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29 Sept 2022

Kilcormac/Killoughey back in county final after holding off late Birr rally

Kilcormac/Killoughey back in county final after holding off late Birr rally

Conor Mahon and Kilcormac/Killoughey are back in the Offaly senior hurling final.

KILCORMAC/KILLOUGHEY are back in the Offaly senior hurling final after they had five points to spare over Birr in the second of the semi-finals played at O'Connor Park Tullamore on Sunday.

Molloy Environmental Systems Senior Hurling Semi-Final

KILCORMAC/KILLOUGHEY 1-19
BIRR 0-17

The scoreline might indicate a closer contest than it was but Kilcormac/Killoughey were well on top for most of the game and it was only in the final quarter that Birr began to eat into their lead when they hit six points in a row.

Indeed Birr had a great chance to cut the deficit to two with three minutes of injury time to play but Eoghan Cahill drilled a penalty over the bar and Kilcormac/Killoughey survived the remaining minutes to advance to a novel final meeting with Shinrone.

Kilcormac/Killoughey were the dominant team throughout the first half and but for some wayward shooting could have been further ahead at half time. As it was the gap was seven points and considering the way the game had gone, Birr probably would have been reasonable pleased to have been that close to them at the break.

Birr were ragged in that first half and were very slow to settle. They put themselves under pressure, mishandled the ball and gave possession away and Kilcormac/Killoughey punished them every time. Kilcormac/Killoughey looked far ahead of Birr and a close finish didn't look likely at that stage.

Kilcormac/Killoughey stretched their lead out to 11 points approaching the half way stage of the second half but Birr then produced their best hurling and began to claw back the deficit slowly but surely but they had left themselves too much to do and Kilcormac/Killoughey were able to hold on for the victory.

Some of their more experienced players were very much to the fore in this victory for Kilcormac/Killoughey. Damien Kilmartin, Cillian Kiely, Conor Mahon and Ger Healion were all very much involved in their dominance but they got good support from some of the younger brigade with Jordan Quinn, Colin Spain and Alex Kavanagh also making significant contributions.

Scoring has been Birr's big problem in latter times and that was very much to the fore again on Sunday. Up to the 49th minute only Colm Mulrooney and Eoghan Cahill had found the target and all the latter's scores were from placed balls. Luke Nolan and Brendan Murphy did add a point each as they mounted their late comeback but it wasn't enough. The damage had been done for them in the first half when they made too many mistakes. Along with those mentioned Jimmy Irwin, Barry Harding and Rory Carty tried hard in defence.

Both sides made changes from the named teams with Kilcormac/Killoughey lining out without Jack Screeney while Birr were missing Oisin Murphy from full back and Sean Ryan, although he did make a late appearance as a sub, and perhaps Birr's absentees were more of a loss to them

Both sides missed early chances before Cathal Kiely opened the scoring in the sixth minute from a free. Cillian Kiely added a second before the only goal came after nine minutes when Ger Healion caught a high ball, offloaded to Alex Kavanagh and he drilled his shot to the roof of the net.

Colm Mulrooney got Birr off the mark in the 11th minute but Cillian Kiely, Colin Spain, Cathal Kiely (free) and Alex Kavanagh stretched the Kilcormac/Killoughey lead out to eight points after 18 minutes. Eoghan Cahill pointed a Birr free but Kilcormac/Killoughey kept coming and Conor Mahon and two points from Lochlann Kavanagh had them 10 points up in the 21st minute.

Eoghan Cahill (free) and Colin Spain exchanged points but Birr did finish the half better and Colm Mulrooney and three Eoghan Cahill frees against a single reply from Cillian Kiely left seven points in it at half time, 1-11 to 0-7.

Ger Healion had the opening point of the second half after just 13 seconds but Eoghan Cahill quickly replied from a free. Cathal Kiely, from play and a free, and Conor Mahon extended the lead before Birr had a chance of goal but Conor Slevin saved well from Craig Taylor and after a big scramble in the Kilcormac/Killoughey goalmouth the ball went out for a '65', which Eoghan Cahill pointed.

