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Goals give Portumna closure out of storm

On the podium afterwards the Galway hurling chair-man Mike Ryan was all too willing to smother Portumna with kindness. There was even special mention for that "great, young talent Joe Canning" and the expressed hope that he would soon be back in a Galway shirt.

Senior, we presumed. For Galway hurling and Portumna there are wounds to heal after last year's final controversy. Perhaps yesterday's third title in five years will give the club and county the closure it needs now.

Kinvara were caught in the eye of a vicious storm. Six minutes into the second half Damien Hayes slipped a pass through to brother Niall for his second goal, Portumna's fourth and many in the near 12,000 crowd began spilling for the exits.

Like hungry lions the Portumna forwards chased down defenceless prey all afternoon and gorged themselves on a goal frenzy. Every time the ball went into that zone where the Hayes brothers, Andrew Smith and Canning roamed a goal could be expected.

Kinvara's only previous senior final appearance in 1979 ended in a heavy 13 point defeat to Castlegar. This was worse. Still there is consolation in the fact that 12 months ago they were fighting a relegation battle.

Portumna played as if they had a point to prove and there was no mercy. They were ruthless at every turn and always had the scent of goal.

At times they hurled like a county team with Eugene McEntee magnificent at full-back, Micheal Ryan anchoring at centre-back early on and Eoin Lynch and Peter Smith so dominant at midfield.

Signs of a rout were evident early on and on 14 minutes, when Canning sent Hayes away and he teed up Smith for the opening goal, Portumna tails were up.

Two minutes later Damien Hayes blocked corner-back Aidan Moylan, skipped around him and popped a point to illustrate just how determined to win back their title they were.

It was a chastening experience for an already swamped Kinvara full-back line where Ger Mahon and Alan Leech lacked the necessary support.

Five yellow cards, three for Portumna, in the opening 17 minutes, gave the impression of misplaced intensity and even a small fracas at the end seemed so much out of place with the mood of the day.

Niall Hayes got the first of his goals on 18 minutes and just when Kinvara looked to have stemmed the flow coming up to half-time Portumna piled on 1-2 in just over two minutes -- Joe Canning got the goal -- for a 3-8 to 0-5 interval lead.

The fourth goal killed it and Canning added two more from close range as cracks appeared everywhere for a wilting Kinvara.

The gifted one has been busier and looked lost at centre- forward in the opening 25 minutes but how he can strike a ball. Portumna eased off the gas in the last quarter as Kinvara player manager Gerry McInerney graced his first county final at 42 years of age.

"Last year was a big burden on us with all the controversy so we're delighted to win this," admitted manager Portumna Jimmy Heverin afterwards.

"Of course it rankled with us, particularly with the subsequent suspensions that came out then. We felt it wasn't a reflection on what happened and that made the situation worse but I'd be of the mind that the occasion could have been spoiled for Loughrea as well," admitted Heverin.

"We flagged beforehand that there could have been a problem. We didn't want a big change but our request was denied so I think that distracted us.

"To an extent this will give us closure. We've been playing nervous hurling so this is like a monkey off our back. Hopefully we'll hurl more freely now," he stated. For those with All-Ireland club ambitions that is a chilling thought.

Scorers -- Portuma: J Canning 3-4 (0-3f, 0-1 sl), N Hayes 2-1, A Smith 1-1, D Hayes 0-3, E Lynch 0-2, L Smith 0-1. Kinvara: David Huban 0-7 (6f), A Byrne 0-2, C Kavanagh, Damien Huban 0-1 each.

Portumna -- I Canning; M Gill, E McEntee, O Canning; G Heagney, M Ryan, A O'Donnell; E Lynch, P Smith; N Hayes, J Canning, L Smith; A Smith, D Hayes, D Canning. Subs: K Hayes for D Canning (20), J O'Flaharta for Gill (54), C Ryan for N Hayes (55).

Kinvara -- C Callanan; A Moylan, G Mahon, P O'Sullivan; J Kavanagh, S Kavanagh, A Leech; S Moylan, G Wynne; N Curtin, David Huban, D Smith; C Burke, A Byrne, C Kavanagh. Subs: Damien Huban for A Moylan (ht), P Mahon for Wynne (ht), G McInerney for Smith (42), S Corcoran for J Kavanagh (48).

Ref -- A Kelly.