South Tipp Senior Hurling Final
Carrick Swans 2-9
Carrick Swans 2-9
The slicker and sharper team from the first whistle to the last, holders and favourites Mullinahone captured the O’Riain Cup for the 11th time when they defeated Carrick Swans in the South Tipp Senior Hurling Championship Final at Clonmel Sportsfield on Sunday evening.
The team from Kickhams country now advance to the County quarter-finals, hoping to commemorate the 10th anniversary of their one and only County Senior success by claiming the Dan Breen Cup for the second time.
The large attendance that flocked to the sunlit venue saw Mullinahone set the template for their victory from the opening minutes. With the breeze and the sun behind them they started at a much higher gear than the Swans and were 6 points to no score ahead after 12 minutes, an advantage they held at half-time when the score was 0-11 to 0-5.
Carrick Swans came much more into the picture after the re-start and when a speculative lob from the wing from substitute Keith Walsh dropped into the net they were just 3 points in arrears midway through the second half.
However their hopes of a comeback were dashed again just over a minute later when Sean Curran and captain Paul Kelly combined to put Eoin Kelly clear and he shot low to the net to put his side back in the driving seat.
Swans fought to the finish and had the consolation of a second goal deep in injury time when Stephen Hahessy’s long-range effort went all the way to the net.
County panellist Sean Curran, who put in a strong performance, earned the man of the match award and Mullinahone had several other contenders for the award.
A fit-looking Eoin Kelly scored 1-11 of their total, including 1-3 from play. He was unerringly accurate from frees, converting seven, and capped an outstanding display with a delightful sideline chip that sailed between the posts for his team’s last score in additional time.
AJ Cronin hardly put a foot wrong in a Mullinahone defence in which county captain Paul Curran, as well as Kevin Walzer, also played starring roles.
Edwin O’Meara was impressive in midfield while Donal Cody also shone.
Swan were playing catch-up from the early moments, with Eoin Kelly converting two frees inside the opening minutes. Paul Kelly had their first score from play in the 5th minute and when further points followed from Eoin Kelly’s free, Sean Curran and another Eoin Kelly free they were 6 points ahead after 12 points, as they constructed the lead that served as the foundation for victory.
Swan needed to gain a foothold to prevent the game from turning into a procession and they succeeded in at least stemming the tide. Danny O’Hanlon opened their account from a free in the 12th minute and then James Waters almost immediately added another point.
However Mullinahone remained in control and scores from Eoin Kelly’s free, James Connolly and another Eoin Kelly free put them seven clear after 18 minutes.
Swan stayed in touch with points from Anthony O’Donnell and Danny O’Hanlon’s free and they had a let-off a couple of minutes before half-time when Eoin Kelly fed Cathal Horan and his shot struck the crossbar. A goal at that stage would have buried Swan but a Dwayne Fogarty point on the stroke of half-time meant they weren’t without hope facing into the second period.
The early stages of the second half followed a familiar pattern. Niall Curran set up Eoin Kelly to score his first point from play, with Stephen Hahessy replying for Swan after a great solo run.
Swan had noticeably increased their workrate from the re-start and the extra effort was rewarded when Keith Walsh found the net 16 minutes into the second half, moments after Stephen Hahessy’s shot at goal was blocked by a phalanx of Mullinahone hurleys.
The goal gave Swans a brief glimmer of hope. Centre-back Kevin Lanigan, who swept up an amount of ball, was central to their recovery while Gerry Walsh and Stephen Hahessy also battled hard.
However that hope was extinguished almost as quickly when Eoin Kelly goaled to restore Mullinahone’s six-points advantage.
They were were moving the ball much faster than their opponents and went nine clear with points from Sean Curran, Donal Cody and Eoin Kelly as the game headed towards an inevitable conclusion.
Substitute Dale O’Mahoney had a blistering drive well saved by Mullinahone goalie Alan Walsh before Stephen Hahessy’s late goal provided some crumb of comfort for a Carrick team who were also left to regret their 12 wides, 6 in each half.
Mullinahone - Alan Walsh, Kevin Walzer, AJ Cronin, Gary Cronin, Eoin Fennelly, Paul Curran, James Connolly (0-1), Edwin O’Meara (0-1), Philip O’Shea, Sean Curran (0-2), Niall Curran, Donal Cody (0-1), Cathal Horan, Paul Kelly (captain 0-1) and Eoin Kelly (1-11, including 0-7 frees and 0-1 sideline). Substitutes - Jack Shelly for Philip O’Shea (36 minutes) and Alan Curran for Cathal Horan (53 minutes).
Carrick Swans - Tom Kennedy, Darren Murphy, Gerry Walsh, Darren Fahy, Aaron Walsh, Kevin Lanigan (0-3 frees), Johnny Grace, Mikey Loughman, Stephen Hahessy (1-1), Kieran Reade, Anthony O’Donnell (0-1), Danny O’Hanlon (captain 0-2 frees), Dwayne Fogarty (0-1), James Waters (0-1) and Bill Walsh. Substitutes - Keith Walsh (1-0) for Mikey Loughman (41 minutes), Paul Diffly for James Waters (41 minutes), Martin Russell for Darren Murphy (42 minutes), Dale O’Mahony for Dwayne Fogarty (50 minutes) and Shane Hogan for Anthony O’Donnell (60 minutes).
Referee - Paddy Ivors (Ballingarry).