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30 Sept 2022

Incredible drama in first semi-final of Offaly Senior Hurling Championship as late goals decide game

Shinrone snatch dramatic victory with injury time goal to break Belmont hearts

Jason Sampson's late goal sent Shinrone into their first Offaly senior hurling final since 1960.

A GOAL six minutes into injury time sent Shinrone into the Offaly Senior Hurling final for the first time in 62 years after the first of the championship semi-finals finished in the most dramatic of fashions at St Brendan's Park, Birr on Saturday.

Molloy Environmental Systems Senior Hurling Semi-Final

SHINRONE 2-18
BELMONT 0-23

Belmont were never behind in the game until that moment deep into stoppage time when Jason Sampson's shot from 45m spun off the stick of goalkeeper Barry Egan and slipped over the line for what proved to be the match winning score. Belmont had one further chance to try and fashion an equaliser to send the game to extra time but they were unable to utilise it and Shinrone celebrated a famous victory.

It was a victory that looked unlikely for much of the game as Belmont led the way from the off and actually held an eight point lead on two occasions in the third quarter. But Shinrone just hung in there and two fortuitous goals in the last seven minutes of action swung the game in their favour and broke the hearts of all the Belmont players.

Shinrone deserve credit for the way they stuck to their task and not throwing in the towel when it looked like the game might be running away from them. They did enough to keep in touch so that when the goals did come late on they were enough to send them through to their second ever senior final and first since 1960.

Belmont must still be wondering how they didn't win the game. They led for most of the game but just didn't put it away when they had the opportunities in the final quarter. They have faded like that in a couple of their games this year, including the group game against Shinrone when they conceded the last 1-6 of the contest, but on that occasion they had a much bigger lead.

For many of their players it was a second crushing blow in the a week as they had lined out with Ferbane in the senior football semi-final the previous weekend and lost on penalties to Rhode after extra time. Maybe the exertions of that contest contributed to their late fade out in this game but they only managed a single point in the last 20 minutes of action. Crucially David Nally, their leading player all year, and who scored 12 points in this game, missed three frees in that second half that he normally would have slotted over and they also missed a couple of other good chances. They also lost Oisin Kelly to injury late in the game and his loss was felt.

Shinrone have threatened for a number of years but failed to get over the line in semi-finals. After beating reigning champions St Rynagh's in the quarter final, they would have had great belief going into this game but they were chasing it for most of the day. Still they stuck to their guns and picked off points without resorting to going for goals too early. They lofted a lot of high balls in around the square where Ciaran Cleary was hovering and while Belmont dealt well with most of them, there were some signs of unease and goalkeeper Barry Egan batted out a good few balls. When the goals did come they were both shots from distance that ended up in the Belmont net.

Shinrone's scoring was well spread out with nine different players contributing to their tally, with Jason Sampson's 1-2 the highest individual tally on their side.

David Nally led the way for Belmont with 0-12 but there was much better support for him than in earlier group games with seven other players also getting their names on the scoresheet.

Shinrone can now look forward to a county final appearance on Sunday week and they will be cockahoop after this victory. Eamonn Cleary had a good game in goals and in front of him Darren Crean was impressive on the full back line with Peter Cleary and Killian Sampson also doing well in their rearguard. Declan Cleary and Luke Watkins had their moments in the middle of the field while in attack Adrian Cleary, Sean Cleary and Jason Sampson all contributed to their win.

Shane Nally, Jack Egan and Mark Egan all worked very hard in the Belmont defence, while further upfield Oisin Kelly, Paddy Clancy, Cathal Flynn and David Nally all caught the eye.

Belmont made a quick start with Oisin Kelly pointing after 17 seconds and David Nally (free) and James Nally adding quick points but Shinrone replied as quickly with three points from Declan Cleary, Sean Cleary and Adrian Cleary to level matters after seven minutes. David Nally (2, one free) and Mark Cahill were on the mark for Belmont before Donal Morkan pointed a free.

Shinrone then won a penalty for a foul on Jason Sampson but Dara Maher's low effort was deflected up and over the bar by Barry Egan. David Nally pointed three frees in succession to stretch the lead to four after 19 minutes but back came Shinrone with three more from two Donal Morkan frees and another from Sean Cleary to leave just one in it. However Belmont finished the half the stronger with three more David Nally points (two frees) and two good points from play by Paddy Clancy to leave them 0-14 to 0-8 in front at half time.

