Corofin 3-11 Inagh-Kilnamona 1-13
TWO goals in the early minutes of the second half proved decisive as Corofin bridged a 29-year gap in capturing the junior A hurling championship title.
Inagh-Kilnamona will certainly rue the manner in which they conceded those goals but, overall, Corofin were the sharper side and deserved their first title at this level since 1980.
Inspired by a strong half-back line of Pa Ryan, Eoin and Darren Malone, they took an early grip on proceedings and were five points clear at half time, when the score was 1-7 to 0-5. Those early second half goals put the side nine points clear and Inagh-Kilnamona were always fighting an uphill battle after this.
Exchanges in the opening quarter suggested that this would be a very even contest. The sides were level on three occasions and after 18 minutes, the score stood at 0-4 each. With the defence very much on top, the winners drove on and a brace of points from Heagney gave them a two-point advantage before the young wing forward crashed a penalty to the net.
Inagh-Kilnamona were rocked inside the opening minute of the second half when slack defending was punished. A Heagney free dropped short and the unmarked Fiachra Daly shot to the net. It was a huge boost for the winners and a major blow to the homes of the Inagh-Kilnamona outfit.
There was more urgency about the losers at this stage and they hit back with points from Damian Shaughnessy before they were struck a huge blow. Goalkeeper Stephen Twomey came off his line to bat away the ball but it rebounded off a defender and into the net. It was a sickening blow and put nine points between the teams.
Three pointed frees by Shaughnessy cut the margin to six as the pace of the game stepped up. However Inagh-Kilnamona weren’t able to maintain this pressure and having closed the margin to six, they went 12 minutes without a score.
During that time, Stephen Heagney, the game’s top scorer, pointed twice for the winners to leave eight between them with 11 minutes to play.
A minute from the end of normal time, the losers were given a glimmer of hope when Joe Griffin goaled and they followed with points from Brian Hehir and Eugene Cullinan to leave one score, a goal, between the teams with the game now in the second minute of injury time.
They then conceded a needless free and Heagney found the target seconds before the final whistle sounded, leaving Corofin as deserving winners.
The winners’ defence was excellent throughout and gave few opportunities to their opponents. A haul of 1-7 in any game is impressive and Stephen Heagney’s contribution played a huge part in this victory on a day when Fiachra Daly was another to impress.
Thomas McConigley, Colm O’Rourke, Damian Lafferty, Enda McGuane Joe Griffin and Brian Hehir did best for Inagh-Kilnamona.
After the game, Clare GAA board treasurer Bernard Keane presented the trophy to the winning captain, Pat Ryan.
Corofin: Colm Linnane; Stephen Quinn, Tony McGann, Kevin Raftery; Pat Ryan, Eoin Malone, Darren Malone; Michael O’Dell, Diarmuid Daly; Stephen Heagney, David Daly, Fionn Clancy; Fiachra Daly, Eamonn Malone, Killian O’Loughlin;
Sub: Ronnie Meere for O’Loughlin (39 minutes).
Scorers: Stephen Heagney (1-7), 1-6 frees; Fiachra Daly (1-1); Pa Ryan, David Daly, Fionn Clancy (0-1) each; og (1-0).
Inagh-Kilnamona: Stephen Twomey; Brian Arthur, Thomas McConigley, Paul Gannon; Johnny Cullinan, Colm O’Rourke, Damian Lafferty; Enda McGuane, Brian Foudy; Seán McConigley, Sean Arthur, Damian Shaughnessy; Brian Hehir, Eugene Cullinan, Joe Griffin.
Subs: Paul Queally for S McConigley (38 minutes); Damian Hogan for S Arthur (54 minutes).
Scorers: Damian Shaughnessy (0-6), all frees; Joe Griffin (1-1); Brian Hehir (0-2, free); Enda McGuane (0-2, frees); Seán Arthur (0-1), Eugene Cullinan (0-1).
Referee: Jim Hickey, Cratloe.