Kanturk crowned AIB All-Ireland Club Intermediate Hurling Champions
AIB All-Ireland Club Intermediate Hurling Final
KANTURK (Cork) 1-18 ST PATRICK’S BALLYRAGGET (Kilkenny) 1-17
By John Harrington at Croke Park
A dramatic injury-time winner from Kanturk’s Ian Walsh settled a thrilling AIB All-Ireland Club Intermediate Hurling Final at Croke Park this afternoon.
The Cork club and their Kilkenny opponents St. Patrick’s, Ballyragget served up a magnificent contest that swung to and fro, but in the final reckoning Kanturk were deserving winners.
They had to show a lot of character to come away with the win, because having led for most of the game they sustained a real body blow when Michael Brennan struck for a Ballyragget goal after 54 minutes.
It looked like the Kilkenny side had a priceless momentum when Kevin Kelly followed up that goal with a pointed free to push them two clear, but Kanturk rallied again to win the game in dramatic fashion.
Even though both teams were guilty of some poor shooting throughout, right from the start this was an absorbing contest between two high calibre teams.
Kanturk were the better team for much of the first half thanks to the dominance of their midfielders Lorcán McLoughlin and Ryan Walsh, and the ball-winning ability of strapping forwards like Aidan Walsh and Ian Walsh.
The Cork had opened a deserved 0-8 to 0-5 lead by the 24th minute, but then three points in as many minutes from Ballyragget tied the game up.
Just when it looked like they were getting the measure of Kanturk, they were sent reeling just before half-time when the Cork side scored a quickfire 1-1.
The goal came from the outstanding Rian Walsh, and it was a beauty. He Picking up the ball around 40 yards from goal he put his head down charged straight at the heart of the Ballyragget defence.
20 yards from goal he unleashed a piledriver of a shot that Michael Gannon had no chance of saving, and so when the half-time whistle blew Kanturk were leading by 1-10 to 0-9.
The tempo of the game went up a couple of notches in the second-half as Ballyragget started to find their groove, thanks largely to some brilliant scoring from the powerful Seoirse Kenny.
He would finish the game with five points from play, and all of them were of the inspirational variety from long-range.
Yet despite his best efforts, Kanturk were still keeping their noses in front because they were playing some great hurling of their own.
Lorcán McLoughlin in particularly had really thundered into the game, and Anthony Nash was doing his bit for the cause too as he pointed a ridiculously long-range free for the second time in the match.
Ballyragget hadn’t really posed much of a goal threat all day, but when they finally created a genuine opening they finished it ruthlessly.
Michael Brennan still had a lot to do when he fetched Stephen Staunton’s long delivery, but he created half a yard with a lovely swivel and then absolutely planted the ball in the roof of the net.
It looked like a real turning-point especially when Kevin Kelly followed up with that pointed free a minute later, but these Kanturk players are clearly made of steely stuff.
They lost Aidan Walsh to a dislocated shoulder in the closing minutes but they still had the resolve to find a way to win the match.
A point from Ian Walsh and two from McLoughlin edged the Cork side into the lead briefly before Kelly made it all square again with a pointed free on 63 minutes.
There were just two minutes of injury-time left to play now, so the next score was always likely to be the winner.
And when it came it was surely the sort of point that Ian Walsh would have dreamed about hitting to win an All-Ireland Final.
Winning possession out on the left wing, he moved infield and drove the ball high and handsomely between the posts from around 55 yards out.
What a way to win a match of this magnitude.
Scorers for Kanturk: Lorcan McLoughlin 0-7 (5f), Ryan Walsh 1-2, Ian Walsh 0-3, Aidan Walsh 0-2, Anthony Nash 0-2, Donnacha Kenneally 0-1, Alan O’Keeffe 0-1
Scorers for St. Patrick’s, Ballyragget: Kevin Kelly 0-8 (7f), Seoirse Kenny 0-5, Michael Brennan 1-0, Joe Brennan 0-3.
KANTURK: Anthony Nash; Paul Walsh, John McLoughlin, Eoghain O’Connor; John Browne, Darren Browne, Mark Healy; Lorcan McLoughlin, Ryan Walsh; Ian Walsh, Lorcan O’Neill, Aidan Walsh; Donnacha Kenneally, Alan O’Keeffe, Liam O’Keeffe. Subs: James Fitzpatrick for Alan O’Keefe (49), Eoghain O’Connor for Aidan Walsh (59)
ST PATRICK’S, BALLYRAGGET: Michael Gannon; John Mooney, James Gannon, Mark Staunton; Geoff Brennan, Stephen Staunton, Robert Healy; Seoirse Kenny, Bill Staunton; Eoin Bergin, Joe Brennan, Barry Staunton; Michael Brennan, Brian Brook Phelan, Kevin Kelly. Subs: Sean Mooney for Eoin Bergin (40)
Ref: Johnny Murphy (Limerick)