BROSNA Gaels are the Offaly intermediate hurling champions! They conquered Birr with a four point win on Sunday to complete their meteoric rise from Junior 'B' ranks in just four years and can now look forward to playing senior club hurling in 2010.
Aidan Bracken Building Design IHC Final
Brosna Gaels 2-15
Brosna Gaels: Des Egan (0-6, 0-5 frees), Jason Devery (1-1), Fergal Daly (0-4), Declan Rohan (1-0), Richard Fox (0-3), Alan Lynam (0-1).
Birr: Aaron Whelahan (1-5, 0-4 frees), Michael Mulrooney (0-2), Brendan Murphy (0-2), Michael Cleere (0-2), Ger Teehan (0-1), Thomas Bolger (0-1), Mark Mulrooney (0-1).
Brosna Gaels 8 (6 1st half), Birr 8 (5 1st half).
They were full value for this win too. Their workrate was tremendous as they fought for every ball. No cause was a lost cause and even players lying on the ground stretched every sinew in a bid to effect a tackle and deny Birr clean possession.
It would be most unfair, and indeed inaccurate, to pigeon-hole Brosna Gaels as a stereotypical football team play 'having a go' at playing hurling.
While they were physically stronger, they used that physique well, and their tackling was clean and accurate. No-one epitomised this more than centre back Kevin Lynam, who blocked off the centre immensely, covered smartly and cleared regularly.
Lynam was well assisted in defence by Thomas Spain, also a line-ball specialist, and by full back Glen Halligan who let nothing past.
Some of their ball-play was impeccable, and they endeavoured to keep the ball moving at all times. Full forward Kevin Daly was a regular target, and he was the recipient of some good, direct, low ball from which he scored four points from play. He also drew some frees which led to further points and his good work led to his side's first goal.
Their support of the player in possession was excellent too, and rarely was a man left isolated to be caught in possession.
Brosna Gaels hit the ground running and let 0-6 to 0-4 at the end of the first quarter. Aaron Whelahan opened the scoring when he picked up a short clearance and pointed, but Fergal Daly was held and when the resultant free was moved forward for dissent, Des Egan opened his account.
Michael Mulrooney restored the Birr lead, collecting a good Mark Quinlan ball, but again Fergal Daly caused the Birr defence some bother and gained another free when pulled down as he raced along the endline.
Egan again scoring from the free. Fergal Daly gave Gaels the lead for the first time with a fine effort over his left shoulder though Ger Teehan levelled matters a minute later.
Des Egan pointed a free for the lead and then scored a super point after effecting a fine block on a defender. Egan again supplied the ball to Fergal Daly to turn and score for a 6-3 lead.
Midfielder Brendan Murphy kept Birr in touch with a fine point, though the nippy Alan Lynam restored Gaels' three point lead, only for Michael Mulrooney to point for Birr, again from a Quinlan cross.
As the first half drew to a close Michael Cleere pointed after a fine run to reduce the gap to the minimum and full back Glen Halligan was forced to make a vital interception in the square when a Birr goal seemed on. Richard Fox completed the first half scoring with a good point for a 0-8 to 0-6 lead.
Birr introduced substitute Thomas Bolger at half time and his impact was immediate. He was instantly fouled for Aaron Whelahan to point the free and when Whelahan fired a fine goal to the net from outside the '21' a minute later things looked much brighter for Birr as they led 1-7 to 0-9.
Brosna Gaels countered, introducing Jeffrey Cuskelly to the defence to shadow Bolger, and this had the desired effect as Cuskelly made a major contribution.
Fergal Daly steadied the ship with a point, and then came a three minute spell which yielded two goals for the Gaels to change the match in their favour.
Not for the first time Fergal Daly raided along the endline and his astute handpass picked put Declan Rohan who had taken up a good position, to fire to the net.
Des Egan dropped in a free which might have yielded another goal but a 'scrum' on the goalline resulted in a throw-in. The second goal did come though, when Egan again dropped in a long range free which broke for Jason Devery to slam the loose ball to the net.
Leading now, 2-9 to 1-7, an Aaron Whelahan free reduced the deficit, but further points in a five minute spell from Richard Fox, Des Egan (free) and a mighty one from Fergal Daly gave Gaels a commanding 2-12 to 1-8 lead.
Thomas Bolger interrupted the flow with a point having been placed by Mark Quinlan, Bolger now the only Birr forward to make any headway, with centre back Barry Ryan leading the defence with some fine Whelahan-esque strokeplay.
The Gaels were rampant now though and two points in a minute extended the lead. Richard Fox again leading by example with a point and then a mighty one from sixty metres by Jason Devery seemingly put then in the driving seat, now leading 2-14 to 1-9.
Birr hit back with three points in a minute. The first a seemingly fortuitous one when Aaron Whelahan's shot dropped short and sub Mark Mulrooney got a hurl to it to send the ball over the bar when he looked to be in the square. Brendan Murphy and Michael Cleere followed up with points and with Birr's deficit now five points it was 'game on' again.
Birr were now in the ascendancy as their half back line asserted their dominance and with Thomas Bolger, Brendan Murphy and Michael Mulrooney now a real threat in attack, as Aaron Whelahan pointed another free to reduce the deficit to four.
The Gaels needed a score to kill the Birr momentum and they got a free-in when Fergal Daly was held, but Egan inexplicably missed the free and when Aaron Whelahan pointed a free at the other end the pressure was really on. Only a goal in it and Birr coming in waves, Mark Quinlan and Michael Cleere being most prominent in attack.
With time almost up Declan Rohan was fouled forty metres out and this time Egan made no mistake for the insurance point which ensured a heartwarming win for Brosna Gaels.
BROSNA GAELS: Ger Spain; Stephen Keena, Glen Halligan, Trevor Phelan; Thomas Spain, Kevin Lynam, Karl Daly; Des Egan, Sean Hackett; Richard Fox (capt.), Alec Mooney, Jason Devery; Declan Rohan, Fergal Daly, Alan Lynam.
Subs: Jeffrey Cuskelly for S Keena (33 mins), John Egan for A Mooney (42 mins), Paul Kelly for D Rohan (60 mins).
BIRR: Richie Donnelly, Gary O'Meara, Garech Doorley, John McIntyre; Clifford Colohan, Barry Ryan (capt.), Paddy Ryan; Aaron Whelahan, Brendan Murphy; Mark Quinlan, Michael Cleere, Cormac Pardy; Ger Teehan, Liam Power, Michael Mulrooney.
Subs: Thomas Bolger for C Pardy (half time), Mark Mulrooney for L Power (42 mins).
REREFEE: Martin Kirwan, Ballyskenagh.