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Kilcormac/Killoughey hold firm to lift Offaly title

St Rynagh’s launch memorable comeback but Kilcormac/Killoughey hang on

Kilcormac/Killoughey’s Ciaran Slevin gets his shot away under pressure from Niall Wynne. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Kilcormac/Killoughey 2-16 St Rynagh’s 1-16

Kilcormac/Killoughey returned to the summit in Offaly hurling with a nerve-tingling win over never-say-die St Rynagh’s in O’Connor Park on Sunday.

Ahead 2-13 to 0-8 with 16 minutes to go, Kilcormac/Killoughey looked to have more than enough done to win but were forced to mount a ferocious rearguard action in the closing quarter.

With the wind on their backs, St Rynagh’s came storming back and at one stage seemed set to complete a heroic comeback. They scored three points on the trot before an opportunist goal from substitute Joe O’Connor made it 2-13 to 1-11 with 10 minutes remaining.

A fine Stephen Leonard point settled Kilcormac/Killoughey briefly but the holders continued swarming forward in numbers, forcing them to enter into desperate defending.

The losers got four points without reply to make it a two-point game with three minutes left. Out on their feet, however, Kilcormac/Killoughey defended heroically with Damien Kilmartin and the outstanding Killian Leonard answering the most searching of questions. A brilliant point from Dan Currams, a surprise return from a broken arm, restored the three point gap.

Stephen Quirke and Ciaran Slevin exchanged late frees as Kilcormac/Killoughey held on for a dramatic but ultimately deserved win.

They had laid a powerful foundation when playing with a strong wind in the first half. It was tit-for-tat in the opening quarter and Kilcormac/Killoughey led by 0-4 to 0-3 after 14 minutes. A goal from man of the match Slevin put them 1-4 to 0-3 ahead in the 15th minute and Kilcormac/Killoughey went on to play their best hurling.

Thomas Geraghty added a second goal five minutes later and St Rynagh’s had no answer to the winners’ physical approach. They led by 2-10 to 0-5 at half time which in the end proved a sufficient cushion.

Kilcormac/Killoughey: Conor Slevin; K Leonard, G Healion, K Grogan; E Grogan (0-1), D Kilmartin, J Quinn; C Kiely (0-1, 1f), Ciaran Slevin (1-7, 5f); J Gorman (0-1), C Mahon, P Geraghty; S Leonard (0-1), P Healion (0-1), T Geraghty (1-1). Subs: D Currams (0-3) for P Geraghty (20 mins), B Leonard for P Healion (52 mins), O Mahon for E Grogan (56 mins).

St Rynagh’s: C Clancy; D Maloney, D Shortt, N Wynne; C Hernon, A Treacy (0-4, 3f and 1 ‘65’), B Conneely; G Kelly, P Camon; G Scales (0-1), G Conneely, M Maloney; S Quirke (0-7, 6f), S Dolan (0-3), S Wynne. Subs: J O’Connor (1-0) for Scales (37 mins), R Hughes (0-1) for Maloney (39 mins).

Referee: R Fitzsimons