Kilcormac-Killoughey 2-21 Mount Leinster Rangers 0-10
Kilcormac-Killoughey will contest their third Leinster Senior Club Hurling final in six seasons after running out 17-point winners over Mount Leinster Rangers today.
The Offaly club responded to the loss of county midfielder Cillian Kiely with a whirlwind performance at Bord na Móna O’Connor Park in Tullamore.
Between the 25th minute, when Kiely received a straight red card on the advice of the umpire for driving the butt of his hurl into the back of Diarmuid Byrne, and the 53rd minute when Peter Geraghty collected a pass from James Gorman and easily slotted over his third point, the Offaly champions outscored their Carlow counterparts by 1-14 to 0-2.
They were worth every point of that too as they produced some excellent hurling at either end of the field, with their defence completely shutting down the opposition while forwards Dan Currams and James Gorman ran riot, scoring 2-8 from play between them.
In the early stages, the contest was played out exactly as most neutral observers expected, with little to call between two sides that hurled in All Ireland club finals in 2013 and 2014.
Mount Leinster Rangers played in some good low ball to full forward Chris Nolan and he cause Ger Healion some problems when he had some space to work with, while at the other end Conor Mahon led the way for Kilcormac-Killoughey with some excellent individual points.
Brendan Fennelly’s team took the lead for the first and only time after ten minutes, but even after they fell behind once more to points from Peter Geraghty and Ciarán Slevin, they were right in contention in what was a competitive, hard contest.
The physicality of the tie started to spill over after 25 minutes, when an altercation between Cillian Kiely and Richard Coady left both men very fired up and before play could restart, Kiely was seen by the umpires striking Diarmuid Byrne.
Instead of battening down the hatches however, as they did after Stephen Leonard was sent off in their quarter final win over Castletown Geoghegan, Kilcormac-Killoughey rose to the challenge immediately.
Conor Mahon fielded a Conor Slevin puckout less than sixty seconds later and duly burst past two tacklers, driving through and sending a powerful strike towards goal.
A stunning save from Frank Foley saw the sliothar fall perfectly for James Gorman to easily sweep it to the net with a first-time pull, and that proved to be the spark that ignited a sensational burst of play from the home side.
Two frees from Ciarán Slevin before half time – the latter of which was earned by an incredible series of tackles at midfield and then another driving run towards goal from Currams – were followed by four points in as many minutes after half time.
At this stage of the game Currams and Gorman were operating as a two-man full forward line and they completely dominated their direct opponents, with Fennelly choosing to deploy his extra man (Kevin McDonald) around midfield, as opposed to in his ailing full back line.
Gorman (3) and Currams stretched the lead out to 1-12 to 0-4 and while a brace of Mount Leinster Rangers points threatened to ignite a comeback, Kilcormac-Killoughey responded in fine style once again.
Points from each of the inside forwards and a superb score on the run from Stephen Leonard were crowned with a typically clinical solo goal from Currams, and when David Phelan joined Cillian Kiely on the sideline after receiving a red card for a wild pull across Damien Kilmartin, only the final winning margin was in doubt.
The gap between the sides crept up to 20 points before a flurry of late scores from Mount Leinster Rangers undid a small fraction of the damage, though it did nothing to mask the huge gulf that existed between these two clubs this afternoon.
Kilcormac-Killoughey Scorers: J Gorman 1-5, D Currams 1-3, Ciarán Slevin 0-5f, C Mahon 0-3, P Geraghty 0-2, C Kiely, S Leonard & T Geraghty 0-1 each.
Mount Leinster Rangers Scorers: C Nolan 0-4 (0-2f), D Byrne 0-2 (0-1f), T Joyce, D Murphy, P Coady & J Nolan 0-1 each.
Kilcormac-Killoughey: Conor Slevin; K Leonard, G Healion, E Grogan; K Grogan, D Kilmartin, J Quinn; Ciarán Slevin, C Kiely; J Gorman, C Mahon, T Geraghty; P Geraghty, P Healion, D Currams.
Subs: S Leonard for P Healion (18), A McConville for Leonard (60), J Geraghty for K Grogan (52), S Lowry for Kilmartin (55), S Guinan for Currams (56).
Mount Leinster Rangers: F Foley; W Hickey, R Kelly, M Doyle; E Coady, D Phelan, G Kelly; R Coady, D Byrne; E Byrne, J Murphy, P Coady; D Murphy, C Nolan, T Joyce.
Subs: M Malone for Hickey (18), K McDonald for R Coady (26), G Lawlor for E Coady (HT), J Nolan for D Murphy (HT).
Referee: John O’Brien (Laois).