Molloy Environmental Systems Offaly Senior Hurling Championship Final:
St Rynagh’s 2-16, Birr 1-15
St Rynagh’s ended a 23 year wait to reclaim the Sean Robbins Cup with a deserved victory over Birr in the Molloy Environmental Systems Offaly Senior Hurling Championship Final at O’Connor Park today.
Once the dominant force in Offaly hurling, St Rynagh’s captured the last of their 16 titles before today in 1993, and since then went home empty-handed from eight deciders, including last year and the year before
But all those defeats were wiped from the memory when they led from start to finish against Birr in front of 6,675 supporters.
Though they had the chances to build up an unassailable lead when backed with the wind in the first half, St Rynagh’s couldn’t fully relax until man-of-the-match Ronan Hynes fired to the net in the 58th minute, adding to the four points he had scored earlier.
Their first goal was slotted home, after some neat inter-passing, by Joey O’Connor in the 16th minute, and St Rynagh’s led by 1-8 to 0-5 at the interval. Free-takers Stephen Wynne and Stephen Quirke, along with Ronan Hughes, slotted over crucial points, although St Rynagh’s were wayward at times.
Meanwhile, Birr struggled to make an impact up front, with Eoghan Cahill (frees), Barry Harding and Emmet Nolan keeping them in touch.
St Rynagh’s quickly stretched their advantage to eight points after the resumption, but then Birr knuckled down and turned this final into a true contest. Their rally was sparked by a 33rd minute goal by Colm Mulrooney and some fabulous points were fired over by the likes of Emmet Nolan, Barry Whelahan and Sean Ryan.
The closest Birr came on the scoreboard was one point (1-14 to 1-13) in the 53rd minute, but St Rynagh’s kept their nerve and with some key points and Hughes’ goal, they held out for a famous victory.
ST RYNAGHS: Conor Clancy; Daniel Maloney, Dermott Shortt, Ben Conneely; Conor Hernon, Aidan Treacy, Pat Camon; Gary Kelly, Ronan Hughes (1-04); Sean Dolan, Gary Conneely (0-01), Stephen Wynne (0-06, 0-05 frees); Matthew Maloney, Stephen Quirke (0-03 frees), Joey O’Connor (1-02).
Subs: Niall Wynne for M Maloney (44), Ger Scales for Quirke (48), Paul Quirke for Dolan (60+1)
BIRR: Brian Mullins; Michael Verney, Paul Cleary, Eoin Hayes; Brian Watkins, Dylan Hayden, Sean Ryan (0-01); Barry Whelahan (0-01), Barry Harding (0-01); Colm Mulrooney (1-01), Eoghan Cahill (0-07, frees), Rory Hannify; Brendan Murphy (0-01), Conor O’Callaghan, Emmet Nolan (0-03).
Subs: Stephen Lonergan for O’Callaghan (41), Paddy Mullins for Whelahan (50), Dylan Watkins for Cahill (61)
Referee: Brian Gavin
Meanwhile, the Molloy Environmental Systems Minor Hurling Championship final was won, for the first time ever, by Ballinamere/ Durrow, who edged out Kilcormac/ Killoughey after an exciting contest by 1-13 to 0-15.
The Ballinamere/ Durrow team was managed by Offaly hurling legend Michael Duignan, and was captained by his son Sean.
And there was an extra treat for fans as the members Offaly squad, and the management, which won the county’s only National Hurling League title in 1991 were introduced as guests of honour between the two games.