Comfortable victory for Loughrea

Loughrea 1-11 Cushendall 0-9

Loughrea 1-11 Cushendall 0-9

Galway side Loughrea comfortably booked their passage through to an All-Ireland club hurling final, beating Ulster champions Cushendall 1-11 to 0-9 in Mullingar today.

Loughrea will face Ballyhale Shamrocks at Croke Park on St. Patrick's Day after their key player Johnny Maher shot over seven points.

It was certainly a positive victory for Loughrea but the game was certainly not as keen a contest as the first semi-final, 24 hours previously, with Loughrea always looking likely winners.

However it was Cushendall who started this game strongly with a point from centre-half back Karl McKeegan. But ultimately the Antrim side faded during the opening half as strong performances from Maher, midfielder Gavin Keary and corner-forward Kenneth Colleran helped Loughrea towards a 0-7 to 0-3 interval lead.

Cushendall's poor shooting cost them badly in the opening half with six missed chances, but their accuracy improved in the second period as Aidan Delargy reduced the gap to two points, three minutes after the restart.

However Cushendall fell into the trap of poor shooting once more as Loughrea capitalised but still the northern men remained in touch with no more than three points separating the sides for most of the third quarter.

A magnificent sideline cut from Maher was certainly the score of the afternoon although Cushendall continued to threaten.

With just three points between the sides with a minute remaining and the momentum with Cushendall, it looked as though the Antrim side might have a chance at victory. But a Vinny Maher goal on the stroke of full-time for Loughrea sealed the contest, despite a late point from Conor McCambridge.

LOUGHREA - N Murray; T Regan, D McClearn, D Melia; J Dooley, N Shaughnessy, G Kennedy; G Keary (0-1), B Mahony (0-1); E Coen, J Maher (0-7, 3f, 1 '65', 1 sl), V Maher (1-0); R Regan, J Loughlin, K Colleran (0-1).

Subs used: M Haverty (0-1) for E Coen, K Daniels for Regan.

CUSHENDALL - R Kearney; A Graffin, O Scullion, S Delargy; D McNaughton (0-1), K McKeegan (0-1), K Elliott; D McKillop, N McManus; B Delargy, M McCambridge, P McGill; A Delargy (0-3), C McCambridge (0-4, 2f, 1 '65'), S McNaughton.

Subs used: J Carson for D McKillop; E McKillop for B Delargy.

Referee: Barry Kelly (Westmeath)

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