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29 Nov 2021

Three in a row as St Rynagh's snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in dramatic fashion

Three in a row as St Rynagh's snatch victory from the jaws of defeat

St Rynagh's captain Conor Clancy with the Sean Robbins Cup

ST Rynagh's snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in the most dramatic of circumstances when an injury time goal from Stephen Quirke gave them a win over an absolutely gutted Coolderry side.

Molloy Environmental Systems Senior Hurling Championship final

St Rynagh's 1-11
Coolderry 0-12

Two minutes of the three minutes of injury time had elapsed when Quirke scrambled the ball into the net, via a couple of deflections, after a desperate goalmouth tussle as Rynagh's sub Ciaran Flannery got his hurl to the ball.

The champions very much got out of jail here as Coolderry looked to have done enough to win after a great second half fightback. Coolderry had missed their own goal chance with two minutes left when Ben Conneely brilliantly hooked David Tooher who looked set to net after another sub Kevin Brady got the ball across to him.

A goal at that stage would almost certainly have won it for Coolderry and if they had, St Rynagh's would have been the first to tip their hats to them. Paradoxically, St Rynagh's had sixteen wides compared to just six for Coolderry which suggests they had a lot more possession, and while that may be the case, they were very much below par on the day.

St Rynagh's were ahead by 0-6 to 0-4 at half time but had to fight an increasingly desperate rearguard action for much of the second half, Cooolderry were the better team for much of the second half as they forced Rynagh's onto the backfoot. They got their noses in front, 0-8 to 0-7 for the first time by the 42nd minute. Aidan Treacy levelled it up but Coolderry tore into them again and in a great spell of sustained pressure, Brian Carroll (two, one free) and Kevin Connolly pointed to put them 0-11 to 0-8 ahead.

St Rynagh's displayed most of the hallmarks of a beaten team at this stage. They absolutely emptied the tank but their hurling was full of errors and they had some very poor wides. They hit eleven in the second half and the ones from Aidan Treacy, Niall Wynne, Paul Quirke and Ciaran Flannery suggested that they would be beaten.

They were, however, relentless in the way they kept plugging away and their heads never dropped. They lifted the Coolderry siege and two points in a minute from brothers Stephen and Paul Quirke had it back down to a point with three minutes left. In a hugely exciting finish, Coolderry rallied again. Tooher had that goal chance but when Brian Carroll tapped over a lovely point from the left, it looked like a two point lead would do. Aidan Treacy got a "65" for St Rynagh's after his goal shot was deflected out and a replay loomed large.

St Rynagh's, however, had one last arrow in their pocket and it gave them three in a row for the first time since the 1970s. In a way, it was fitting that this game should be settled by a scrappy, scrambled goal because it was that type of a match.

It was a low scoring, ferociously fought shootout where neither side suffered fools. It was close, it was intense and every ball was very hard earned. It was also messy with a lot of rucks, the first touch was not always clinical and there was very little free flowing hurling. It was not a game for the purists but it still was compelling to watch and the issue went right down to the wire.

It was one of those rare occasions where the better team didn't win. A draw may have been the fairest result but Coolderry definitely didn't deserve to lose on the day. They deserve huge credit for the way they wrestled control in the second half and got into a winning position. They had some of the best players on the day and the result was rough justice on them.

That, however, won't bother St Rynagh's in the slightest. The result is always the bottom line and it is a sign of a very good team that can keep going when things are going wrong. It was a day when sheer character, will power and thickness got them across the line. They have had much better performances during their great three in a row run but they will cherish this win as much as any of them.

There were great, fascinating duels here with Ben Conneely and Brian Carroll having an epic battle on the forty. Conneely played well but Carroll really stood up to be counted for Coolderry in the second half, getting three points from play and putting them in a winning position.

Pat Camon and Matthew Maloney had excellent games in the Rynagh's defence, while Dermot Shortt had a very good first half and Conor Clancy was brilliantly reliable in their goals, even though he didn't have to make a save. St Rynagh's found the going tough at midfield but Joseph O'Connor ended up a pivotal figure as he played his way into the game in the second half, after making a few mistakes earlier on.

The St Rynagh's attack never really got going but in fairness, the conditions were heavy and it was a day for defences. Aidan Treacy was St Rynagh's best forward while Stephen Quirke's late scores were the difference in the end - subs Niall Wynne and Paul Quirke worked very hard when introduced, winning crucial ball, though each contributed to their quota of bad wides, missing a good chance in the closing quarter. 

Coolderry won't be in the market for praise this week but they can be so proud of the way they performed here. Stephen Burke, David King and Gearoid McCormack were outstanding in their defence and were all in contention for the man of the match award – they defended tigerishly and used the ball well.

William Malone worked hard at midfield while Eoin Ryan, Brian Carroll and Kevin Connolly all had very productive spells up front. Ultimately Coolderry paid the price for a poor first half display in which they generated little true momentum but they were so close to a famous win.

It was very tight from the start though St Rynagh's settled quickly with Aaron Kenny, Gary Conneely and Aidan Treacy registering points in the first two minutes.

