Kilcormac-Killoughey 1-21 Birr 1-14
Twelve months after winning their first Offaly SHC title, Kilcormac-Killoughey impressively retained their crown at O’Connor Park yesterday.
Manager Danny Owens spoke afterwards of the importance of retaining the title and how the leinster champions wasted no time in setting their sights on this goal after losing the All-Ireland Club final to St Thomas’ of Galway on St Patrick’s Day.
"We never wanted to be regarded as a team that just won one title and then fell away after that, so to put two titles together was crucial for us. That was our focus ever since last March. Our heads were down after losing the All-Ireland final last year but there and then we resolved that we were going to do everything we could to retain this title" said Owens.
Yesterday’s victory was their eighth win in eight starts in the Offaly SHC this year and while Birr will look back with regret on eight first-half wides while playing into the wind, they would have found it very tough to resist Kilcormac-Killoughey’s late surge.
The Double K’s hit 1-4 in a four minute burst after the 50 minute mark. Dan Currams struck their vital late goal after linking up well with Peter Geraghty and while they had to defend two late 20m frees, neither Paul Cleary nor Simon Whelahan were able to get goals for the Birr club from those chances.
Kilcormac-Killoughey’s direct running style caused Birr plenty of problems in the early stages and even though it took24 minutes before Conor Mahon registered their first point from play, fine freetaking from Ciarán Slevin and two expertly struck sideline cuts meant that they led 0-9 to 0-3 at that point.
Birr responded with two points but K-K stepped up the intensity again in the last five minutes of the half and a point each from the Geraghty twins, Peter and Thomas, combined with two Slevin frees, gave them an eight point interval lead.
Three early Birr points reduced that deficit early in the second half but wayward shooting continued to haunt Johnny Pilkington’s charges. By the time Trevor Fletcher pointed to make it 0-17 to 0-10 in favour of K-K, the champions had struck three wides, in sharp contrast to Birr’s tally of 11.
A close range goal from Simon Whelahan and then a free from the same player offered the prospect of a grandstand finish, but the champions proved their worth by firing over a string of excellent points and then delivering the killer blow through full forward Currams.
Kilcormac-Killoughey scorers: Ciarán Slevin 0-11 (0-9f, 0-1 ‘65), D Currams 1-1, Conor Mahon, T Geraghty & P Geraghty (0-1 sideline) 0-2 each, B Leonard (sideline), T Fletcher & J Gorman 0-1 each.
Birr scorers: S Whelehan 1-2 (0-2f), D Hayden & P Mullins 0-4 each, M Dwane & P Cleary 0-2f each.
KILCORMAC-KILLOUGHEY: Conor Slevin; C Guinan, G Healion, Con Mahon; K Grogan, P Healion, B Leonard; K Leonard, D Kilmartin; Ciarán Slevin, Conor Mahon, P Geraghty; T Geraghty, D Currams, T Fletcher.
Subs: J Gorman for Fletcher (51 mins), J Geraghty for K Leonard (59), K Coyne for Kilmartin (60).
BIRR: B Mullins; B Harding, P Cleary, C Egan; S Ryan, R Hanniffy, B Watkins; B Whelahan, B Murphy; C Mulrooney, E Nolan, S Lonergan; D Hayden, P Mullins, M Dwane.
Subs: M Verney for Nolan (HT), T Bolger for Murphy (39 mins), S Whelahan for Dwane (43), C O’Callaghan for Egan (56).
Referee: Tony Carroll (Kinnitty).