethrones Raharney
Castletown-Geoghegen 1-18 Raharney 1-16 - Westmeath SHC Final
Castletown-Geoghegan ended a four-year wait to regain the Westmeath senior hurling crown with a deserved win over reigning champions Raharney at Mullingar.
Aided by a strong wind, and with Westmeath captain Aonghus Clarke excelling from frees and play, Castletown-Geoghegan were 0-10 to 0-4 ahead when Cormac Deegan lobbed the ball over the advancing Andrew Doyle for a 29th-minute goal.
Raharney’s only marksman in the first half, Killian Doyle, and Clarke then traded frees, leaving the holders trailing 1-11 to 0-5 at half-time.
A great point from Niall O’Brien in the 47th minute proved to be his side’s second-last score of the contest.
Raharney fired over five unanswered points via the Doyle twins, Killian and Ciaran, two from Brian Smyth, and another from sub Eoin Keyes.
However, Clarke brought his tally to a dozen points with a crucial free in the fourth minute of added-time.
Joey Boyle’s last-gasp goal for Raharney gave them a glimmer of hope but the final whistle blew less than a minute later.
Castletown-Geoghegan now travel to face Offaly champions Kilcormac/Killoughey in the first round of the Leinster club championship.
Scorers – Castletown-Geoghegan: A Clarke 0-12 (9f), C Deegan 1-0, N O’Brien and S Clavin 0-2 each, D McCormack and M Heeney 0-1 each. Raharney: K Doyle 0-9 (6f, 1 s/l), J Boyle 1-0, B Smyth 0-2, G Greville, C Doyle, E Keyes, J Shaw and R Greville 0-1 each.
Castletown-Geoghegan – P Maloney; N McKenna, L Varley, E Óg Clarke; C Kane, S Clavin, E Quinn; M Heeney, D Lynch; P Maxwell, A Clarke, D McCormack; J Clarke, N O’Brien, C Deegan. Subs: D McDermott for E Clarke (35), K Glennon for McCormack (56), J Bermingham for Maxwell (60 + 3).
Raharney – A Doyle; S Quinn, C Jordan, G Greville; D Giles, P Greville, T Doyle; N Flanagan, C Boyle; J Goonery, B Smyth, J Shaw; R Greville, K Doyle, J Boyle. Subs: A Sheils for T Doyle (35), C Doyle for C Boyle (37), E Keyes for Goonery (46), D Finn for Flanagan (49), C Boyle for Smyth (56).
Ref – M Murtagh (Clonkill).