Birr rewrite history books with fourth All-Ireland

 

Birr 1-19 Dunloy 0-11

Birr retained their All-Ireland hurling title after defeating Dunloy of Antrim by double scores at Croke Park this afternoon.

The Offaly side - whose manager Pad Joe Whelahan was forced to watch from the stands following a GAC imposed touchline ban - also created history by becoming the first club side to win four All-Ireland hurling titles.

Birr outclassed their opponents throughout and led by four points to one after just nine minutes. Midfielder Rory Hannify and brother Gary combined well going forward and reeked havoc among the Dunloy defenders.

But despite dominating possession and hurling better, Birr found it difficult to pull away from their dogged opponents.

Sturdy defending from Dunloy duo Damien McMullan and Gary O'Kane went along way to keeping just five scores between the sides at the break (0-8 to 0-3).

Dunloy varied their tactics after the restart and attacked Birr down the middle with low, ground play. Half forward Gregory O'Kane - Dunloy's most prolific scorer on the day- capitalised most and smacked over early scores.

But for every Dunloy score, Birr replied with interest.

In a frantic ten minute spell both sides matched each other score for score. O'Kane, Curry and Elliot kept Dunloy in the hunt but Birr maintained their advantage with a splatter of scores - mostly through the brilliant free taking ability of Simon Whelahan.

By the time Rory Hannify and Paul Molly pointed with 15 minutes to play, Birr were comfortably in control and led by seven points. Declan Pilkington's goal two minutes later killed what was left of a Dunloy challenge and secured a historic win for the Offaly men.