Mellows claim victory in Salthill
Galway SHC Final
LIAM MELLOWS 3-12 GORT 1-15
By Daragh Small at Pearse Stadium
A superb year for Galway hurling has come to a conclusion with the sport in the city getting a huge boost as Liam Mellows captured their first title since 1970.
The victory, their eighth county title, moves them up to third in the Galway roll of honour.
Liam Mellows were certainly not overawed by their first county final appearance in 47 years and deservedly led by 2-7 to 0-8 against an experienced Gort side who were contesting their fifth decider in a decade.
The sides were level three times in the opening 10 minutes as both teams made the most of the conditions on a good surface at Pearse Stadium.
Adrian Morrissey landed a couple of frees for Liam Mellows, with Aidan Helebert nabbing two from play for last year’s runners-up, while Jason Grealish of Gort and Tadhg Haran — with the first of a couple of excellent sidelines — also exchanged points.
Albert Mullins and Aidan Helebert struck good points to lead by 0-5 to 0-3 but Haran responded for the city side to leave just a point between them at the end of the opening quarter.
Helebert, having hit three from play, then converted his first free for Gort, but then they were rocked after 19 minutes when former Galway player Aonghus Callanan worked his way in from the left to crack a superb shot to the net from a tight angle.
Callanan quickly added a point to lead by 1-5 to 0-6, but Gort hit back with two frees in quick succession from Helebert to tie the match.
Mellows finished the half strongly with a pointed free from Morrissey and a good effort from Ronan Elwood before Haran raced on to a ball and burst through to blast to the net to lead by 2-7 to 0-8 at the interval.
As expected, Gort hit back after the restart with Aidan Helebert hitting four frees and Greg Lally landing one from distance in addition to an effort from play from Kaelan Higgins.
But Mellows kept in front with Morrissey responding with a brace to leave them leading by 2-9 to 0-14 going into the final quarter.
Mellows struck a huge blow when Conor Kavanagh took a delivery from Haran and fired home their third goal, with frees either side of that score from Morrissey leaving them leading by 3-11 to 0-14 with 10 minutes remaining.
Gort’s hopes suffered another big set-back when wing-forward Michael Mullins got a red card for a challenge on David Collins.
Gort came with a late rally which yielded a goal from Richie Cummins in injury-time to cut the gap to three points, but Mellows held on for a deserved success.
Scorers for Liam Mellows: Adrian Morrissey 0-8 (7fs), Tadhg Haran 1-2 (2 sideline cuts), Aonghus Callanan 1-1, Conor Kavanagh 1-0, Ronan Elwood 0-1.
Scorers for Gort: Aidan Helebert 0-10 (7fs), Richard Cummins 1-0, Greg Lally 0-2 (2fs), Albert Mullins 0-1, Jason Grealish 0-1, Kaelen Higgins 0-1.
LIAM MELLOWS: Kenneth Walsh; Cathal Reilly, Michael Conneely, Sean Morrissey; Mark Hughes, David Collins, Stephen Barrett; Jack Hastings, Kevin Lee; Conor Hynes, Tadhg Haran, Ronan Elwood; Adrian Morrissey, Aonghus Callanan, Conor Kavanagh.
Subs: Jack Forde for C Hynes (57), David Fahy for Callanan (60), Conor Elwood for Kavanagh (62).
GORT: Gavin Lally; Mark McMahon, Andy Coen, Michael Cummins; Patrick Lally, Greg Lally, Jack Grealish; Sylvie Og Linnane, Aidan Harte; Michael Mullins, Aiden Helebert, Kaelen Higgins; Albert Mullins, Richard Cummins, Jason Grealish.
Subs: Niall Forde for M Cummins (4), M Cummins for N Forde (5), Jack Commins for A Mullins (49), N Forde for M Cummins (53), Paul Killilea for Jason Grealish (55), Keith Killilea for Helebert (60).
REFEREE: Christy Browne.