Galway SHC: Larkins defeat Loughrea
Galway SHC Group A
TOMMY LARKINS 1-16 LOUGHREA 0-15
By Cian O'Connell at Kenny Park
This turned into a hugely satisfying Galway SHC opener for Tommy Larkins, who fended off a typically spirited Loughrea in Athenry.
While Larkins demonstrated real craft initially, it was the graft in the closing stages that denied a brave Loughrea fightback.
After the restart when trailing by seven, Loughrea's Oisin Coyle was red carded, but they battled until the end.
Through sheer determination, with Johnny Coen increasingly influential and Jamie Ryan sharp from frees, Loughrea narrowed the gap to the minimum.
Admirably Larkins stayed cool and composed with Conor Gardiner and Jason Flynn (two) mining the insurance scores late on.
The opening period supplied glimpses of Larkins’ considerable potential with Kevin McHugo a key figure.
Unsurprisingly tight initially Larkins made an enterprising burst midway through the half when reeling off 1-2 without reply to seize the initiative.
Eight points had been divided evenly in the first quarter, but then a fortuitous 16th minute goal altered the complexion dramatically.
Conor Gardiner’s long delivery caused panic in the Loughrea defence with the sliotar creeping over the line.
Subsequent points from the lively Ronan Murphy and Jason Flynn decorated an important burst with Larkins departing 1-9 to 0-6 ahead at the turnaround.
When the action recommenced Larkins stretched the advantage to seven, but Loughrea came thundering back.
Ultimately, though, Loughrea didn't have sufficient firepower up front and Larkins gleaned a vital victory in the rain.
Scorers for Tommy Larkins: Jason Flynn 0-8 (6fs), Conor Gardiner 1-2, Ronan Murphy 0-3, Kevin McHugo 0-2, Darren Duggan 0-1.:
Scorers for Loughrea: Jamie Ryan 0-9 (8fs, 1 sideline), Anthony Burns and Johnny Coen 0-2 each, Joseph Mooney and Neil Keary 0-1 (f) each.
TOMMY LARKINS: Eanna Murphy; Noel Gorman, Cathal Tuohey, Eoin Forde; Brian McCormack, Kevin McHugo, Conor Nevin; David Hickey, Colm Flynn; Ronan Murphy, Jason Flynn, Conor Gardiner; Eoghan Nevin, Darren Duggan, Conor Hanley.
Subs: Adrian Moran for Nevin (53), Adam Page for Hanley (58).
LOUGHREA: Gearoid Loughnane; Oisin Coyle, Johnny Coen, Eanna Rooney; Sean Sweeney, Paul Huban, Conor Jennings; Brian Keary, Emmet Mahoney; Jamie Ryan, Thomas Huban, Joseph Mooney; Shane O’Brien, Neil Keary, Anthony Burns.
Subs: Dylan Shaughnessy for Sweeney (19), Brian Mahoney for Emmet Mahoney (HT), Ian Hanrahan for O'Brien (HT), Caimin Killeen for Jennings (37), Emmet Mahoney for B Keary (50).
REFEREE: John McDonagh.