Shamrocks going for four in a row, O’Loughlins going for their first title since 2016. Something had to give, will the Tom Walsh trophy be going out to the countryside or remain in the city?
Andy Comerford spoke after the Tullaroan victory about how his team has no big stars but they are tireless and resilient. Contrast that to the likes of Joey Holden going for his sixth county final medal with others like TJ Reid going were going for ten with the Shamrocks. How would Huw Lawlor fair against TJ?
TJ opened the scoring from a 65 after Shamrocks scuppered a goal scoring chance. Mark Bergin almost immediately replied but earned a 65 after 2 minutes. A very reliable free taker, however mishit it which ended up beging a dangerous ball. O’Loughlins had a goal scoring chance but the ball hit Dean Mason resulting in another 65 which Bergin converted to draw the game
O’Loughlins were fighting tirelessly, constantly upping the intensity and winning the puck out battles. Conor Heary from his favourite position at left half back put O’Loughlins in the lead, a reward for all their hard work. Robbie Buckley then could of taken the easy point but carried it through to provide Owen Wall with a goal scoring chance and boom, O’Loughlins extended their lead by three points after blasting the ball into the back of the net
Paddy Deegan put it over the bar extending the lead even more with Shamrocks not being allowed to get into their normal flow, everything just seemed to be going right for the Gaels. Off his left Adrien Mullen put it over the bar calmly to keep the Shamrocks in the tie after not scoring for some time. Joey Cuddihy then added to the points to make it 1-3 to 0-04 points after 13 minutes. Mark Bergin was next to reply and put the ball over the bar to stop the Shamrocks ascending.
A metre from the sideline and 50 metres from the posts, TJ Reid had a chance to make it a two point game coming into the waterbreak. As was to be expected despite the difficult position was duly converted by the talisman.
Is Brian Cody playing Paddy Deegan in the wrong position was asked, because Deegan drew first blood when the game recommenced after the first waterbreak extending their lead by three points.
Andy Comerfords men looked to be hunting in packs leaving the Shamrocks shell shocked.
TJ Reid replied from a dubious free given to keep the game from getting away from his side. Paddy Deegan though once again provided Owen Wall who put it over the bar to make the game 1-06 to 0-06. Richie Reid replied with a good score coming from TJ Reid dropping deep to win the ball.
For all the good play from O’Loughlins, the game was still in touching distance. Ronan Corcoran grabbed the next made it a point. Deegan was giving Brian Butler a run around and provided the next point for the Gaels. Mark Bergin further extending the lead after 24 minutes, which was followed by a TJ Reid free.
Shamrocks looked in bother, losing all the 50/50 balls, particularly in the half back line. They would also be concerned with Joey Holden has been dragged out the field.
Heary put his name on the score-sheet once again and possibly his name on an inter-county team sheet with a tremendous point to separate the sides by that earlier Owen Wall goal. Bergin kept asking the questions of Shamrocks grabbing the final two points of the half for the gales. Tj Reid and Darragh Corcoran brought it back to a 3 point game at to make it 1-11 to 0-11 points as we approached half time.
A well taken goal was the difference when the ref blew the whistle but the question at half time was how much did the first half take out of O’Loughlins and can Shamrocks find a next gear?
O’Loughlins were the first back out on the field, possibley indicating Comerfords contenment with his side, while Shamrocks manager James O’Connor kept going over tactics with his side when they came out.
TJ Reid stood out naturally due to his experience and looked to set a statement by scoring the first point of the half. However uncharacteristically the side immediately followed that up with two wides forcing a change to the Shamrocks half forward line with TJ Reid dropping a bit deeper.
Jack Nolan did well marking Brian Cody all game earning a free for Mark Bergin to convert.
Heary gave it to Cian Loy to have the opportunity for a massive score which they failed to convert . Shamrocks decided now was the time to punish them, Richie to TJ to Colin, Colin shot, the ball fell to Joe Cuddihy who incredibly leveled. A sick one two punch though followed when Adrien Mullen from a line ball buried it in the back of the net for the second time in a minute, just like that the game has completely turned on its head. How would O’Loughlins respond after those hamerblows?.
O’Loughlins were not going to drop their head though as Eoin O’Shea proved the game was in no way over and responded with a point. Eoin Cody went on a fantastic run, charging at the goal and striked the ball low which resulted in a fantastic save from Stephen Murphy.
All was not over for O’Loughlins as Paddy Deegan was the next to put the ball in the back of the net to level the game, with this writer barely being able to keep up with the action. Eoin Wall followed that up with a point to put the city club in the driving seat at 2-14 to 2-13 as the last waterbreak was blown for.
Everything was to play for, this is what hurling is all about!
Shamrocks drew the game but Paddy Butler went through and looked like scoring certain goal before it was saved on the line by Joey Holden. TJ Reid then went down the other end to take the lead. Brian Cody and Eoin Reid grabbed some wonder scores and put the country side up by three Richie to TJ to Colin, Colin shot, Joe Cuddihy rebound. TJ put another free over leaving O’Loughlins wondering how they are now four points behind. Ronan Corcoran who had played magnificently stretched the game by five points.
Brian Butler was questioned all day with Paddy Deegan causing huge trouble all day. An unbelievable goal, possibly the greatest goals in a county final ever, with Butler soloing 60 yards before bursting the ball passed Stephen Murphy. A third goal and what looked to be a proper nail in the coffin of O’Loughlins championship dream. It was a true exhibition in those ten minutes where the Shamrocks truly finding their next gear after the waterbreak.
Any chance of a comeback looked dashed when Dean Mason saved a penalty taken by Paddy Deegan. Deegan made up for it with a bullet into the net, however it seemed too little to late.
The misery was compounded for O’Loughlins when Danny Loughnane who came on as a substitute though was sent off for O’Loughlins for the remaining three minutes, no doubt frustrated by what just occurred in that final waterbreak.
The ref blew the whistle and all though Shamrocks were deservedly crowned champions the real winners here was Kilkenny hurling. That is why we love this sport, fight, hunger and determination. That is what hurling is all about! Shamrocks secure their fourth title in a row with a victory over O’Loughlin Gaels on a scoreline of 3-15 to 3-19
Congratulations to the Shamrocks, cosmiserations to O’Loughlin Gaels. Shamrocks will now go onto play the Carlow Senior Hurling Champions in the form of Mount Leinster Rangers in two weeks time.
KCLR Man of the match : TJ Reid