Murphy guides Gort to glory

VICTORIOUS All-Ireland minor winning manager Matt Murphy rounded off a great year when he guided his club Gort to their sixth Galway SHC title with a deserved success in front of a crowd of almost 9,000 at Pearse Stadium yesterday.

Murphy was wing-forward — and club chairman! — when Gort won their last title in 1983 and half a dozen of that victorious squad saw their sons pick up county medals yesterday when they dethroned the All-Ireland club champions.

The heavy schedule seemed to take its toll on a weary Clarinbridge side who never got into their stride yesterday but yet were in contention right up to the end.

Indeed, it seemed the Galway final was heading for a replay for the second year in a row but Gort came with a late surge which saw captain Andy Coen edge them in front with a long-range free in stoppage time before Aidan Harte added another to seal the win.

Harte, whose father Josie was corner-back in ‘83, produced a man of the match performance. He was on the Galway senior squad this year but, for the second season in a row, a club has won the title without having a regular inter-county player on board.

Clarinbridge’s march to an historic All-Ireland crown earlier this year after winning only their second county title was marked by some remarkable recovery missions and it was apparent they were going to need something special again after falling 0-6 to 0-1 behind after 12 minutes.

Gort did all the early hurling in a game played in perfect conditions at the Salthill venue, with Gerry Quinn hitting four points, three of them frees, after Sean Forde had found the target in just 30 seconds for a fired-up Gort side.

Harte got the first of his five points and when Shane Burke added to Mark Kerins’ opening free for the champions, Gort again pushed on with Quinn and veteran Ollie Fahy hitting points for them to lead by 0-8 to 0-2 after 21 minutes.

The Clarinbridge attack was making little headway against a solid Gort defence but Kerins kept the holders in touch with a brace of frees before Harte got his second point.

However, Clarinbridge finished the half strongly and trailed by 0-9 to 0-6 at the break after Kerins landed a 65 and then a free from close range.

Quinn and Kerins exchanged points after the restart but, crucially, Gort pushed on with Gerard O’Donoghue and Quinn finding the target to open up a 0-12 to 0-7 lead after 36 minutes.

Gort struggled to kill off the Clarinbridge challenge and two points from play from Alan Kerins suddenly left just a goal between them going into the final quarter.

And then Clarinbridge struck for the equaliser. An Eoin Forde effort from long range looked to be going over the bar but Gort goalkeeper Peter Cummins managed to get his hurley to it but the ball dropped in front of goal and the inrushing Billy Lane finished it to the net to level the match at 1-11 to 0-14.

Clarinbridge had a chance to go in front for the first time directly afterwards but Kerins missed his first free of the day, while Richie Cummins did likewise at the other end for Gort.

Clarinbridge, who were reduced to 14 men when Eoin Forde picked up a second yellow card after 50 minutes, must have big hopes of retaining their crown when Stephen Forde edged them in front with four minutes remaining.

However, Gort maintained their composure. Harte levelled with a free a minute from the end of normal time and then skipper Coen edged them in front with a free from 70 yards before Harte made the game save with his fifth point in the dying moments.

Scorers for Gort: G Quinn 0-7 (6fs), A Harte 0-5 (2fs), G O’Donoghue 0-2, O Fahy, S Forde, A Coen (f) 0-1 each.

Scorers for Clarinbridge: M Kerins 0-7 (6fs, 1 65), B Lane 1-0, A Kerins, S Burke 0-2 each, S Forde 0-1.

GORT: P Cummins; M Cummins, M McMahon, A Coen; G Lally, B Regan, J Grealish; S Og Linnane; S Forde; G Quinn, A Harte, P Killilea; R Cummins, O Fahy, G O’Donoghue.

Subs: M Nestor for Quinn (44), A Mullins for Forde (54), K Finnegan for P Cummins (54).

CLARINBRIDGE: L Donoghue; B Burke, C Forde, P Callanan; J Cannon, D Forde, M Donoghue; B Daly, S Burke; S Forde, M Kerins, E Murphy; E Forde, A Kerins; P Coen.

Sub: B Lane for Murphy (30).

Referee: A Kelly (Rahoon-Newcastle).

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