St Rynagh’s 2-16 Birr 1-15: After drawing two and losing eight finals since last lifting the Seán Robbins cup in 1993, St Rynagh’s finally returned to the top of the pile in Offaly yesterday afternoon.
They survived a second-half fightback from Birr to edge past their longstanding rivals by four points in the county final at O’Connor Park in Tullamore.
Some 6,675 supporters filed into the county ground for this encounter and many of them might have wondered if a repeat of last year’s smash and grab win for Coolderry over Rynagh’s was on the cards when wind-assisted Birr came from eight points down to trail by just one after 52 minutes.
There was a late goal still to come, but it was struck by man of the match Ronan Hughes, who rounded off his personal tally of 1-4 with the game’s decisive goal on the cusp of full-time.
“A few things have been said about this team over the past couple of years and if we’re being honest, until they answered that, they weren’t going to be worthy champions,” said Rynagh’s manager Francis Forde afterwards.
“But they can say that they are worthy champions now after the way they had to battle to get it done.”
The victors led by 1-8 to 0-5 at half-time, their goal coming from Joey O’Connor, but 12 first-half wides meant that they hadn’t capitalised on the wind as much as they should have.
Two points at the start of the second half stretched that lead but Colm Mulrooney’s close-range goal after 34 minutes changed the momentum of the tie and Birr picked off some sublime scores to reel in their opponents, before succumbing to late points from O’Connor and Gary Conneely, and the clinching goal from Hughes.
Scorers for St Rynaghs:
R Hughes (1-4); S Wynne (0-6, 5 frees); J O’Connor (1-2); S Quirke (0-3 frees); G Conneely (0-1)
Scorers for Birr:
E Cahill (0-7 frees); C Mulrooney (1-1); E Nolan (0-3); B Harding, B Murphy, B Whelahan, S Ryan (0-1 each)
C Clancy; D Maloney, D Shortt, B Conneely; C Hernon, A Treacy, P Camon; G Kelly, R Hughes; S Dolan, G Conneely, S Wynne; M Maloney, S Quirke, J O’Connor.
N Wynne for M Maloney (44), G Scales for Quirke (48), P Quirke for Dolan (60+1)
B Mullins; M Verney, P Cleary, E Hayes; B Watkins, D Hayden, S Ryan; B Whelahan, B Harding; C Mulrooney, E Cahill, R Hannify; B Murphy, C O’Callaghan, E Nolan.
S Lonergan for O’Callaghan (41), P Mullins for Whelahan (20), D Watkins for Cahill (31) Referee: B Gavin
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