Tuesday 20 February 2018

Coen finds range as Gort end Clarinbridge's reign

The silverware keeps stacking up for Mattie Murphy, who has added a county senior title to an All-Ireland minor championship in the space of two months.

In three stints as Galway minor manager, Murphy has delivered six All-Ireland titles, but senior championship success had previously eluded him. This victory will be all the sweeter as a result.

Clarinbridge's reign as All-Ireland champions has lasted a little less than eight months. This was far from their best performance, and if it hadn't been for the marksmanship and all-round play of Mark Kerins, they might have been much further adrift before substitute Billy Lane's goal brought them parity, 1-11 to 0-14, on 46 minutes.

Clarinbridge have a reputation for being a second-half team and the evidence of that is exemplified by the manner in which they won the All-Ireland title in March.


But after Lane pounced on a mistake by Gort goalkeeper Peter Cummins, who batted down a David Forde point attempt, they could find little more.

Despite taking the lead through Stephen Forde on 56 minutes, a point that ended a 10-minute scoreless spell, it was Gort who finished stronger with converted frees from Aidan Harte (two) and captain Andy Coen, who gave them the lead with a monster effort on 61 minutes after Sylvie Og Linnane was fouled.

Clarinbridge had a heavy schedule in recent weeks and there were strong suggestions that they refused to take part in a pre-match parade as a protest at the Galway Hurling Board's refusal to defer the final by a week.

Gort were much more physically imposing from the start and they thundered into tackles with enthusiasm and conviction.

Harte finished with six points, four from play from centre-forward, and Paul Killilea used his power to great effect and linked well with full-forward Ollie Fahy.

Fahy has given almost two decades of service to the Gort senior team so this was a fitting reward for the 35-year-old.

Gerard Quinn's frees helped to establish control and Gort were 0-9 to 0-6 ahead at the break, having led by 0-8 to 0-2 on 20 minutes when Fahy scored after a great interception and clearance from McMahon in his own full-back line.

With David Forde and Alan Kerins growing more influential, Clarinbridge improved after the break and Lane's goal looked like setting them up for back-to-back titles.

But Eoin Forde's dismissal for a second yellow card tilted the balance back in Gort's favour and their hunger drove them across the line.

Quinn had been replaced after 44 minutes but his colleagues were able to step up to the mark to convert frees under pressure.

Murphy claimed afterwards that Gort teams have never been afraid of Clarinbridge.

"We would have a reasonably good record against Clarinbridge over the years," Murphy said.

"Even though they are All-Ireland champions they didn't strike fear into us.

"They had a great season last year, but you would have to say that Portumna in full flow would be a different animal.

"We look at it and say 'we're from Gort and shouldn't they be just as worried about us.' We have a lot of quality players and our underage structure is as good as anyone's in the county.

"We were here in 2008 and we were probably a bit immature, physically and mentally. Three years in a young fella's life makes a big difference. You get turned over in a county final once and it hurts. You get back into it and you just hope you can set the record straight."

Scorers -- Gort: G Quinn (6f), A Harte (2f) 0-6 each, G O'Donoghue 0-2, O Fahy, S Forde, A Coen (f) all 0-1 each. Clarinbridge: M Kerins 0-7 (6f, 1 '65'), B Lane 1-0, A Kerins, S Burke 0-2 each, S Forde 0-1.

Gort -- P Cummins; A Coen, M McMahon, M Cummins; J Grealish, B Regan, G Lally; S Forde, S Og Linnane; G Quinn, P Killilea, A Harte; R Cummins, O Fahy, G O'Donoghue. Subs: K Killilea for Quinn (44), A Mullins for Forde (54), K Finnegan for P Cummins (55).

Clarinbridge -- L Donoghue; C Forde, B Burke, P Callanan; J Cannon, D Forde, M Donoghue; B Daly, E Murphy; S Burke, M Kerins, S Forde; E Forde, A Kerins, P Coen. Sub: B Lane for Murphy (h-t).

Ref -- A Kelly.

Irish Independent

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