St. Rynagh's manager Ken Hogan slides in celebration after his side's win over Coolderry this afternoon.
St. Rynagh's manager Ken Hogan slides in celebration after his side's win over Coolderry this afternoon.

Offaly SHC Final: Quirke strikes late to secure three-in-a-row

Molloy Environmental Systems Offaly SHC Final


Kevin Egan at Bord na Móna O’Connor Park

St. Rynagh’s clinched their third Offaly senior championship in a row in the most dramatic circumstances imaginable this afternoon at Bord Na Móna O’Connor Park, when Stephen Quirke’s first-time pull deep in stoppage time gave them a two-point victory over a Coolderry side that was the better team for long stretches of the contest.

The reigning champions exploded out of the blocks with the breeze behind them, with Aaron Kenny, Garry Conneely and Aidan Treacy all on the mark from play inside the first five minutes. Coolderry settled from there however and with David King and Gearóid McCormack leading the way from the half-back line, they gradually worked their way back into it to draw level by the 19th minute. Brian Carroll was off the mark with some early shots but an inspirational score from King, struck from his own half into the breeze, suggested that Coolderry were right in contention in what was their first county final appearance in three years.

A clever Seán Dolan flick set up Luke O’Connor for a St. Rynagh’s point in between two frees for the Banagher-based club, but 0-6 to 0-4 at half-time looked like a narrow lead considering the breeze, and Coolderry’s incredible track record in county finals, with four wins from four appearances since 2010.

Sure enough, experience and know-how started to come to the fore for the South Offaly village. Kevin Connolly struggled to get any clean possession in the opening half but he kicked off his second half performance with a wonderful point from out on the right wing, the first of three points for the full forward. Brian Carroll started to make more headway in his one-on-one battle with county captain Ben Conneely, and when veteran Kevin Brady came off the bench to win a puckout and set up Connolly for a point to make it 0-11 to 0-8 with five minutes to play, it seemed like Coolderry were set fair for victory.

However while the fare up to that point had been uninspiring, the contest exploded into life from then on. Ciarán Flannery flashed a shot for goal wide of the target before Seán Dolan set up Stephen Quirke for a point, with Paul Quirke following up to cut the gap to the bare minimum. Coolderry had a glorious chance to give themselves a commanding lead when Kevin Brady fed the ball across to David Tooher with the keeper beaten, but an incredible hook from Ben Conneely saved what looked like a certain goal.

St. Rynagh’s charged down the field and Paul Quirke had a chance to level the game, only to be repelled by a stunning block from Gearóid McCormack, which in turn led to another wonderful Brian Carroll score, his sixth of the afternoon.

Down the other end we went for a goal chance for Aidan Treacy, with Trevor Corcoran – who along with Carroll and Kevin Brady, was also on the field 17 years ago when Coolderry beat Birr in the 2004 decider, their first senior title in 18 years.

Treacy pointed the 65 and one more St. Rynagh’s attack led to Ciarán Flannery driving at goal, a loose ball breaking in the Coolderry square, and a flash of the hurl from Stephen Quirke that completely changed the result of this dramatic final.

Scorers for St. Rynagh’s: Aidan Treacy 0-5 (0-1f, 0-1 65), Stephen Quirke 1-1, Luke O’Connor 0-2 (0-1f), Aaron Kenny, Garry Conneely and Paul Quirke 0-1 each.

Scorers for Coolderry: Brian Carroll 0-6 (0-3f), Kevin Connolly 0-3, Eoin Ryan 0-2, David King 0-1.

St. Rynagh’s: Conor Clancy; Pat Camon, Stephen Wynne, Conor Hernon; Matthew Maloney, Ben Conneely, Dermot Shortt; Joseph O’Connor, Ronan Hughes; Aidan Treacy, Seán Dolan, Garry Conneely; Aaron Kenny, Luke O’Connor, Stephen Quirke.

Subs: Niall Wynne for L O’Connor (39), Paul Quirke for Hughes (42), Diarmuid Horan for G Conneely (45), Ciarán Flannery for Kenny (50).

Coolderry: Stephen Corcoran; Trevor Corcoran, Stephen Connolly, Stephen Burke; Conor Molloy, David King, Gearóid McCormack; William Malone, Shane Ryan; Eoin Ryan, Brian Carroll, Eoghan Parlon; Daniel Miller, Kevin Connolly, Cian Burke.

Subs: David Tooher for Miller (38), Kevin Brady for C Burke (47), Mark Bergin for Ryan (57), David Connolly for Malone (60).

Referee: Kieran Dooley (Drumcullen)