Birr hold off late Shamrock onslaught to claim Intermediate Hurling title
When the final whistle went in the 2021 Intermediate Final, there was just one point between two evening matched teams.
Intermediate Hurling Championship Final
Birr are the 2021 Intermediate Hurling champions after a narrow win over Shamrocks on Sunday afternoon. Birr were fired up from the start and were deserved winners on the day. Shamrocks will be bitterly disappointed with the performance and their flame never really ignited. They mounted a comeback at the end, but It proved to be too little too late as Birr held on for a one-point victory.
It was an ideal day for hurling with a crisp sun beating down on Rath on Sunday morning. Underfoot conditions were tough, and it was a scrappy start to the game with players from both sides struggling to stay on their feet.
Birr started well and they were off the mark immediately after the throw in through Craig Shortt. It was score for score in the opening quarter and Nigel Dunne responded almost immediately for Shamrocks from a placed ball. Dylan Murphy and Michael Mulrooney nudged Birr in front and another Nigel Dunne free left one point between the sides at the first water break.
Mulrooney was on the scoresheet again after the water break and Nigel Dunne replied with a free. When Padraic Cantwell was hauled down in front of goal, it looked like a penalty, however after consultation with his umpires, Ciaran Groome gave a free instead, which Dunne sent over. Cathal Kirwan sent Birr back into the ascendancy but Shane Heffernan pointed just before the half time break to level the game at the half time whistle. Remarkably, Heffernan’s point was the only score Shamrocks managed from play in the first half as they struggled for scores throughout.
David Molloy’s point just after half time put Shamrocks in front for the first time and it looked as if they may push on.
However, momentum swung, and Birr hit six on the trot. Three frees from Michael Mulrooney and points from Joe Ryan, Tomás Bolger and Eoin Hayes gave them a four-point lead at the second water break.
Shamrocks rallied in the fourth quarter and they had it back to two points when Shane O’Toole Greene and Nigel Dunne pointed. Scott Feenane and Eoin Hayes restored the four-point lead, but Shamrocks plugged away and two Nigel Dunne frees kept them within striking distance of their opponents.
Shamrocks needed scores but it just didn’t happen. Tomás Bolger hit two points in a row while Michael Mulrooney pointed from a free to edge Birr further in front and it was enough to get them over the line.
A late Nigel Dunne free which he buried to the net threw Shamrocks a lifeline and he split the posts with another free to reduce the Birr lead to a single point.
However, it proved to be too little, too late for the Shamrocks men and Birr held on spectacularly to claim the silverware and ensure they will play Senior ‘B’ Hurling in 2022.
BIRR: Michael Mulrooney 0-6(0-6F), Tomas Bolger 0-3, Eoin Hayes, Craig Shortt, Dylan Murphy, Scott Feenane, Joe Ryan, Cathal Kirwan, Kevin Tierney all 0-1 each.
SHAMROCKS: Nigel Dunne 1-9 (1-9F), Shane Heffernan, Shane O’Toole Greene, David Molloy 0-1 each.
SHAMROCKS: Niall Darcy; Jack Molloy, Conor Condron, Sean Cantwell; Adrian Minnock, Cal Ahearne, Stephen Malone; Dan Heffernan, Alan Foster; Padraig Cantwell, Shane Heffernan, Conor Moran; Nigel Dunne, Shane O’Toole Greene, David Molloy. Subs: Glenn Mooney for Conor Condron inj (18), Barry Kelly for Shane Heffernan (41), David O’Toole Greene for David Molloy (43), Darren Meacle for Barry Kelly (59).
BIRR: Sean Thompson; Sam Smith, Donal Ryan, Campbell Boyd; Joe Ryan, Craig Pardy, Kevin Tierney; Michael Mulrooney, Scott Feenane; Eoin Hayes, Cathal Kirwan, Craig Shortt; T.J Loonam,Tomas Bolger, Dylan Murphy. Subs: Jack Pardy for Dylan Murphy (H/T).
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