“Matches are never gone, particularly championship hurling”, was the first reaction of St. Rynagh’s manager Ken Hogan after Sunday’s Senior Hurling Championship final, when Stephen Quirke’s late goal gave the club their third Seán Robbins Cup in succession, while also giving Hogan his sixth Offaly senior title as manager.
“The 65 that Aidan (Treacy) scored was crucial. There was a temptation to lob it in and we said take the point, which he did. We were trying for the equaliser at the very end and thankfully the ball broke and Stephen Quirke applied the finishing touch. What a way to win it! In 2015 Coolderry caught Rynagh’s in a similar way so it’s amazing how fate intervenes.”
For most of the second half, Coolderry were in control of the game, moving from two points down to three up with a little over five minutes remaining. To a lot of supporters in the ground, it looked as if St. Rynagh’s were struggling to make any impression up front, though Hogan singled out some of his replacements as key men in setting up that grandstand finish.
“I’m thrilled for the lads and it speaks highly of our bench. Paul Quirke, Niall Wynne, they changed the game for us and made a huge difference. Ciaran Flannery just got in there and worked hard to manufacture the scores to win the game.”
Hogan said that matters like Leinster championship hurling didn’t feature in their thoughts up to Sunday, that the importance of this championship superceded everything.
“We’ve won two county titles in three months but I think it’s taken its toll, we were tired today, we were that little bit stale, because we’ve put so much into the last three years.
“It means a huge amount to the club. When I came in to these guys, the doubts were there and the criticism was there. But as a group of players, I was only facilitating the situation, all they needed was to be led. Andy Smith as a strength and conditioning coach, Eunan Martin, Martin Hanamy, David Hughes, they’re massive men within the club. They sacrificed their lives, put their lives on hold, to be down in the pitch every night.”
One suspects they’ll be happy to go down for a few more, at least until either Ballyhale Shamrocks or Mount Leinster Rangers come to town.
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