It’s difficult to say why this final was so disappointing. Both clubs had won the title five times between them since 1999, there were eight county senior players on view until Jerry O’Connor departed the scene in the 11th minute, yet the game never rose above mediocrity.
One can point to the tactics employed by both sets of selectors as a reason for the dreadful fare served up. Both opted to play with seven defenders, and seven backs were always going to be too good for five forwards.
But there’s no disputing the better team won and did so far more convincingly than the scoreline suggests.
There was little to choose between the sides and it was shaping up to whichever team got the all-important first goal, would go on to win. That goal fell to the champions and once Colm Coakley drilled the sliothar straight and through to the Newtown net in the 40th minute, there was only going to be one result.
Defensively Erin’s Own were again rock solid with the result that goalkeeper Shay Bowen didn’t have a shot to save as Paul Fenton, Pat Fitzgerald, Shane Murphy and Peter Kelly formed a ring of steel around him.
Cian O’Connor and Kieran Murphy when moved out, won the midfield exchanges, while in attack, Mark O’Connor was far more effective when he went to full forward, Eoghan Murphy’s excellent accuracy from placed balls earned him five points, while Michael Murphy and Colm Coakley can be pleased with their contributions.
Newtown will be bitterly disappointed at this latest set back. They went into the final as favourites having come through the tougher side of the draw, but on the day collapsed.
The loss of Jerry O’Connor after 11 minutes was a massive blow, but that doesn’t account for the very poor form of the rest of his team mates, and it begs the question, have we seen the best of this great Newtown side?
It would be hard to pick out any player on the Newtown side who was at his best. Pat Mulcahy, Ben O’Connor and Philip Noonan did all they could to get their side going but there was little response and they were a well-beaten side before O’Connor drilled home a goal from a 20 metre free with the second last puck of the game.
There was little to choose between the teams in the opening half during which they were level three times. There was a dreadful shortage of scores but Newtown led 0-4 to 0-3 after Shaun O’Riordan pointed in the 24th minute. However they were already beginning to struggle after losing O’Connor through the hamstring injury he carried into the game.
There was no improvement in standards on the change over, but Erin’s Own made two shrewd switches from which they benefited greatly. Kieran Murphy came out to midfield, and Mark O’Connor went to full forward and after the latter gave his side the lead with a second point, the defending champions made their push for victory with the game’s only goal.
In a splendid move the ball was played into Colm Coakley who had some work to do before he wriggled his way past his marker and drilling the sliothar straight and true. With the bit between the teeth, Eoghan Murphy pointed twice and with 15 minutes to go, they were sitting on a comfortable 1-8 to 0-5 lead and well in control.
Scorers for Erin’s Own: E. Murphy 0-5 (frees); C. Coakley 1-2; M. O’Connor 0-2; K. Murphy, S. Kelly 0-1 each.
Newtownshandrum: B. O’Connor 1-3 (frees); John O’Connor, C. Naughton, AT O’Brien, S. O’Riordan 0-1 each.
S. Bowen; P. Fenton, P. Fitzgerald, S. Murphy; S. Cronin, P. Kelly, B. Clifford; C. O’Connor, S. Kelly; M. O’Connor, K. Murphy, M. Murphy; E. Murphy, R. O’Carroll, C. Coakley.
Sub: I. Quinlan for O’Carroll.
O. Morrissey; J. O’Mahony, B. Mulcahy, D. Gleeson; PJ Copse, P. Mulcahy, P. Noonan; AT O’Brien, Jerry O’Connor; J. Bowles, B. O’Connor, JP King; C. Naughton, R. Clifford, John O’Connor.
Subs: S. O’Riordan for Jerry O’Connor; M. Bowles for John O’Connor; J. Herlihy for AT O’Brien; D. Mulcahy for King; G. O’Mahony for Clifford.
D. Kirwan (Eire Óg).