OFFALY SHC FINAL
KILCORMAC-KILLOUGHEY 3-26 SHINRONE 3-8
Kevin Egan at Grant Heating St. Brendan’s Park, Birr
They’ve been seen as the coming force in Offaly hurling for some time now, but Kilcormac-Killoughey announced their arrival loud and clear with a devastating performance at St. Brendan’s Park this afternoon, laying to rest the demons of three county final defeats since their last win six years ago.
The last of those defeats was 12 months ago at the hands of first-time winners Shinrone, when the ‘Double Ks’ got out to a fast start but failed to build on it, before losing their way in the second half. This afternoon they also blitzed Shinrone early on, knocking over five points in the first six minutes, but they never stopped from then on.
In every facet of play, Shane Hand’s side were dominant; crisp in their touch, abrasive and physical when they needed to be, and precise in their decision making and execution. County U-20 stars Adam Screeney and Charlie Mitchell lined out in the two corners but it was in the half-forward line in particular where they made hay early on, with former county senior star Conor Mahon at his imposing best at centre forward, while Jack Screeney also chipped in with some excellent points.
Damien Kilmartin’s physical power and Colin Spain’s relentless industry gave them a foothold at midfield, while Shinrone – under the tutelage of Roscrea native and former K-K player Trevor Fletcher – were starved of possession. Short puckouts were ravenously devoured, while they couldn’t find a way to win any of their own long restarts either, with Kilcormac-Killoughey in sensational form at half-back.
With five minutes to play before half-time the score was 0-12 to 0-5 and Shinrone were on life support, only still in the hunt because of a couple of excellent saves from goalkeeper Eamonn Cleary.
However that all changed in the last few minutes before half-time, when Kilcormac-Killoughey scored 1-5 and put themselves well and truly out of sight. Brecon Kavanagh won a turnover ball at the back and set up Cathal Kiely for a long clearance, and full forward James Gorman used his aerial ability and strength to hold off his man and field the ball on the edge of the small square, before sweeping it past Cleary from close range.
Screeney, Mitchell and Mahon all had points added within 90 seconds of that score, and not even the most ardent Shinrone fans would have felt that the 15-point interval lead was retrievable. What they mightn’t have imagined was that things would get much worse, as Kilcormac-Killoughey would continue in the same vein for the third quarter, pushing the lead out to 24 (3-22 to 0-7) by the 46th minute.
Charlie Mitchell scored the first goal with a slick finish and while the second was credited to Cathal Kiely, Mitchell was on the scene, causing consternation as Kiely’s long ball dropped onto the astroturf in the small square and ricocheted off post and crossbar before traversing the goal-line.
Dara Maher, who was unflinching in his persistence and defiance even as Kilcormac-Killoughey plundered scores, was rewarded for his spirit with two goals from late frees, while Jason Sampson also found the net as Shinrone avoided the ignominy of suffering a record margin county final defeat, but even as that was happening, Thomas Geraghty, Charlie Mitchell and Jack Screeney tagged on late scores to ensure that the newly-crowned Offaly champions will march into the Leinster club championship and a meeting with Naomh Éanna of Wexford in four weeks’ time with no small amount of momentum behind them.
Scorers for Kilcormac-Killoughey: Charlie Mitchell 1-4, Adam Screeney 0-7 (0-4f, 0-1 65), Conor Mahon 0-6, Cathal Kiely 1-1, Jack Screeney 0-3, James Gorman 1-0, Cillian Kiely 0-2f, Damien Kilmartin 0-1, Brecon Kavanagh 0-1, Thomas Geraghty 0-1.
Scorers for Shinrone: Dara Maher 2-1 (2-1f), Donal Morkan 0-3f, Jason Sampson 1-0, Declan Cleary 0-2, Killian Sampson 0-1, Luke Watkins 0-1.
KILCORMAC-KILLOUGHEY: Conor Slevin; Oisín Mahon, Brecon Kavanagh, Tom Spain; Jordan Quinn, Cillian Kiely, Enda Grogan; Colin Spain, Damien Kilmartin; Jack Screeney, Conor Mahon, Cathal Kiely; Adam Screeney, James Gorman, Charlie Mitchell.
Subs: Peter Geraghty for Gorman (44), Ger Healion for C Mahon (50), Thomas Geraghty for Cathal Kiely (52), Killian Leonard for J Screeney (58), Shane Guinan for Kilmartin (58).
SHINRONE: Eamonn Cleary; Darren Crean, Darren O’Meara, Darragh Landy; Michael Cleary, Conor Doughan, Dara Maher; Declan Cleary, Luke Watkins; Killian Sampson, Donal Morkan, Jason Sampson; Seán Cleary, Adrian Cleary, Paul Cleary.
Subs: Dan Doughan for D Cleary (41), Ciarán Cleary for P Cleary (41), Joe Cleary for Watkins (47), JP Cleary for Morkan (47), David Murray for S Cleary (53)
Referee: Brian Gavin (Clara).