Clarinbridge slay Gaels to claim first SHC club title

Paul Coen, Clarinbridge, in action against Brian Kelly, O'Loughlin Gaels. Picture: SPORTSFILE

Clarinbridge 2-18 O'Loughlin Gaels 0-12

A dominant second half display earned Clarinbridge their first AIB All-Ireland Club SHC title at Croke Park this afternoon.

Mark Kerins (1-07) and Eoin Forde (1-04) were central to this victory as Clarinbridge battle back from a five-point deficit in the 27th minute.

The sides were tied at 1-07 to 0-10 at the interval, but O'Loughlin Gaels had just two second half points from Mark Bergin (0-06).

Their woes were compounded by a straight red card for substitute Seamie Cummins in injury-time.

O'Loughlin Gaels began this game in determined fashion and there were few signs of early nerves on their first outing at GAA headquarters.

Leinster Club Hurler of the Year Mark Bergin was in prolific form in the lead-up to this game, tallying up 1-26. So it was no surprise to see him opening the scoring after just 44 seconds.

Bergin's Championship total rose to 1-28 overall just three minutes into the final. By the ninth minute, a brace of Danny Loughnane points had helped Gaels into a 0-04 to 0-00 lead.

In a free-flowing opening to this contest, Clarinbridge hit back with a 11th minute score from Eoin Forde, but O'Loughlin Gaels continued to hold the upper hand.

Once Maurice Nolan slotted over his only point of the hour, it opened up an 0-08 to 0-03 lead for the Kilkenny and Leinster champions.

Forde kept Clarinbridge in touch, but efforts from Bergin, Martin Comerford, Alan Geoghegan and Danny Loughnane steered the cohesive Gaels four points clear.

However, Clarinbridge had a terrific finish to the opening half. Michael Donoghue's were 0-09 to 0-05 adrift before they roared back with a late rally.

Clarinbridge utilised the three minutes of injury-time to their full advantage. Gaels goalkeeper Stephen Murphy was beaten when a long delivery from Alan Kerins dropped short for his brother Mark to flick the ball to the net ahead of full-back Andy Kearns.

The tension spilled over in the aftermath of the goal as Kearns was seen to lash out at Mark Kerins at the Davin Stand end. The 23-year-old picked up a yellow card from referee Johnny Ryan following the incident.

As Clarinbridge turned the screw, Kerins was dragged down by Kearns for a penalty as he went in search of a second goal.

Clarinbridge had to be content with just a point from the resulting penalty strike from Kerins - the final's first score from a placed ball - as the half ended with the sides tied at 1-07 to 0-10.

Clarinbridge took the lead for the first time inside one minute of the restart, with Mark Kerins striking over his third point. His brother Mark tagged on another point three minutes later, and the momentum was most definitely with the Galway men at this stage.

Clarinbridge outscored Gaels by eight points to one over the third quarter and some of the best scores of the game were produced during this excellent spell. First half substitute Enda Collins provided two inspirational points from distance in the 35th and 39th minutes.

Superb scores also arrived from the Kerins brothers and corner forward Forde who contributed two fine points from play.

The lead stood at 1-15 to 0-12 in the 45th minute following Forde's second point, amid constant pressure on a now under-fire O'Loughlin Gaels defence.

There was no sign of Clarinbridge easing up and once Forde delivered his side's second goal eight minutes from the end, it propelled them into a double scores advantage at 2-18 to 0-12.

Neither side was able to add to their tally in the remaining minutes, with both Mark Kerins and Mark Bergin shooting wide of the target.

Frustration set in for Gaels as both Bergin and Eddie Kearns picking up yellow cards before substitute Cummins reached his marching orders in injury-time.

Clarinbridge's victory represents a great fillip for the village club and Galway hurling as they bring the Tommy Moore Cup west of the Shannon. They follow in the footsteps of five previous All-Ireland winners from the county - Castlegar, Kiltormer, Sarsfields, Athenry and Portumna.

CLARINBRIDGE: L Donoghue; C Forde, B Burke, P Callanan; J Cannon (0-01), D Forde, M Donoghue; B Daly, E Murphy (0-01); S Burke, M Kerins (1-07, 0-04f, 1-00 pen), S Forde; E Forde (1-04), A Kerins (0-02), P Coen (0-01).

Subs used: E Collins (0-02) for S Forde (29 mins).

O'LOUGHLIN GAELS: S Murphy; B Kelly, A Kearns, E Kearns; A O'Brien, B Hogan, N Bergin; P Dowling, M Nolan (0-01); N McEvoy, M Bergin (0-06, 0-02f), A Geoghegan (0-02); B Dowling, M Comerford (0-01), D Loughnane (0-02).

Subs used: S Cummins for B Dowling (half-time), B Murphy for Kelly (58 mins).

Referee: Johnny Ryan (Tipperary)

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