FOR the first occasion since 1988, four-time All-Ireland club champions Birr won’t be involved in the Offaly SHC semi-finals, after they were defeated 0-11 to 0-10 by reigning champions Tullamore at O’Connor Park on Saturday.
Shane Dooley was once again in magnificent form, grabbing eight points, thereby increasing his six-game championship total to 6-47.
Birr, with Simon Whelahan, Gary Hanniffy, Thomas Bolger and Bryan Lonergan supplying the scores, led 0-7 to 0-5 at the interval after playing with the wind. With Stephen Egan, Brendan Dagg and Mark Conlon shining in defence, Tullamore, without the suspended Kevin Martin and injured full back Cillian Bane, got a stranglehold on proceedings.
Edwin Finnerty’s 56th minute point tied matters at 0-9 apiece and when Sean Ryan edged Birr back in front, it looked like the champions of 2005–08 were going to avenge their semi-final loss at Tullamore’s hands a year ago.
But deep in injury time Shane Dooley, just as he did for Offaly against Antrim and Galway in the Leinster Championship, brilliantly slotted over an equalising pressure free from midway.
Birr failed to win possession from Brian Mullins’ puck-out and when the sliotar reached Francis Kerrigan, he arrowed the winning point.
Tullamore will meet Johnny Pilkington-managed Kilcormac/Killoughey in the semi-final, a repeat of the 2009 final.
K/K defeated Seir Kieran by 1-14 to 1-11 in the opening quarter-final at O’Connor Park. They led 1-6 to 0-5 at half-time with the goal coming from James Gorman in the 12th minute. Ciaran Slevin was the winners’ top scorer, chalking up 0-6 and Joe Bergin did likewise for Seir Kieran, bringing his championship total to 0-55.
James Mulrooney did net a late goal for Seir Kieran but it wasn’t enough to halt K/K&.
The second semi-final will see Ken Hogan’s Coolderry clash with Joe Tynan’s Kinnitty charges. Tynan was Coolderry boss in 2004 when they last captured the title.
Coolderry were 2-18 to 0-16 winners over Shinrone yesterday in Rath, with Damien Murray in great scoring form, hitting 1-11.
Colm Coughlan, son of 1981 and 1985 All-Ireland medal winner Ger, grabbed 2-5 as Kinnitty overcame St Rynagh’s by 4-8 to 2-12 in the last of the quarter finals. Fearghal Kealey and Christopher Leonard also netted goals for Kinnitty. Brosna Gaels and Belmont will contest the relegation final after they lost to Shamrocks and Lusmagh respectively.
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