Draw match: Seir Kieran and Shamrocks must meet again in Offaly intermediate hurling championship final
Goalkeeper Joseph Connors is the toast of Clareen this evening as his most dramatic of last minute strikes earned Seir Kieran a replay against Shamrocks in the Offaly Intermediate Hurling Championship final.
Intermediate Hurling Championship Final
Seir Kieran 2-9
Trailing by three points with the four minutes of added time slipping away, Seir Kieran looked to be on their way home disappointed on Sunday afternoon.
Then a free was awarded just 21 metres from the Shamrocks goal and the slimmest chance of a reprieve was thrown their way.
A goal was the only option open to them unless the cup was to make its way to Rahan and Mucklagh.
But who would take the fateful free? Surely Barry Bergin, the in-form forward whose scores had almost singlehandedly kept Seir Kieran somewhat in contention during a second half where they were second best?
No, though he was in the vicinity of the placed ball as the O'Connor Park crowd waited, it was the burly figure of Joseph Connors who appeared on the scene.
After being told to place the ball a little further out, he unleashed a blistering shot which struck the inside of the left-hand post and ricocheted behind Shamrocks goalkeeper John Kinahan to the back of the net.
There was time for the puck-out and a melee involving players from both sides about 50 metres out from the Seir Kieran goal but while the 'one-in, all-in' dispute continued, referee Kieran Pat Kelly signalled the match was over.
With many in the ground unaware whether or not there was going to be extra-time, the PA announcement that a replay would be required, at a date and venue to be announced, was timely and it defused the tension.
Shamrocks will justifiably feel that this is one they let slip. They were 1-5 to 0-7 behind at the break but their greater physicality began to tell in the second half and a 33rd minute goal kicked by David O'Toole Greene (a reminder perhaps that this is a dual club attempting an elevation to a very high grade of hurling) put them two clear.
By the 37th minute they were four points clear thanks to two points from Nigel Dunne, one from play and another from a free, the latter after Shane Heffernan's rampaging run was halted by a chop down.
Remarkably, Shamrocks then had a chance to virtually sew up the result. David O'Toole Green fed Nigel Dunne out on the left and from a difficult angle he opted to shoot low and hard for the far corner of the net but saw the sliotar arrow wide of that back post.
That was a let-off for Seir Kieran who then kept in touch when Barry Bergin managed a score in the 45th minute, their first since a Tomas Connors goal in the 27th.
Loose marking at the back however allowed Shamrocks captain Conor Moran shoot over from 50 metres to make their lead four again with 24 minutes left, a deficit which grew to five when Shane Heffernan landed a thunderous score from under the stand.
That lead would have been near insurmountable but for three crucial Seir Kieran blockdowns as the Shamrocks attacked poured in and by the 56th minute Barry Bergin, by now on the half forward line having started in the corner, was on the mark twice more to make it 1-11 to 1-8.
Shamrocks had yet another goal opportunity in the 57th minute when Nigel Dunne and substitute Shane Kearney combined to find Shane O'Toole Greene but his shot netwards lacked power and Joseph Connors made the stop.
Barry Bergin pointed from play with less than two minutes of normal time left but the Shamrocks nerves were steadied a little when Shane O'Toole Greene made it 1-12 to 1-9 in the 62nd minute.
Then came the late, late show from Joseph Connors which will see the sides do it all again on another day.
The finalists were evenly matched in a first half dominated by a goal scored by Seir Kieran and two only narrowly missed by Shamrocks.
The score which edged the Clareen men 1-5 to 0-7 ahead at the interval arrived in the 27th minute when Johnny Corboy fed substitute Dylan Kennedy, barely on the pitch two minutes, and he played a short pass to Tomas Connors in a central position.
Connors sprinted straight goalwards and unleashed a strike to the roof of the net from about 25 yards out.
The Shamrocks goal opportunity had come in the 12th minute when David O'Toole Greene made a powerful run down the left wing and then cut in-field before locating Neil Minnock with a cross-field pass but his shot was saved by the outstretched hurley of the diving Joseph Connors.
Shane O'Toole Greene did hoover up the rebound but fired his shot wide. A second opportunity fell to him in the next passage of play and on this occasion his effort hit the crossbar.
A light, changeable breeze and pleasant sunshine greeted the teams as they took the pitch for the O'Connor Park throw-in with Shamrocks playing towards the Arden Road.
Seir Kieran were awarded a free from the throw-in ruck but Dermot Mooney's strike from half-way was fielded close to the goalline by Shamrocks goalkeeper John Kinahan.
However, the Rahan-Mucklagh defence could not control the clearance and Barry Bergin nipped in to register the game's first score.
Barry Bergin then scored a free in the third minute before a mistake in the Seir Kieran defence allowed Shane O'Toole Greene and Neil Minnock to exchange passes until Shane O'Toole Greene knocked over the first Shamrocks point.
A long range free from Barry Bergin made it 0-3 to 0-1 in the fifth minute and Padraig Cantwell kept Shamrocks ticking over before Bergin made it 0-4 to 0-2 for the black and amber.
Then came the Shamrocks goal attempts and though the scores were spurned, two Nigel Dunne frees tied up the contest with 20 minutes gone and then Dunne put his side in front for the first time, a lead which became two when Padraig Cantwell picked up an Alan Foster pass and raised a green flag.
By the 25th minute Seir Kieran's starting centre-forward Stephen Hynes, having been strapped up on the pitch a few minutes earlier, had to go off but the south Offaly side cut the gap to a point when Kevin Murray was on target with a beautiful sideline cut from the left flank.
The Tomas Connors goal came next but Neil Minnock's point for Shamrocks made it 1-5 to 0-7 with first half time almost up.
In stoppage time James Scully launched a point effort from nearly half-way and it was initially signalled on target by an umpire.
The referee consulted with a linesman under the stand and following further talks with the umpires the score was disallowed, a decision which ultimately resulted in the match ending all square.
SCORERS: Seir Kieran – Barry Bergin 0-7 (0-3 frees), Tomas Connors 1-0, Joseph Connors 1-0 (free), Dermot Mooney and Kevin Murray 0-1 each. Shamrocks – Nigel Dunne 0-5 (0-3 frees), David O'Toole Green 1-0, Shane O'Toole Green and Padraig Cantwell 0-2 each, Neil Minnock, Conor Moran and Shane Heffernan 0-1 each.
SEIR KIERAN: Joseph Connors; Packie Mulrooney, Brian Mulrooney, Nolie Bergin; Emmet Scully, Dermot Mooney, Shane Kinahan; James Scully, Kevin Murray (capt); Tomas Connors, Stephen Hynes, Sean Dooley; Johnny Corboy, Billy Connors, Barry Bergin. SUBS: Dylan Kennedy for Stephen Hynes, Declan Purcell for Billy Connors, Aidan Scully for Tomas Connors, Colm Coughlan for Johnny Corboy, Joe Gilligan for Shane Kinahan.
SHAMROCKS: John Kinahan; Sean Cantwell, Conor Condron, Sean Mooney; Jack Molloy, Padraig Cantwell, Stephen Malone; Conor Moran (capt), Alan Foster; Shane O'Toole Greene, Shane Heffernan, David O'Toole Greene; David Molloy, Nigel Dunne, Neil Minnock. SUB: Shane Kearney for Alan Foster.
REFEREE: Kieran Pat Kelly (St Rynagh's).
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