O'Loughlin Gaels 2-14 to 3-10 Dunamaggin
Venue - Thomastown, May 8th at 7pm Referee Kieran Canavan
The Thomastown venue was resplended in the sunshine and drew a good crowd to witness this nail biting encounter between the top two teams in this years league. From the throw in it was clear these two teams meant business. It was too nice an evening to waste and these lads were here for hurling. By the 4th minute we had goals at either end, a fantastic diving save from 'Gaels keeper Declan Murphy at one end, and en effort deflected off the upright at the other end - a frenetic start that had the crowd salivating. Dunnamaggin struck first with a dropping ball bouncing unfavourably in the sunshine to raise the green flag. Immediately O'Loughlins hit back through the sheer power of, and determination of Ethan Kerwick who gathered and drove his way to the 6 yard marker before rifling it to the net. Game on!.
Centre forward Conor Kelly was flawless all evening and started his tally with a 5th minute free that was countered soon after by Dunnamaggin's midfielder Alex Moore. Two more points were traded before Oloughlins hit a purple patch that yielded three unanswered points (2 from Conor Kelly and 1 by Vinny O'Grady) - a difference that they would hold at the break. Dunnamaggin would go ahead again though returning a pointed free and then a goal from their no. 11 Conor Brett when the ball fell nicely to him as the O'Loughlin Gaels defence failed to clear after aother Declan Murphy wonderful diving save. Conor Kelly took the 'Gaels ahead again with another point and Dunnamaggin followed with a converted free to level matters once more. Over twenty minutes gone and the crowd were enjoying every minute of this. O'Loughlin Gaels' second goal was something special. Jack Sheridan dashed around the half forward line to pick up a breaking ball. He made a few yards and looked to lose control but his determination made sure he won it back immediately and now had nothing on his mind from then only goal. His winding run ended with a sweet strike off his left that stretched the keeper to a great save but like any good full -forward Vinccent O'Grady was in the right position to whip the parry to the net. Three points clear again and after both centre forwards traded points, O'Loughlins deservedly went to the break 2-8 to 2-5 in front.
The score stood at 2-10 for the Gaels to 3-10 for Dunnamaggin with less than 5 minutes remaining. The Gaels looked dead on thier feet - Ben Tyrrell was immense all evening and left every ounce of energy he had on the field. He still kept a little in reserve to see out the game as he defended stoicly. Jamie Young came up trumps when needed most as too did David Fogarty in defence. Daniel Walsh had done his job and Mathew Hogan came in with fresh legs along wiht Charlie Maher. Ian O'Keefe made a telling contribution in the corner while Captain Declan Coffey and mid-field partner Niall Higgins had a lot to do in the centre of the field. With four minutes on the clock it needed a moment of magic - queue Ronan Lavelle. The corner forward had dropped back to help out and gathered a ball on the 45 yard line...a solo on the touch line into the corner and a strike as sweet as you'll see guided the sliotar over the bar. The team stirred and every one to a man dug deep. The workrate earned two frees duly coverted by the deadball expert Conor Kelly. It was all square and the time was now at the descretion of the referee. There was time however and when Conor Kelly recieved the sliotar on the right wing there was only one place that ball was going. The resulting white flag was soon followed by the final whistle and O'Loughlin Gaels were League Champions for 2017.
Fair play to both teams who conttributed to a right old rattle that entertained all present. O'Loughlin Gaels Captain recieved the league trophy from Willie Dempsey and thanked Dunnammaggin for a great game and reminded everybody that they'd be meeting again in August in the first round of the championship. Now that's a mouth watering prospect!!
Well done to all the panel and to Team Mentors, NIall Bergin, Ben Fogarty, Benny Cleere, Paddy Tyrrell and Sean McNamara. Lovely Hurling.
O'Loughlin Gaels: D. Murphy, D. Walsh, J. Young, I. O'Keefe, P.McNamara, D. Fogarty, B. Tyrrell, D. Coffey (Capt.), N. Higgins, J. McNamara, C. Kelly (0-12, 6f), J. Sheridan, E. Kerwick (1-0), V. O'Grady (1-1), R. Lavelle (0-1).
H. Bland, M. Hogan, D. O'Leary, J. Leydon, J. Hickey, C. Murphy, C. Maher, N. Flanagan, L. Hehir, J. Byrne, J. Phelan, W. Slattery, L. Hennessey, M. Wallace.