Deadly Keary steers Loughrea to final spot
Galway SHC semi-final replay
Portumna's remarkable run of success was brought to an end as Loughrea, inspired by the free-taking of Neil Keary, edged them home in a gripping clash.
Portumna have been in the last seven Galway finals, winning five and going on to take three All-Ireland titles, but they just ran out of gas at Athenry on Saturday.
And it was no surprise that it was Loughrea who brought their run to an end. They have had the misfortune that the greatest era in the club's history has coincided with that of Portumna's and they have lost three county finals to them since 2003. But on Saturday they fully deserved their success and would have won by more had Portumna not scored a few late points and a goal from a long-range free by Andy Smith in the dying seconds.
Loughrea held Portumna scoreless from the 24th minute of the opening half until 11 minutes from the end, during which time they hit 0-7.
Portumna lost Eoin Lynch to a second yellow card, but this game was never dirty.
The free-takers took centre-stage for most of the opening half, with Johnny O'Loughlin turning the tie Loughrea's way after 23 minutes with a goal after latching on to Thomas Hoban's pass, following good work further back by Vinnie Maher.
Joe Canning and All Star Damien Hayes, both of whom were subdued, hit points to make it 1-7 to 0-9, but Loughrea pushed on during Portumna's scoreless half-hour to lead by 1-11 to 0-9 at the break and by 1-14 to 0-9 going into the final quarter. Ollie Canning was pushed into attack, but defenders Brian Mahony, Damien McClearn, Nigel Shaughnessy and Vinnie Maher were in control and Loughrea secured a final meeting with Clarinbridge.
Scorers -- Loughrea: N Keary 0-11 (0-9f, 0-1 '65); J O'Loughlin 1-2, N Shaughnessy (0-1f), J Coen, J Maher 0-1 each. Portumna: J Canning 0-10 (0-8f), A Smith 1-1 (1-0f), D Hayes 0-2, K Hayes 0-1.
Loughrea -- N Murray; B Mahony, D McClearn, E Mahony; N Shaughnessy, P Hoban, V Maher; E Mahony, G Keary; J Coen, J Maher, J Regan; T Hoban, J O'Loughlin, N Keary. Subs: K Colleran for T Hoban (54), B Dooley for G Keary (60), G Kennedy for J Regan (60).
Portumna -- I Canning; A O'Donnell, E McEntee, O Canning; E Lynch, M Ryan, G Heagney; L Smith, P Smith; A Smith, N Hayes, K Hayes; D Hayes; C O'Hare, J Canning. Subs: G Kelly for O'Hare (30), C Ryan for P Smith (30), R Royston for L Smith (35).
Ref -- P Greene.