Cillian Kiely and Cathal Kiely from a '65' stretched the lead to 11 points after 43 minutes before Eoghan Cahill (free) and Colm Mulrooney were on target again for Birr. Conor Mahon added another Kilcormac/Killoughey point after 47 minutes but they only added a single point more from a free after that.

Luke Nolan, Brendan Murphy and two more points from Colm Mulrooney had the gap down to five when Sean Ryan was tripped two minutes into five minutes of injury time and a penalty was awarded. Eoghan Cahill fired his shot high but over the bar and although the gap was now just four, you felt Birr's chance was gone. Killian Kiely sealed the victory for Kilcormac/Killoughey with a late free and they can now look forward to taking on Shinrone in the final.

MATCH ANALYSIS


THE TEAMS

KILCORMAC-KILLOUGHEY: Conor Slevin; Oisin Mahon, Enda Grogan, Tom Spain; Jordan Quinn, Damien Kilmartin, Alan Spain; Cillian Kiely, Colin Spain; Conor Mahon, James Kilmartin, Cathal Kiely; Alex Kavanagh, Ger Healion, Lochlann Kavanagh. Subs. James Gorman (for Lochlann Kavanagh, 43 mins), Charlie Mitchell (for James Kilmartin, 47 mins), Thomas Geraghty (for Cathal Kiely, 54 mins), Stephen Leonard (for Alex Kavanagh, 66 mins).

BIRR: Brian Mullins; Campbell Boyd, Padraig Watkins, Jimmy Irwin; Rory Carty, Barry Harding, Dylan Quegan; Brendan Murphy, Lochlann Quinn; Colm Mulrooney, Paul Cleary, Morgan Watkins; Luke Nolan, Niall Lyons, Eoghan Cahill. Subs. Craig Taylor (for Lochlann Quinn, 26 mins), Sean Ryan (for Paul Cleary, 37 mins).

REFEREE: Kieran Dooley (Drumcullen)

MAN OF THE MATCH

Killian Kiely was excellent at midfield for Kilcormac/Killoughey throughout. He scored four points from play, won a huge amount of possession and in the closing minutes when Birr were putting on the pressure was the one who came bursting out to win the free that relieved the pressure.

MOMENT OF THE MATCH

The early goal put Kilcormac/Killoughey in the driving seat from an early stage and they never relinquished control thereafter. It was simple route one stuff, with a long high ball in to Ger Healion, he won it in the air, offloaded to Alex Kavanagh and he rifled it to the net.

REFEREE WATCH

There were no quibbles about Kieran Dooley's officiating of this game. He let things flow when he could but was also firm and decisive when he needed to be and he kept control of the game and never let it boil over.

TALKING POINT

Birr left themselves far too much work to do after a poor first half. They did well to come back into it and if Eoghan Cahill's penalty had hit the net, the gap would have been down to two points with three minutes to play and who knows what might have happened, but it was their poor first half performance that cost them dearly on this occasion.

WHAT’S NEXT

Kilcormac/Killoughey advance to a county final meeting with Shinrone in two weeks in the hope of winning their fifth Sean Robbins Cup. This concludes the year for Birr.

VENUE WATCH

O'Connor Park was in great condition fo the game. A big crowd was present for the contest and it was great to see loads of kids out pucking around at half time. All arrangements otherwise were perfectly in place for the game.

STATISTICS

Wides; Kilcormac/Killoughey 13 (8 in first half) Birr 7 (4 in first half)

Yellow Cards: Kilcormac/Killoughey 3 (Damien Kilmartin, Cillian Kiely, Cathal Kiely) Birr 2 (Dylan Watkins, Brendan Murphy).

Black Cards: None

Red Cards: None

THE SCORERS

Kilcormac/Killoughey; Cillian Kiely (05, 0-1 free), Cathal Kiely (0-5, 0-3 frees, 0-1 '65'), Alex Kavanagh (1-1), Conor Mahon (0-3), Colin Spain and Lochlann Kavanagh (0-2 each), Ger Healion (0-1).

Birr; Eoghan Cahill (0-10, 0-8 frees, 0-1 '65', 0-1 penalty), Colm Mulrooney (0-5), Luke Nolan and Brendan Murphy (0-1 each).

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