Kiladangan oust champions in dramatic finish

Thursday, 3 May 2018

IT'S BEEN a while since a North Tipperary Senior Hurling championship game produced such a dramatic finish as this one did but Kiladangan left the best wine till last when they score 1-2 in the last four minutes of action (including three of added time) to dethrone the North Champions Borris-Ileigh and win by two points.
Having been outhurled for most of the second half, Kiladangan had a stroke of good fortune in turning this game around when Darragh Egan was at the end of a Willie Connors free which came back off the upright before the full forward - who had just come on three minutes earlier - slammed the ball tennis style past a helpless Jack Bourke to bring the 2016 champions level 3-10 to 1-16. Suddenly the pendulum had swung Kiladangan's way and with it they swamped Borris-Ileigh with more scores as Willie Connors and Tadgh Gallagher engineered two quick points for a win their followers could hardly believe was happening before their very eyes.
The game drew a very large attendance for what was the showpiece of the year so far in the division. However it took a while for the game to ignite as the first half produced a tense close marking affair but Borris-Ileigh looked to be the better side but their risk taking in shoot for points from all angles resulted in nine first half wides.
Kiladangan took the lead twice in the opening seven minutes with Borris-Ileigh responding each time as Bryan McLoughney and Alan Flynn (with a beauty) scored for the challengers while Matthew Stapleton and Conor Kenny were on target for the holders.
A Willie Connors free and another McLoughney point from play gave Kiladangan a two point cushion but two Brendan Maher frees brought equilibrium by the 16th minute.
Brendan Maher was the Borris-Ileigh anchor man at centre back with Ciaran Cowan and Seamus Bourke prominent on the wings and in the 17th minute Bourke went soloing into the opposition half, drew the Kiladangan cover and supplied possession for Dan McCormack to give Borris the lead for the first time. The lead doubled when another run, this time by Liam Ryan giving Kieran Maher space to score. A Tadgh Gallagher score in the 21st minute reduced the deficit and after both sides squandered chances, Kiladangan took the initiative with a Billy Seymour goal in the 28th minute. A brilliant point by Tadgh Gallagher followed and Kiladangan led 1-6 to 0-6 at half time.
The goal appeared to give Kiladangan assurance and they continued with early second half pressure topped by a Tadgh Gallagher point three minutes in. Two minutes later another attack found Paul Flynn's effort for a point drop short on the edge of the small square before Bryan McLoughney outsmarted his marker by steering the high ball down towards his feet before sending a ground stroke to the net.
At seven points ahead one could feel confident of a Kiladangan win but from the resulting puckout, Boris-Ileigh hit the ground running with Kieran Maher pointing from the left wing. A foul on Ray McCormack allowed Conor Kenny convert from close in but Paul Flynn replied for Kiladangan with assistance from Tadgh Gallagher. However further evidence of a Borris-Ileigh revival continued and despite shooting three wides in a row (they reached a tally of 14 by the end) they found the target again through a Dan McCormack angled point thanks to help from his brother Sean in a move also involving Conor Kenny.
The maroon wave continued to trouble Kiladangan and two Brendan Maher frees either side of a Dan McCormack score brought them within two of the leaders. Then in the 50th minute Liam Ryan - who was now part of a two man full forward line - gathered possession ahead of a close marking James Quigley. Ryan went for a point from a difficult angle but his mishit shot drifted over the head of Barry Hogan and into the net for the lead.
Another Maher free and Conor Kenny from play moved Borris three clear. However, two Willie Connors frees reduced the margin to one as Kiladangan tried to stay close with five minutes remaining. Yet Borris came again as two more Maher frees helped them regain their three point lead. They had two minutes on the clock to hold out but such is the game of hurling that anything can happen.
And it did in the 59th minute when Dan McCormack was penalised for over-carrying, a decision that was questioned by the Borris Ileigh dugout close by. At any rate when Willie Connors stood over the free a point seemed on the cards. He did as expected but his high shot came back off the upright and fell in front of an alert Darragh Egan who was closest to it and he pounced first time to the net. The teams were level. Now the pendulum had swung back in Kiladangan's favour but they had to withstand some Borris pressure in the closing stages but Darren Moran, Joe Gallagher, James Quigley and Alan Flynn held firm and with ever growing confidence they made their opportunities count at the other end as Willie Connors and Tadgh Gallagher added a point each to seal a semi final place against Nenagh Eire Og.
SCORERS: Kiladangan; B McLoughney (1-2); W Connors (0-4, 0-3f); T Gallagher (0-4); B Seymour and D Egan (1-0 each); A Flynn and P Flynn (0-1 each).
Borris-Ileigh; B Maher (0-6, f); L Ryan (1-1); D McCormack (0-3); C Kenny (0-3, 0-2f); M Stapleton, K Maher and J Kelly (0-1 each).
KILADANGAN: Barry Hogan; James Quigley, Darren Moran, Johnny Horan; Declan McGrath, Joe Gallagher, Alan Flynn; Martin Minehan, Andy Loughnane; Tadgh Gallagher, Ciaran Kelly, Paul Flynn; Willie Connors, Billy Seymour, Bryan McLoughney.Subs: Dan O'Meara (for B Seymour, 48 mins); Darragh Egan (for C Kelly, 53 mins); Jack Loughnane (for B McLoughney, blood, 63 mins).
BORRIS-ILEIGH: Jack Bourke; Thomas Fahy, Paddy Stapleton (Capt), Vincent Stapleton; Seamus Burke, Brendan Maher, Ciaran Cowan; Liam Ryan, Sean McCormack; Jerry Kelly, Shane Kenny, Dan McCormack; Jack Hogan, Ray McCormack, Matthew Stapleton. Subs: Jerry Kelly (for M Stapleton, 27 mins, inj); Aaron Rabbitte (for V Stapleton, half time).
REFEREE: Philip Kelly (Ballinahinch).


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