Gort end their long wait in style

 

GALWAY SHC FINAL: Gort 0-17 Clarinbridge 1-12GORT CAPTURED their their sixth county senior hurling title, and first since 1983, with a deserved success in front of a crowd of almost 9,000 at Pearse Stadium yesterday.

The reigning All-Ireland club champions Clarinbridge rarely got into their stride after a hectic schedule, but yet they were in contention right up to the end after recovering from a poor start.

Indeed, it seemed that the Galway final was heading for a replay for the second year in a row, but Gort came with a late surge which saw captain Andy Coen edge them in front with a long-range free in stoppage-time before Aidan Harte added another to seal the win.

It was apparent that Clarinbridge were going to require one of their famed comebacks again after falling 0-6 to 0-1 behind after 12 minutes.

Gort did all the early hurling in a game played in perfect conditions at Salthill, with Gerry Quinn hitting four points, three of them frees, after Seán Forde had found the target in just 30 seconds for a fired-up Gort side.

Harte got the first of his five points and when Shane Burke added to Mark Kerins’ opening free for the champions, Gort again pushed on with Quinn and veteran Ollie Fahy hitting points for them to lead 0-8 to 0-2 after 21 minutes.

Clarinbridge’s attack was making little headway against a solid Gort defence, but Mark Kerins kept the holders in touch with a brace of frees before Harte got his second point.

However, Clarinbridge finished the half strongly and trailed by 0-9 to 0-6 at the break after Mark Kerins landed a 65 and then a free from close range.

Quinn and Kerins exchanged points after the restart, but Gort pushed on with Gerard O’Donoghue and Quinn finding the target to open up a 0-12 to 0-7 lead after 36 minutes.

But two points from play from Alan Kerins suddenly left just a goal between them going into the final quarter. And then Clarinbridge struck for the equaliser, Billy Lane finishing to the net after Gort goalkeeper Peter Cummins had stopped an Eoin Forde effort from going over the bar. That levelled the match at 1-11 to 0-14.

Clarinbridge, who were reduced to 14 men when Eoin Forde got a second yellow card after 50 minutes, must have had big hopes of retaining their crown when Stephen Forde edged them in front with four minutes left.

However, Gort hit back. Harte levelled with a free a minute from the end of normal time and then skipper Coen landed a free from 70 yards before Harte made the game save with his fifth point in the dying moments.

The victory crowned a glorious year for All-Ireland minor winning manager, Matt Murphy, who was corner forward on the Gort team which won in ’83.

GORT: P Cummins; M Cummins, M McMahon, A Coen (0-1, one free); G Lally, B Regan, J Grealish; S Og Linnane; S Forde (0-1); G Quinn (0-7, six frees), A Harte (0-5, two frees), P Killilea; R Cummins, O Fahy (0-1), G O’Donoghue (0-2). Subs: M Nestor for Quinn (44 mins), A Mullins for Forde (54 mins),; K Finnegan for P Cummins (54).

CLARINBRIDGE: L Donoghue; B Burke, C Forde, P Callanan; J Cannon, D Forde, M Donoghue; B Daly, S Burke (0-2); S Forde (0-1), M Kerins (0-7, six frees, one 65), E Murphy; E Forde, A Kerins (0-2); P Coen. Sub: B Lane (1-0) for Murphy, 30.

Referee: A Kelly (Rahoon-Newcastle).