Kilcormac/Killoughey 1-12 Oulart-the-Ballagh 0-11
Joy unconfined for Kilcormac/Killoughey yesterday in Nowlan Park as the Offaly men won their first ever Leinster Club SHC title, giving a gritty display in testing conditions to edge out Wexford side Oulart-the-Ballagh.
Spare a thought for Oulart this morning though. Yesterday was their third Leinster club final defeat in three years and the desolation etched on their faces as they awaited yesterday’s presentation was graphic evidence of the toll those defeats have taken.
History is written by the winners, however: during the week Kilcormac/Killoughey sources had expressed a quiet confidence and their side settled quickly and played to their strengths all through — this game was heading their way long before the final whistle.
That good start was crucial to the Offaly side. Though the impressive Rory Jacob had a first-minute point for Oulart, from the puck-out Kilcormac/Killoughey got the only goal of the game.
Oulart’s experienced defender Keith Rossiter had a chance to clear near his own goal but James Gorman blocked him well and popped the ball to Dan Currams, who finished emphatically to the net.
Conor O’Leary responded for Oulart and Jacob showed a fine first touch to add another point, but Kilcormac/Killoughey’s physical strength down the middle of the field began to tell then. Gorman added another point and before the first quarter ended Ciarán Slevin (free) and Peter Geraghty, from distance, also chipped in with points.
Nicky Kirwan pointed a free in response, making it 1-3 to 0-4 on 16 minutes, but Kilcormac/Killoughey were the dominant side. Kevin Grogan and Brian Leonard at wing-back were particularly effective, and Oulart’s withdrawal of a midfielder long before half-time was evidence of the Offaly men’s strength that area.
Slevin (free) and Gorman had points to stretch the Kilcormac/Killoughey lead before Kirwan replied with another free with five minutes to the break: 1-5 to 0-5. Both sides managed two more points before half-time, a long-range effort from Damien Kilmartin and another point from Geraghty for the Offaly side, and for Oulart yet another Kirwan free and the best point of the game; a team effort involving at least four points finished off by Darren Nolan.
That left just Currams’ goal between the sides at the break, 1-7 to 0-7, and it got better for Kilcormac/Killoughey after the break. Within 10 minutes keeper Conor Slevin produced two top-class saves to deny Oulart, who were getting very little change from a powerful opposing defence.
The sides swapped points through Gorman and Kirwan (free) before the Offaly men began to take control. Brian Leonard and Ciarán Slevin (free) stretched their lead to five, 1-10 to 0-8 before Oulart rallied with three points on the trot.
Kirwan (two frees) and a good David Redmond effort from play left two in it entering the final 10 minutes, but Kilcormac/Killoughey weren’t going to be denied. Dan Currams, whose gashed forehead meant he missed most of the first-half after scoring the game’s only goal, thundered into the proceedings as the game wound down.
Currams not only hit two fine points but led by example when Oulart had the ball in defence, bottling up their defenders and stopping their efforts to build from the back. When Oulart were able to get the ball to their forwards, big men like the Healion brothers held the centre well and never allowed the Wexford champions in for the goal that might have changed everything.
After the game, officials had a job getting the Kilcormac/Killoughey men up to accept the cup, they were having such a good time with their followers out on the field. Eventually they came up, and their Rock Me Like A Wagon Wheel anthem got a brief airing.
What odds of another rendition next March in Croke Park?
KILCORMAC KILLOUGHEY: C Slevin; J Grogan, G Healion, A McConville; K Grogan, P Healion, B Leonard; D Kilmartin, K Leonard; C Slevin (c), C Mahon; P Geraghty; J Gorman, D Currams, T Geraghty.
OULART-THE-BALLAGH: B O’Connor; B Kehoe, K Rossiter (c), D Morton; E Moore, D Stamp, L Prendergast; D Redmond, S Murphy; G Sinnott, P Roche, D Nolan; N Kirwan, C O’Leary, R Jacob.
Scorers for Kilcormac Killoughey: D Currams 1-2, J Gorman, C Slevin (fs) 0-3 each, P Geraghty 0-2, D Kilmartin, B Leonard 0-1 each.
Scorers for Oulart-the-Ballagh: N Kirwan 0-6fs, R Jacob 0-2, C O’Leary, D Nolan, D Redmond 0-1 each.
Subs for Kilcormac Killoughey: T Fletcher for Currams (blood, 12 to ht), J Geraghty for Leonard (59).
Subs for Oulart-the-Ballagh: F Cullen for S Murphy (20), P Murphy for P Roche (40), A Kavanagh for O’Leary (52).
Referee: Sean Cleere (Kilkenny).
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