Garryspillane 2-15 Kilmallock 2-12
By Diarmuid O’Flynn
RARELY can a first county title have been greeted with such celebrations as were seen in the Gaelic Grounds yesterday.
Garryspillane finally made the breakthrough by defeating neighbours Kilmallock in a passionate but tension-ridden Limerick senior hurling final.
It was 1-5 to 0-7 for Kilmallock at the half-way stage, five of the Garryspillane points coming from placed balls.
It was a similar tale for Kilmallock. Even their goal came as a result of a free, a well-struck O’Shaughnessy 20m shot being well saved by ‘keeper Darren Hayes, before the rebound was pounced on by O’Shaughnessy.
Within half a minute of the resumption Frankie Carroll had the game tied with his third pointed free (he finished with five from five).
A minute later county panellist Pat Tobin had the ball in the net after Carroll had brilliantly batted back into play a ball heading wide. Another couple of minutes later corner-forward Donie Ryan had a brace of well-taken points and suddenly at 1-10 to 1-5, Garryspillane were in the driving seat.
Kilmallock, however, were not about to let this one go. Two superb strikes from the left wing from Gavin O’Mahony brought the gap back to three points - then enter Mike Houlihan.
In the 41st minute he reached high, grabbed a long Mark Cronin free and crashed to the net.
Garryspillane responded when Donie Ryan first-timed the ball to the top corner. Again, Kilmallock came back and points from free-taker Paudie O’Dwyer, Eoin Ryan (two more Limerick minors), substitute Liam Walshe and O’Shaughnessy had it tied again with five minutes left at 2-11 apiece.
In those final minutes, Garryspillane were magnificent as points from James Ryan (another Limerick minor) and Carroll put them into an edgy lead.
A free for Kilmallock in a dangerous position, 20m out, wide left, became a throw-in after a bit of retaliation. That throw-in was won by Garryspillane and a long clearance up-field was grabbed by Carroll, who turned and shot home a point.
With so much talented youth, Kilmallock won’t be held back for much longer, while Tony Considine’s contribution to the Garryspillane breakthrough was singled out by captain David Ryan in his acceptance speech.
Scorers: Garryspillane: Donie Ryan 1-3; F Carroll 0-6 (0-5 frees); P Tobin 1-0; David Ryan 0-3 (frees); J Ryan 0-2; E Burke 0-1. Kilmallock: A O’Shaughnessy 1-4 (0-4 frees); M Houlihan 1-0; P O’Dwyer 0-3 (0-2 frees, 0-1 65); G O’Mahony 0-2; E Ryan 0-2; L Walshe 0-1.
GARRYSPILLANE: D Hayes; J Kiely, J Sheehan, A Noonan; C Hickey, David Ryan, T O’Donnell; J Ryan, M O’Donnell; TJ Ryan, P Tobin, M O’Brien; Donie Ryan, F Carroll, E Burke. Subs: S Burke (T O’Donnell 38) Blood sub: V O’Connell (Donie Ryan 44/45).
KILMALLOCK: T Hennessey; R Murphy, M Cronin, L Hurley; D O’Shaughnessy, B Carroll, A Maguire; P O’Dwyer, G O’Sullivan; E Ryan, A O’Shaughnessy, G O’Mahony; P Connery, M Houlihan; C O’Dwyer. Subs: L Walshe (Connery 40); B O’Sullivan (C O’Dwyer 42). Blood sub: J Kelly (O’Sullivan 56/57).
Referee: P O’Connor (Ahane).