Win comes at a price for Finuge

Finuge 2-13 Aghabullogue 3-4

Late in the second half - shortly after Aghabullogue had Barry Kiely sent off for a second yellow card offence, the victors had Raymond Galvin red-carded, thus ruling him out of the divisional decider.

By that stage, however, their victory was assured, following a contest which was decidedly one-sided in the early stages until the Cork champions produced the first of their three goals.

Over the course of the hour, the referee issued six yellow cards in addition to dismissing the two players. but, while the exchanges were often tough, this final was generally decided in a wholehearted and fair manner.

On the day, Finuge's considerably greater experience - reflected in the presence of four all-ireland senior medal-winners - was vital, all the more so when Aghabullogue's preparations had been limited by an outbreak of 'flu in the camp. More notably, perhaps, all but three of the winning team are hurlers!

After Barry Kiely failed to take advantage of a goal chance for Aghabullogue immediately after the throw-in, they were to make virtually no impact in attack over the next 15 minutes - by which time Finuge were six points clear. In the opening exchanges they proved themselves a much better balanced combination, with Eamonn Fitzmaurice very influential at centre-back, Eamonn Breen making a big impact on his right and Paul Galvin giving good leadership to the attack. In early raids corner-forwards Raymond Galvin and Michael Conway were prominent and they were to play important roles later.

The first signs of optimism for Aghabullogue followers came after Connie Lucey began to win ball at midfield and later at right half-back. and then, out of the blue, his midfield partner Niall Buckley hit a fine goal in the 17th minute after dribbling the ball past several defenders. Eight minutes later only a point seperated the sides, before Finuge again got on top and Paul Galvin inspired them with a well-taken goal (set up by Maurice Corridan). At the break, it was 1-8 to 1-3 for the Kerry side.

Aghabullogue again showed promise after Paul O'Rourke goaled with a superbly struck low ball from about 25 yards range and a point from Declan Kiely - what proved to be the only one from a free in the entire game - again reduced the margin to the minimum one score.

To Finuge's credit, they responded to this latest challenge by settling down to take control - and this time they were to more or less maintain their dominance all the way to the end. Paul Galvin was more involved at centre-forward, without ever realising his true potential, Breen - noticeably fit and very eager - remained a powerful figure - and Fitzmaurice continued to command the centre. And it was Breen who got their second goal in the 38th minute, after 'keeper David Moynihan saved from Conway.

Kiely was sent off six minutes later, to be followed by Galvin in the 47th minute, following a minor brawl, but neither event changed the pattern of the game. What was most noteworthy about the remaining time was a freak goal scored by Aghabullogue's Sean ó Ceilleachair, which came when an attempted clearance bounced off his chest into the net.

*Tony O'Sullivan's refereeing was reasonably good, except at times he allowed fouls go unpunished and it irritated players.

Scorers: Finuge - P. Galvin 1-3; E. Breen 1-2; M. Corridan 0-3; M. Conway, E. Fitzmaurice, R. Thornton, J. Corridan and R. Galvin 0-1 each.

Aghabullogue: N. Buckley, P. O'Rourke and S. O Ceilleachair, 1-0 each; B. Kiely, P. Kelliher, C. Lucey and D. Kiely (free), 0-1 each.

Finuge: J. Coleman (capt.); E. Galvin, P. Corridan, M. Quilter; E. Breen, E. Fitzmaurice, M. Cronin; T. Mckenna, C. Galvin; M. Corridan, P. Galvin, R. Thornton; R. Galvin, J. Griffin, M. Conway. Subs: P. Lyons for Quilter (second half); J. Corridan for Thornton (36th minute); G. Lovett for Conway (47th).

Aghabullogue: D. Moynihan; D. Murphy, J. Spillane, S. Twomey; M. Twomey, D. Twomey, M. O'Brien; C. Lucey, N. Buckley; B. Kiely, P. Kelliher, E. Twomey; J. Hogan, D. Kiely, P. O'Rourke. Subs: S. O Ceilleachair for Buckley (41st minute); D. O'Leary for Hogan (53rd); T. O'Leary for O'Rourke (60th).

Referee: T. O'Sullivan (Waterford).

*Attendance: 1,085.

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