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Kilmaley disappointed as Smith O’Briens are final-bound

The sequence of events that followed Smith O'Brien's late goal. Photographs by John Kelly

Smith O’Brien’s 2-10
Kilmaley 2-8

SMITH O’Brien’s will contest the U-21B hurling championship final this Saturday after this two-point win over Kilmaley in Saturday’s replay at Tulla but the losers left Dr Daly Park disappointed and angry.
A controversial finish saw the Killaloe side snatch victory with a hotly disputed goal in the second minute of injury time. Kilmaley wing-forward Michael O’Neill was shown a straight red card after the final whistle having made his views known to the match official, Damian Fox whose report is expected to be with the board this week.
O’Neill put his side into the lead in the first minute of added time and it looked like this score would see his side back in the final for a second successive year.
From the puck-out, Smith O’Briens were awarded a free from their own half-back line. With the wind helping, Kevin Walsh’s drive dropped into a fairly crowded Kilmaley goalmouth. As goalkeeper Bryan O’Loughlin appeared to be coming away with the ball, the umpire reached for the green flag and Killaloe supporters jumped for joy. The final whistle followed the puck-out and Kilmaley’s dream was shattered.
The losers argued that the ball never crossed the goal line and that there were Smith O’Brien’s attackers in the square before the ball arrived but Smith O’Brien’s have a different view of what happened.
Corner-forward Micheál Ryan claimed the goal saying that he added to Walsh’s free.
The first half was dominated by the South East Clare side who should have been much more that 0-7 to 1-2 in front at the interval. They played some excellent hurling in that first period when Liam Walsh scored some lovely points. All of Kilmaley’s first-half tally came from Dara Keane with the goal being their only score from play in this period.
With wind advantage to come, things looked good for the winners at this stage and when they had the opening score of the second half, a Liam Walsh point inside a minute, their followers must have felt that they would record a comfortable win.
However, Kilmaley had other ideas and with the help of some positional switches they came storming back.
A Shane Darcy goal gave them a two-point lead as the game neared the three-quarter stage and this was still the position as the game entered the last 10 minutes. A somewhat fortunate goal from Keith Stritch, who kicked the ball to the net, brought Smith O’Brien’s back into contention. From here on, extra time looked likely as the teams swapped points twice to leave the score level at 1-10 to 2-7 after an hour’s play.
Kilmaley looked to have snatched victory with O’Neill’s point but Smith O’Briens had the final say.

Smith O’Brien’s: Mark Stritch; Noel Howard, Mark McInerney, Kevin McEvoy; Aidan McKeogh, Brian McInerney, Luke Hession; Pat Vaughan, Kevin Walsh; Liam Walsh, Dean Synott, Keith Stritch; Micheál Ryan, Eoin Ryan, Mark O’Halloran.
Sub: Cian Moloney for E Ryan.
Scorers: Liam Walsh (0-7), 4 frees; Michael Ryan (1-0), Keith Stritch (1-0), Kevin Walsh (0-2), Mark O’Halloran 0-1).

Kilmaley: Bryan O’Loughlin; Martin O’Connor, Noel Casey, Stephen Griffey; Colin McGuane, Stephen McNamara, Eoin Fitzgerald; Enda Finnucane, Niall McGuane; Michael O’Neill, Jack Fitzgerald, Eoin Enright; Dara Keane, John Cabey, Shane Darcy.
Subs: Killian McNamara for Cabey; Paul Kennedy for Enright; Michael Pyne for Finucane.
Scorers: Dara Keane (1-5), 0-5 frees; Shane Darcy (1-1) Jack Fitzgerald, Michael O’Neill (0-1) each.

Referee: Damian Fox.


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