Shinrone were quickly off the mark in the second half with three points in the first minute and a half from Killian Sampson, Adrian Cleary and Luke Watkins to halve the lead but once again Belmont hit five on the trot from David Nally (2, one free), Damien Egan, Oisin Kelly and Paddy Clancy to lead by 0-19 to 0-11 after 38 minutes.

Jason Sampson and Colin Egan exchanged points before Sean Cleary, Jason Sampson and Adrian Cleary edged Shinrone closer. Points from Paddy Clancy and Cathal Flynn pushed Belmont seven clear after 47 minutes but they only added one further point after that.

Donal Morkan ('65'), Adrian Cleary and D.J. McLoughlin pointed to narrow the gap as both sides hit wides. Then as the game entered injury time D.J. McLoughlin's ball from 65m ended up in the Belmont net and there was only a point in it. David Nally replied with a good point and had another chance from a 45m free but hit it badly wide. Shinrone clung in and six minutes into added time Jason Sampson fired in a shot from 45m, Barry Egan seemed to be behind it but the ball spun up off his hurley and over his shoulder and crossed the line.

Belmont got the ball upfield from the puck out but were forced over the sideline and that cut led to the final whistle and scenes of celebration for Shinrone and despair for Belmont.

MATCH ANALYSIS

THE TEAMS

SHINRONE: Eamon Cleary; Darren O'Meara, Peter Cleary, Darren Crean; Dara Maher, Michael Cleary, Killian Sampson; Declan Cleary, Luke Watkins; Donal Morkan, Sean Cleary, Adrian Cleary; Adam Landy, Ciaran Cleary, Jason Sampson. Subs. Killian Ryan (for Adam Landy, half time), D.J. McLoughlin (for Declan Cleary, 51 mins), Joe Cleary (for Luke Watkins, 53 mins), Paul Cleary (for Adrian Cleary, 63 mins).

BELMONT: Barry Egan; Conor Kenny, Shane Nally, Jack Egan; Jack Clancy, Mark Egan, Leon Fox; James Nally, Colin Egan; Mark Cahill, Damien Egan, Cathal Flynn; David Nally, Paddy Clancy, Oisin Kelly. Subs. Ronan McEvoy (for James Nally, 45 mins), David Cox (for Mark Cahill, 54 mins), Alan Egan (for Oisin Kelly, 54 mins), Conor Butler (for Colin Egan, 61 mins).

REFEREE: Brian Gavin (Clara)

MAN OF THE MATCH

This was a good team performance from Shinrone and the good spread of scorers indicates how well they did as a unit. Adrian Cleary scored four points from play and was in the thick of a lot of the action and he put in a big effort throughout so just about shades it.

MOMENT OF THE MATCH

A simple one here, Jason's Sampson's late goal was the decisive moment of the game as it sent Shinrone into their first senior final in 62 years.

REFEREE WATCH

Brian Gavin controlled the game well at all times. It was a competitive game but always fair and he handed out cards where appropriate. He was quite justified in allowing seven minutes of injury time as there were a number of long stoppages in the second half.

TALKING POINT

Belmont will agonise over the Winter over how they let this game slip from their grasp. They were never headed until that moment six minutes into added time when Shinrone got their second goal. They have now lost a number of semi-finals in recent years by very narrow margins but must have thought they had broken that sequence on Saturday until that late drama.

WHAT’S NEXT

Shinrone advance to their first county final since 1960 where they will face the winner of Sunday's semi-final between Kilcormac/Killoughey and Birr. It's the end of the season for Belmont.

VENUE WATCH

St Brendan's Park was in splendid condition for this semi-final. There was a great crowd in attendance on a sunny afternoon which was ideal for hurling. There were ample stewards on duty and everything was very well organised.

STATISTICS

Wides; Shinrone 12 (3 in first half) Belmont 12 (5 in first half)

Yellow Cards: Shinrone 4 (Michael Cleary, Killian Sampson, Darren Crean, Donal Morkan) Belmont 0

Black Cards: None

Red Cards: None

THE SCORERS

Shinrone; Jason Sampson (1-2), D.J. McLoughlin (1-1), Adrian Cleary (0-4), Donal Morkan (0-4, 0-3 frees, 0-1 '65'), Sean Cleary (0-3), Declan Cleary, Dara Maher (penalty), Killian Sampson and Luke Watkins (0-1 each).

Belmont; David Nally (0-12, 0-8 frees), Paddy Clancy (0-4), Oisin Kelly (0-2), James Nally, Mark Cahill, Damien Egan, Colin Egan, Cathal Flynn (0-1 each).

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