Tuesday 12 December 2017

Walsh efforts steer O'Donovan Rossa to take title

O'Donovan Rossa 1-9 Kilburn Gaels 2-3 (All Ireland IHC Club Final)

Kevin McDonnell, O'Donovan Rossa, in action against James Egan, left, and Keith Killilea, Kilburn Gaels
Kevin McDonnell, O'Donovan Rossa, in action against James Egan, left, and Keith Killilea, Kilburn Gaels
O'Donovan Rossa's Michael Armstrong, left, and Thomas Morgan, celebrate after the game
A dejected Martin Duggan, Kilburn Gaels after discarding his shirt after the game

O'Donovan Rossa are the All Ireland intermediate club champions after overcoming Kilburn Gaels in a tense contest at Croke Park.

The Belfast side were never behind and led from the 24th minute. Wing-back Gerard Walsh, who was outstanding for the Ulster champions, put his side a point up six minutes before the break before Sean Shannon edged them two clear. Stephen Beatty finished a long ball to the net two minutes into the second half and it looked like a decisive goal, such was the dearth of scoring chances.

But the London side battled back and Killilea finished brilliantly to the top corner after being picked out by Mark O'Dwyer.

Walsh put his side three points ahead 47 minutes in before midfielder Deaglin Murphy stretched the lead to four points with 10 minutes left.

A minute later Killilea again dragged his side back into contention, this time finding the bottom left corner of Christopher McDonnell's goal to seemingly hand the momentum to Tom Bergin's side. O'Donovan Rossa showed commendable character after that blow to move up and Michael Armstrong put them 1-8 to 2-3 up with three minutes left on the clock. They finally sealed the win a minute into injury time and, fittingly, it was Walsh who burst into the open space in front of him from his own half-back line to land a monster score and confirm a man-of-the-match performance.

Scorers - Kilburn Gaels: K Killilea 2-1, S Lambert 0-1 (1f), H Vaughan 0-1. O'Donovan Rossa: G Walsh 0-3 (1f), S Beatty 1-0, Sean Shannon 0-2 (2f), Stephen Shannon 0-2 (2 '65s'), D Murphy, M Armstrong 0-1 each.

Kilburn Gaels - K Finnegan; C Hickey, L Gaule, C McAlinden; N Brophy, B Regan, K Kennedy (capt); H Vaughan, B Kiely; S Lambert, J Egan, M Duggan; K Killilea, M O'Dwyer, P Kennedy. Subs: A Power for P Kennedy (29), N McDonnell for Kiely (39).

O'Donovan Rossa - C McDonnell; C Orchin, E O'Neill, K McDonnell; Stephen Shannon, C McClelland, G Walsh; C McElhatton, D Murphy; S Beatty, C McGuinness (capt), M Armstrong; A Orchin, T Morgan, Sean Shannon. Subs: J McGuinness for McElhatton (21), M Turley for McGuinness (31), G Bell for O'Neill (47), C McVeigh for Sean Shannon (55).

REF - T Carroll (Offaly).

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