Shinrone manager and former Kilcormac-Killoughey player Trevor Fletcher celebrates with his players after their side's victory in the Offaly SHC final this afternoon in Tullamore.
Shinrone manager and former Kilcormac-Killoughey player Trevor Fletcher celebrates with his players after their side's victory in the Offaly SHC final this afternoon in Tullamore.

Offaly SHC Final: Shinrone break new ground

Molloy Environmental Systems Offaly SHC Final

Shinrone 0-26 Kilcormac-Killoughey 2-13

Kevin Egan at O'Connor Park

The pain of nearly 140 years was washed away in rapturous scenes of celebration at the end of this afternoon’s Offaly senior hurling championship final in O'Connor Park as Shinrone held on to record a fully-deserved 0-26 to 2-13 victory over Kilcormac-Killoughey.

As one of the very first wave of clubs affiliated to Central Council, hurling has been central to the community of Shinrone since the 19th century, but until today, success in the Offaly senior championship eluded them. Their one final appearance in 1960 ended in a heartbreaking one-point defeat and today, it felt like all that raw emotion was on display as the club produced a scintillating performance to overturn Kilcormac-Killoughey.

Kilcormac-Killoughey themselves were first time champions in 2012, with many of those players still involved today. One of them however, had a very different agenda – Shinrone manager Trevor Fletcher.

Like most of the club’s supporters, part of an attendance of just under 6,000, Fletcher watched nervously as his former club got out to a fast start, firing over three points inside the first three minutes. It was 0-5 to 0-2 ten minutes later, but Kilcormac-Killoughey could have been out of sight at that stage, having passed up two glorious goal chances and missed the target with several other opportunities.

Instead of taking advantage of their opponents’ nerves, Kilcormac-Killoughey let the underdogs stay in the game, and inspired by their full forward and man of the match Ciarán Cleary, the men in red rallied to lead by 0-10 to 0-8 at the interval. By now, the favourites had 12 wides on the board and would have wondered how they didn’t lead.

Shinrone’s hope transformed itself into real and genuine belief in the third quarter, as they responded to a Cathal Kiely free by scoring six points in a row and taking firm control of the tie.

County colleagues and brothers Killian and Jason Sampson came into the game in fine style, Shinrone’s youth and energy shone through as they exerted huge pressure on Kilcormac-Killoughey in every corner of the field, and 0-16 to 0-9 became 0-20 to 0-12 going into the last ten minutes. Veteran Ger Healion’s 52nd minute goal might have led to a shift in momentum in previous years, but this Shinrone team – who came into 2022 having lost their last nine knockout championship matches – is made from different stuff.

Jason Sampson and Conor Doughan got the next two points, Eamon Cleary made a spectacular double save from Charlie Mitchell in the 54th minute, and while Cillian Kiely fired the resultant 65 over the bar, Killian Sampson and Donal Morkan pressed home Shinrone’s advantage with the next two points.

Another goal, this time from Cillian Kiely right on the hour mark, cut the gap to five points, but even that didn’t curtail Shinrone’s momentum as they struck the last two points to wrap up a victory that will be celebrated long into the night, week, month, and possibly for years to come.

Scorers for Shinrone: Donal Morkan 0-7 (0-4f, 0-1 65), Ciaran Cleary 0-5, Killian Sampson 0-4, Jason Sampson 0-4, Sean Cleary 0-2, Declan Cleary 0-1, Paul Cleary 0-1, Conor Doughan 0-1, DJ McLoughlin 0-1.

Scorers for Kilcormac-Killoughey: Cathal Kiely 0-7 (0-4f, 0-1 sideline), Cillian Kiely 1-1 (0-1 65), Ger Healion 1-0, Alan Spain 0-1, Conor Mahon 0-1, James Kilmartin 0-1, Lochlann Kavanagh 0-1, Charlie Mitchell 0-1.

SHINRONE: Eamon Cleary; Darren Crean, Darren O'Meara, Peter Cleary; Killian Sampson, Michael Cleary, Dara Maher; Declan Cleary, Luke Watkins; Donal Morkan, Sean Cleary, Adrian Cleary; Paul Cleary, Ciaran Cleary, Jason Sampson.

Subs: Conor Doughan for A Cleary (47), Cillian Ryan for S Cleary (56), DJ McLoughlin for Paul Cleary (56), Mark Morkan for Declan Cleary (62).

KILCORMAC-KILLOUGHEY: Conor Slevin; Oisin Mahon, Enda Grogan, Tom Spain; Jordan Quinn, Damien Kilmartin, Alan Spain; Cillian Kiely, Colin Spain; Conor Mahon, James Kilmartin, Cathal Kiely; Alex Kavanagh, Ger Healion, Lochlann Kavanagh.

Subs: Jack Screeney for J Kilmartin (half-time), Charlie Mitchell for A Kavanagh (36), James Gorman for L Kavanagh (37), Thomas Geraghty for A Spain (38).

Referee: Shane Guinan