Adare, the three in-a-row champions of 2007-2009, when the game came down to the wire, had the old battle-hardened dogs and proved too wise for the young pups from Doon, three unanswered points in the closing three minutes proving the difference.
Another final then for the men from the west, a chance to atone for last year’s one-goal loss to Kilmallock, but rest assured, one of these years those youngsters from the east will have their day in the sun.
Playing with the aid of the strong downfield wind, Doon took command early on, led by seven points after 13 minutes, 1-7 to 0-3. It could have been and would have been more had full-forward Michael Ryan managed to keep down a shot from point-blank range that just skimmed over the cross-bar.
The goal had come in the sixth minute, corner-forward Pat Ryan fastest to react to the rebound off the post of a Patrick Cummins point effort, while wing-forward Roger Ryan had three of those seven points.
Adare were struggling but in the 15th minute came the boost they needed, a well-taken goal by flying corner-forward Willie Griffin after outstanding work by the hard-working Diarmuid Sexton. Lifted by this score, Adare had come within two of Doon (1-8 to 1-6) by the 21st minute and it was beginning to look ominous for the youngsters.
A second Doon goal though, this one by Michael Ryan after he far too easily rounded full-back John Paul Healy, was followed by a point from the same player to restore their earlier seven-point lead. But with half-time looming, Adare responded once again.
Limerick county star Declan Hannon, spending most of his time on the 40, was scorer-in-chief for the old champions with six superb points into the teeth of the wind, including a classy sideline cut. Two points from Declan, one from hard-running veteran Donncha Sheehan, against a late Michael Fitzgerald point for Doon, left it a five-point game at the break, 2-11 to 1-9, Adare behind but now turning with the wind in their sails.
It took them until halfway through the second period to gain parity, and it took another goal to do so, but what a beauty it was. A huge clearance from dominant centre-back Wayne McNamara, lovely control by Hannon, nice turn of pace to break clear of the defence, emphatic finish, and the game was tied at 2-13 apiece (48th minute).
Time now, surely, for Adare to drive on but no; the Doon defence battened down the hatches, soaked up the pressure as ball after ball rained down and in fact as the game entered the closing minutes, it was they, not Adare, who chiselled out a lead. Points from Michael Ryan and Michael Fitzgerald, sandwiched around a lone Diarmuid Sexton point for Adare, had Doon ahead by a point in the 59th minute (2-15 to 2-14), their supporters in the covered stand cheering them to the rafters as they fought to make their first final since 2000.
It wasn’t to be, however. Holding their nerve, it was Adare with the strong finish, points from midfielder John Fitzgibbon (one) and the irrepressible Willie Griffin (two) seeing them home. Sweet win for Adare, bitter disappointment for Doon but they can’t complain, nor should they.
They did their best but met a slightly better outfit on the day. Fine final now in prospect.
Scorers for Adare: D Hannon (1-9, 5 frees, one s/l), W Griffin (1-3), J Fitzgibbon (0-2), D Sexton, C Fitzgerald, D Sheehan (0-1 each).
Scorers for Doon: M Ryan (1-4, 2 frees), P Cummins 0-4, P Ryan (1-0), R Ryan (0-3), M Fitzgerald (0-2), C McNamara 0-2 (0-2f).
ADARE: S O’Donoghue; D Dillon, JP Healy, S Lavin; R Kennedy, W McNamara, G Ahern; J Hannon, J Fitzgibbon; C Fitzgerald, D Hannon, D Sexton; D Sheehan, P Keane, W Griffin.
Subs: A O’Connell for Sheehan (inj. 32).
DOON: D Stapleton; S Barry, M Crowe, E Fitzgerald; D Moloney, C McNamara, R English; N Maher, D O’Donovan; M Fitzgerald (c), G Allis, R Ryan; P Cummins, M Ryan, P Ryan.
Subs: L Ryan for Barry (54); M Barry for P Ryan (56).
Referee: R Moloney (Bruff).