Historic first Leinster title for Coolderry

Coolderry's Kevin Brady under pressure from Garrett Sinnott and Michael Jacob of Oulart-the-Ballagh. Picture: INPHO

Leinster Club SHC final: Oulart-the-Ballagh (Wexford) 1-11 Coolderry (Offaly) 1-15

The hurlers of Coolderry made history at Nowlan Park this afternoon as they were crowned AIB Leinster Club SHC champions for the first time.

Offaly forward Cathal Parlon smacked home the winners’ only goal, 90 seconds into the second half, and Ken Hogan’s side showed great tenacity to hold off pre-match favourites Oulart-the Ballagh.

The Wexford champions staged a late rally as their corner back Paul Roche sent a close range free into the Coolderry net with seven minutes remaining.

Nicky Kirwan, one of Oulart’s leading scorers, then blasted a shot across the face of the goal in the dying moments, but Coolderry deservedly held on to take a memorable win.

Both sides quickly got into their stride in sunny but cold conditions. Coolderry’s Brian Carroll sent over a point from play from the right, and Eoin Moore replied from play and from a free.

Oulart increased their advantage with a Rory Jacob score, but Coolderry reeled off a succession of scores to lead by 0-5 to 0-4 after 22 minutes.

Damien Murray grabbed his first two of a five-point haul, Parlon also split the posts and Eoin Ryan landed a lovely over the shoulder effort.

Oulart goalkeeper Ben O’Connor did well to deny Ryan, and his opposite number Stephen Corcoran had to tip over a dipping shot from Darren Nolan.

Corcoran was the busier of the two net minders, hoovering up a number of Oulart shots that dropped short of the target. Indeed, Liam Dunne’s men were let down by eight first half wides.

A Parlon point from play, three minutes before half-time, gave Coolderry a 0-6 to 0-5 advantage at the break and although Nolan briefly levelled when play resumed, Hogan’s charges showed no signs of dropping off the pace.

Parlon delighted the Coolderry by completing a powerful run at the Oulart defence with a fine finish past O’Connor and their confidence grew after that goal.

Barry Teehan, Carroll (0-2) and Murray strung together points, sandwiching a single effort from Kirwan at the other end. Oulart dug deep and closed the gap back to 1-10 to 0-10, with Moore and Kirwan on target again.

Substitutes Stephen Doyle and Kevin Connolly quickly got on the scoresheet for both sides as the intensity increased. Coolderry maintained their rhythm however, with scores from Murray and Parlon keeping them on course.

Oulart were becoming more desperate as time ticked by. Roche’s rasping shot which found the bottom left corner of the net gave them a lifeline.

But four points was as close as they were to get as Coolderry, driven on by the disappointment of last year’s provincial campaign, finished as very worthy champions.

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