Tourlestrane 2-12 Coolera-Strandhill 0-7
Tourlestrane are Sligo SFC champions for an incredible sixth successive campaign thanks to an ultimately powerful dismissal of Coolera-Strandhill, winning by 11 points at Markievicz Park.
John Kelly’s goal in stoppage-time added further gloss to the winners’ dominant second period and it was the player who set up that score, James Leonard, who put Tourlestrane on course for victory when he goaled after 44th minutes.
That polished goal – from team captain Gary Gaughan’s pass – was the fifth unanswered score from Tourlestrane in a devastating 14-minute spell following the restart that turned matters in their favour.
At half-time another Tourlestrane victory was doubtful, despite them being unbeaten in this competition for the past five years.
Midway through this final it was Coolera-Strandhill who were in front, albeit marginally, 0-4 to 0-3, having had the better of the opening period’s scrappy proceedings.
The championship’s top scorer, Niall Murphy, kicked two of Coolera-Strandhill’s first-half points and there were also fine promptings from defender Ross O’Carroll, the former Dublin player.
But Coolera-Strandhill, without a county title since 2005 and beaten by Tourlestrane two years ago when they met in the final, will have rued poor shooting in that first half as they kicked six wides.
Tourlestrane, who took 13 minutes to open their account through Brian Egan – five minutes after Coolera-Strandhill’s first score, a pointed mark by Seán Taylor – were curbed for much of the opening period.
They conceded the last two points of the half, going from 0-3 to 0-2 ahead to 0-4 to 0-3 behind.
With matters so finely balanced, it was there for either side to push on but Tourlestrane, with the greater winning experience, did so – shooting 1-4 without reply to win the club’s 17th title.
Kenny Gavigan, Liam Gaughan, who scored 0-4 in all, John Kelly and Cian Surlis each pointed during this crucial phase for Tourlestrane.
The champions, with a new manager at the helm for this year in Kevin Johnson, who won two Mayo SFC titles with Ballintubber, had too much for Coolera-Strandhill, who sought consolation goals at the end but only got consolation points from Niall Murphy and Barry O’Mahony.
The beaten finalists, who only scored 0-3 in the second half, finished with 14 players because of a second booking for Kevin Banks, the intercounty hurler.
Tourlestrane defender Noel Gaughan, brother of team captain Gary, was named player of the match.
TOURLESTRANE: A Broe; JF Carr, B Walsh, N Gaughan; O Kennedy, A McIntyre, C Surlis (0-2); C Marren (0-1), C Henry; K Gavigan (0-1), J Kelly (1-1), J Leonard (1-0); L Gaughan (0-4, two frees), G Gaughan, B Egan (0-2, two frees).
Subs: K O'Hara for O Kennedy (47), P Harte for C Henry (52), S Henry for G Gaughan (55), R Bailey (0-1) for B Egan (57), N Durkin for K Gavigan (60+4).
COOLERA-STRANDHILL: K Harte; J Cassidy, R O'Carroll, T Gilligan; S Murphy, S Taylor (0-1, mark), A O'Boyle (0-1); K Banks (0-1), P Laffey; L Doherty, D Flynn, K Cawley; N Murphy (0-3, one free), B O'Mahony (0-1), C Parke.
Subs: O McDonagh for D Flynn (h/t), A Higgins for C Parke (37), F Staunton for R O'Carroll (46), C Burke for L Doherty (51), G Cawley for T Gilligan (58).
Referee: Ronan Hynes (St Farnan's).