8 °CMon, 10

Coolderry in dreamland as Kilcormac/Killoughey dethroned

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kevin@tullamoretribune.ie

Title number 31 and one of the sweetest yet for Coolderry as they silenced all their doubters to land the Offaly senior hurling title on Sunday.

Sitting head and shoulders above the rest on the roll of honour, many thought they would struggle this year but under the guidance of the great Joachim Kelly, they proved their doubters wrong to go unbeaten through the championship and win the final by six points on Sunday.

While a late Joe Brady goal pushed out the winning margin, there can be no arguments that the best team won. They were more clinical and their intensity and desire was exemplary.

Kilcormac/Killoughey were never out of the game but instead it slowly and gradually slipped away from them as the second half wore on.

The final stages saw them get it back to one point but in non typical K/K form, they seemed to lose their composure and start to over hit long balls and all round lose their confidence that had served them so well in recent years.

Kevin Connolly's goal four minutes before half time was a key score. Playing with the wind, they needed a bit of a lead at half time both for obvious reasons but mentally as well.

Speaking after the game, Coolderry manager Joachim Kelly mentioned that they talked at half time about not letting K/K eat into their arrears in the early stages of the second half and not only did they not allow that to happen but they tagged on two more points to give themselves a six point cushion with 25 minutes to go.

That spell was crucial and it put K/K back another few steps as Coolderry smelled the finish line. The had leaders all over the field. Stephen Corcoran played through the pain barrier in goals while the full back line held up to a lot of pressure, especially in the second half.

Barry Teehan and Kevin Brady ruled the roost in the half back line while Kevin Connolly and Brian Carroll shone up front.

Outside of their star performers, everyone to a man left every ounce on the field and played their part.

To be fair to K/K, it wasn't from a lack of effort or heart that they lost the final. Ger Healion had a powerful game at full back while Killian Leonard's battle with Brian Carroll was one the battles of the afternoon.

Dylan Murray was the pick of the midfielders on view while Conor Mahon led the forward charge.

Kevin Connolly had been the form forward in the championship and he continued that form by pointing the first score of the game after just 20 seconds as Coolderry set out their stall.

K/K were playing against the stiff breeze but that didn't stop them taking over the lead by the sixth minute as points from Ciaran Slevin (free) and one of the points of the day from Dylan Murray gave them a slight advantage.

Coolderry settled more into the game and found their rhythm easier with frees from Brian Carroll (two) and a long range missile from Stephen Corcoran put them 0-4 to 0-2 in front midway through the half.

K/K ended a nine minute scoreless spell with the next attack when Dan Currams pointed but they were lucky not to fall further behind shortly after when Kevin Connolly's shot from point blank range was sensationally saved by Conor Slevin.

Brian Carroll did rescue a '65' from the situation to keep their noses in front.

With five minutes to go in the half, the sides were level and K/K looked in good shape with the wind to come in the second half.

Cillian Kiely even put them in front 0-7 to 0-6 with a hard worked score but with the next attack on 26 minutes, Kevin Connolly took a pass from Martin Corcoran and despite being under pressure, got his shot away and sent it beyond Conor Slevin. Conor Molloy added a quick fire point and Coolderry were suddenly 1-7 to 0-7 in front.

Kiely replied with another fine score but points from Martin Corcoran and Brian Carroll left the score 1-9 to 0-8 coming up to half time.

K/K had a half chance of a goal just before the break but Thomas Geraghty just couldn't get his hurl to the a Cillian Kiely sideline cut that flew wide.

The score remained the same until the break and the Coolderry men went in with a four point lead.

Within two minutes of the restart, Brian Carroll had Coolderry six points up with a point from a free and another from play.

Ciaran Slevin got K/K's opening point in the second half from a free on 36 minutes but they were finding it hard to claw into the deficit.

Points from Conor Mahon and Dylan Murray brought it back to 1-12 to 0-11 on 40 minutes but Carroll landed another free a minute later to keep Coolderry ticking over.

K/K came with another push with points from Thomas Geraghty and another Slevin free to make it 1-13 to 0-13 but once again, Coolderry responded, this time through Kevin Connolly who pointed from a tight angle.

As the game went into the last 15 minutes, Kevin Brady and James Gorman traded scores while a Slevin free eight minutes from time narrowed it back down to two points with Coolderry leading 1-15 to 0-16.

With plenty of atmosphere and tension in the air, K/K pushed even closer and got it back to a one point game but with a minute to go, Carroll fired over his ninth point to put two between them again.

A dangerous lead, Coolderry put the game to bed a minute later when Eoghan Parlon ran through and although he lost possession, the ball sat up for him and Joe Brady with Brady looking like the one to double on the ball to the net.

A 10th point for Brian Carroll in injury time left it a six point game in the end as Coolderry rejoiced.

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