By Cóilín Duffy
Allianz NHL Division 3A Final
Warwickshire 0-20 Louth 1-14
Paul Hoban fired four vital second-half points from placed balls as Warwickshire claimed Allianz Hurling League Division 3A silverware in ideal conditions at Trim GAA Club this afternoon.
Having lost last years final after extra-time to Longford Tony Joyce’s charges were keen to make amends in a league decider, and while they came out on top at the end, the Birmingham outfit were made work ard over the hour.
Defences were strong for both sides in the opening half, with Louth shading a 1-6 to 0-7 interval lead.
Clare native Niall Arthur fired five of Louth’s six points from frees before the break, with Andrew McCrave claiming their other point.
Paul Hoban, Michael O’Regan and Adrian Downey were among those showing well at the back for Warwickshire,as was keeper Conor Robbins, although Gerard Smyth managed to sneak the ball past Robbins in the 12th minute.
It came following good work also by Seaghan Connolly, after a Warwickshire puckout following a wide from a free by Arthur.
Both sides were guilty of a number of misses in the first half in particular, but grew in confidence as this game progressed.
Warwickshire’s seven first half scores came from six different players, with Paul Uniacke claiming two, and Hoban, Niall McKenna, Garry Lennon and Niall Kennedy adding a point each.
In their group stages game the sides finished tied at 1-16 apiece, and no more than two points separated them in today’s match.
Indeed the teams were level on eight occasions in the second half, before a strong Warwickshire finish.
Louth led by 1-12 to 0-14 with 14 minutes remaining following a Gerry Arthur score, before Warwickshire regained the lead with Hoban and Shane Caulfield points.
A Niall Arthur point levelled proceedings again, before a 65th minute excellent long range point from Donal Ryan edged Louth ahead.
However, this was Philip O’Brien’s sides last score, as Warwickshire added three unanswered points
Antrim native McKenna firing two pointed frees, and Hoban with a late 65’ converted to ensure a three-point victory
The win was Warwickshire’s first competitive victory over Louth
After the game Warwickshire captain Donncha Kennedy received the cup for Leinster GAA PRO Martin O’Halloran.
WARWICKSHIRE: Conor Robbins; Michael O’Rean, John Collins, Dean Bruen; Adrian Downey, Paul Hoban (0-5, 4f, 1 65), Donncha Kennedy; Paul Uniacke (0-2), Shane Caulfield (0-2); Ian Dwyer, Niall Kennedy (0-3), Niall McKenna (0-6, 6f); Garry Lennon (0-1), Domhnall Nugent, Kelvin Magee (0-1). Subs: Colm McBride for Lennon (50); Padraic Crehan for Dwyer (62).
LOUTH: Stephen Hackett; Mark Wallace, Mike Lyons, Conor Mathews; Stephen Kettle, Ronan Byrne (0-1, 1f), Andrew McCrave (0-1); Donal Ryan (0-1), Mark Molloy (0-1); Gerard Smyth (1-0), Gerry Arthur (0-1), Shane Callan; Seaghan Connolly, Niall Arthur (0-9, 8f), Paddy Lynch. Subs: Diarmuid Murphy for Mathews (33); Paul Mathews for Lynch (40); Paddy McCormack for Smyth (59); John Martin for Connelly (68).
REFEREE: Shane Hynes (Galway)