Coolderry were competing well in open play but their eye was not in. Brian Carroll had a wide from play and from two frees while Carroll, Daniel Miller and Kevin Connolly dropped balls short into the hands of a grateful Conor Clancy.

Brian Carroll did find the range with a 10th minute free and Eoin Ryan got their first score from play in the 13th minute to leave Coolderry trailing by 0-3 to 0-2 at the water break.

Both sides doubled their tally in the second quarter to leave St Rynagh's leading by 0-6 to 0-4 at half time. Rynagh's points came from Aidan Treacy (free) and Luke O'Connor (two, one free) while Coolderry replied with a super David King point and a Brian Carroll free. Both had bad misses with Aaron Kenny and Ronan Hughes off target for St Rynagh's while Brian Carroll missed the type of Coolderry free that he would usually convert with his eyes closed.

Coolderry began to play much better in the second half, really tearing into St Rynagh's and giving them no space to settle. Kevin Connolly and Aidan Treacy swopped points before Coolderry hit a purple patch that yielded points from Brian Carroll, Eoin Ryan and Kevin Connolly and a 0-8 to 0-7 lead after 42 minutes.

St Rynagh's were rattled but an excellent Aidan Treacy point restored parity at the second half water break, 0-8 each. It created a frantic, hugely exciting closing quarter during which the momentum swung in Coolderry's favour before St Rynagh's got back in front at the right time.

MATCH ANALYSIS

THE SCORERS

St Rynagh's: Aidan Treacy 0-5 (1f and 1 “65”), Stephen Quirke 1-1, Luke O'Connor 0-2 (1f), Garry Conneely, Paul Quirke and Aaron Kenny 0-1 each.

Coolderry: Brian Carroll 0-6 (3f), Kevin Connolly 0-3, Eoin Ryan 0-2, David King 0-1.

THE TEAMS

ST RYNAGH'S: Conor Clancy; Conor Hernon, Pat Camon, Stephen Wynne; Matthew Maloney, Ben Conneely, Dermot Shortt; Joseph O'Connor, Ronan Hughes; Stephen Quirke, Sean Dolan, GarRy Conneely; Luke O'Connor, Aidan Treacy, Aaron Kenny. Subs – Niall Wynne for Luke O'Connor (38m), Paul Quirke for Hughes (41m), Diarmuid Horan for Garry Conneely (46m), Ciaran Flannery for Kenny (49m),

COOLDERRY: Stephen Corcoran; Stephen Burke, Trevor Corcoran, Stephen Connolly; Conor Molloy, David King, Gearoid McCormack; Shane Ryan, William Malone; Eoin Ryan, Brian Carroll, Eoghan Parlon; Daniel Miller, Kevin Connolly, Cian Burke. Subs – David Tooher for Miller (37m), Kevin Brady for Burke (46m), Mark Bergin for Ryan (57m), David Connolly for Malone (59m),

Referee – Kieran Dooley (Drumcullen).

MAN OF THE MATCH

David King (Coolderry): Matthew Maloney got the official man of the match award and he had an excellent game in the St Rynagh's defence. It was one of those days, however, where a number of the game's outstanding performers were in the green of Coolderry. One of those was Coolderry captain David King, who lorded the game at centre half back. He was up against a St Rynagh's powerhouse in Sean Dolan but controlled his sector with great efficiency as well as distributing the ball very well.

MOMENT OF THE MATCH

An easy one here. Stephen Quirke's winning goal was the only moment that counted.

REFEREE WATCH

Kieran Dooley refereed this game well. He let play run and frees were hard earned. Both sides were rightly annoyed at some of the frees not given to them but that is the way a lot of hurling games are being refereed now. He kept control of the game, was consistent in the way he penalised over carrying and allowed things develop.

TALKING POINT

There was a surprisingly poor attendance at this final with less than 3,000 people in Tullamore – the official crowd was 2,833. Normally the hurling final would have over 5,000 people. The reason for the decline isn't the venue as O'Connor Park has hosted finals for the past several years and there have been bumper crowds at some of these. The late November fixture may have been a reason while Tullamore playing a Leinster club football game in Newbridge would also have had an impact of a couple of hundred plus. The pairing possibly didn't excite neutrals in football areas of the county, who would normally travel – not to mention some hurling parts in the south! Fears about surging Covid numbers could also have been a factor.

VENUE WATCH

The O'Connor Park pitch was in excellent condition with the morning frost replaced by afternoon sunshine. It did cut up a bit in patches as the game wore on but considering the time of year, it was remarkably good.

WHAT'S NEXT

St Rynagh's play Mount Leinster Rangers of Carlow or Kilkenny's Ballyhale Shamrocks in O'Connor Park on December 12.

STATISTICS

Wides: St Rynagh's – 16 (5 in first half); Coolderry – 7 (4 in first half).

Yellow cards: St Rynagh's – 2 (Stephen Wynne and Aaron Kenny); Coolderry – 1 (Cian Burke).

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