Record breaking weekend in Offaly Senior Hurling Championship

IT was a weekend that began in controversy given the fixing of a full round of the SHC on a weekend that was not designated a hurling championship weekend.

IT was a weekend that began in controversy given the fixing of a full round of the SHC on a weekend that was not designated a hurling championship weekend.

By Saturday evening we had seen the ending of a 54 year hoodoo, a record that stood for over 80 years almost being smashed and a famous win for Offaly’s newest senior hurling club over a traditional hurling club.

Gaels Force

That famous win was Brosna Gaels’, who were full value for their 1-10 to 0-10 win over Kinnitty at O’Connor Park last Thursday evening. Played in miserable conditions, Brosna Gaels dictated the entire first half and their handling of the wet ball was exemplary. With Alan Lynam controlling midfield, Jason Devery winning aerial possession, Des Egan scoring two sublime points and Fergal Daly also in fine scoring form Gaels led 0-7 to 0-4 at half-time.

James Rigney came into it after the break and were level by the 40th minute (0-7 each). The next score was vital and it was Fergal Daly who tapped over a free, before Des Egan scored a peach to put two in it. The introduction of Trevor Phelan gave Gaels’ attack a fresh impetus and Daly pointed another free to make it 0-10 to 0-7. Kinnitty pointed twice to make it 0-10 to 0-9, but sub Trevor Phelan got on the end of a passing move to bang home the match-winning goal in the 58th minute.

Sash Frighten Birr

Also on Thursday in Banagher, intermediate champions of 2010 Drumcullen pushed Birr all the way but ultimately came up short as Sean Ryan’s first half goal gave Donal Franks side a 1-12 to 0-13 win. Dylan Hayden scored a couple of important late points while Paul Cleary and Rory Hanniffy were the steadying influences for a Birr side that was seriously depleted and even regular custodian Brian Mullins got a taste of action at corner forward. Drumcullen put in a huge effort with Ray Gath, Conor Gath, John Cashen and Danny Maher figuring prominently and they were bitterly disappointed not to have pulled off a major upset.

Belmont Blast Blues

Belmont were severely depleted for their clash with Tullamore and played the match under protest. It was score-for-score throughout the entire first half and with Leon Fox capably deputising for Mark Egan on the freetaking duties (he scored ten points, five in each half), John Egan and James Murphy hurling well in defence, and David Cox and Eddie Egan doing well at midfield, Belmont held a 0-8 to 0-7 half-time lead.

The move of Colin Egan to the half-forward line was a key move and Belmont never lost their lead during the second half. Shane Dooley did score nine points in all (including a sideline cut) but Dooley was the Blues’ only scorer in a second half that saw Tullamore substitute four forwards and a midfielder. Leon Fox’s tenth point gave Belmont a 0-13 to 0-10 lead with four minutes left but two quickfire Dooley frees left just a point in it and a draw was likely. Enter David Kenny who gained possession deep in his own half of the field, sauntered upfield and drove the ball over the bar. Belmont held on for a 0-14 to 0-12 win.

Significant Shinrone Victory

Shinrone had never beaten St Rynagh’s in 14 previous attempts - indeed their last win over a team from Banagher parish was a win over Shannon Rovers back in 1958 – but they broke new ground with a 2-11 to 0-10 win over the Shannonsiders in Birr in Saturday evening. Shinrone, with seven U21’s on board, led 1-8 to 0-5 at half-time, wind assisted, with Jason Sampson goaling.

St Rynagh’s reduced the deficit to three points with just twelve second-half minutes gone and they seemed set for another win over Shinrone. But defenders Colin O’Meara, Willie Comerford and Denis Coonan got stuck in, Mark morkan anchored the defence from centre-back, Michael Cordial gained possession in every sector of the pitch and Derek Morkan and Daniel Hoctor drove them on in attack. There was still a goal in it when Darren Crean collected a pass from Dónal Morkan behind the Rynagh’s full-back line and planted the ball in the net in the 54th minute. Dónal Morkan’s late point sealed Shinrone’s 2-11 to 0-10 win, maintaining their unbeaten record between championship and league this year.

Draw Masters

It seems Seir Kieran and Kilcormac-Killoughey just can’t stop drawing with each other. The pair drew twice in the 2009 quarter-final, when K-K prevailed after extra-time. They still couldn’t be separated at half-time in the second of the double-header played at Birr last Saturday evening, at which stage they were tied 0-5 each, bith had hit five wides but K-K were awarded 7 frees to Seir Kieran’s five.

In a teak-tough encounter, Stephen Hynes netted a fine goal less than a minute after the restart. Seir Kieran twice led by five – 1-8 to 0-6 (35 mins) and 1-9 to 0-7 (40 mins) in between which Eoin Coughlan saved Ciarán Slevin’s penalty. Five points in as many minutes (three Ciarán Slevin frees, Conor Mahon and Daniel Currams) saw K-K level with 13 minutes to go.

Seir Kieran recovered to lead by three going into injury time, the highlight being a mighty one from Dermot Mooney – who had a fine game – and the Clareen men looked set for the win. K/K had one last chance and deep in stoppage time Trevor Fletcher made enough of a nuisance of himself in the square and Mark Leonard reacted quickest to finish the ball to the net. Another draw.

The only blackspot on a good evening’s entertainment was the failure of the Birr club to provide linesmen. Each of the four competing clubs provided linesmen which didn’t help the referees when both the awarding and placing of line-balls was disputed more than once.

Shamrocks Crushed

The biggest ever winning margin in an Offaly SHC game was set back in 1928 when Coolderry beat Mount Heaton 11-8 to 1-0. Coolderry’s 4-24 to 0-3 win over Shamrocks at Lusmagh on Saturday came within five points of that 38-point record.

Results to-date

Group 1 - Rd 1 Coolderry 1-17 K/K 2-14, Kinnitty 1-11 Seir Kieran 1-11, Brosna Gaels 2-13 Shamrocks 1-9. Rd 2 Brosna Gaels 1-10 Kinnitty 0-10, Kilcormac / Killoughey 1-13 Seir Kieran 1-13, Coolderry 4-24 Shamrocks 0-3.

Group 2 - Rd 1 Shinrone 4-14 Drumcullen 1-13, Birr 1-17 Belmont 1-8, St Rynagh’s 0-12 Tullamore 0-7. Rd 2 Belmont 0-14 Tullamore 0-12, Birr 1-12 Drumcullen 0-13, Shinrone 2-11 St Rynaghs 0-10.