Clonguish Gaels booked their place in the Longford Senior Hurling Championship Final by recording their second group win with five points to spare, 2-11 to 1-9, over reigning champions Wolfe Tones last Saturday evening in Michael Fay Park.
Longford Senior Hurling Championship: Clonguish Gaels 2-11 Wolfe Tones 1-9
In round one, Clonguish Gaels, who haven’t won the title since 2012, scraped to a narrow 1-10 to 1-9 victory over Longford Slashers, so with a 100% they are safely through to the final.
Following this loss, reigning champions Wolfe Tones must defeat Longford Slashers in their next game if they are to remain on course of a seventh county title in a row.
The foundations for this victory were laid in the first half with a fine performance by Clonguish Gaels and they held an eight point lead going in at the interval: 1-7 to 0-2. That goal scored by Paul Barden Jnr in the sixth minute.
Their second goal was scored by Joe O’Brien in the 48th minute and it was a crucial strike as Wolfe Tones were rallying and they had cut the gap to just three points. O’Brien’s goal provided Clonguish with the platform to drive on and secure their win.
A pointed free from John Newman in the second minute was the first score of the game. Wolfe Tones’ lead only lasted four minutes when in the sixth minute Paul Barden Jnr pulled on the ball in crowded area and it ended up in the back of the net.
Clonguish added to their score with two points from Bart Hanley (one free) and a point apiece from Joe O’Brien and Daniel Gregg to extend their lead to six points, 1-4 to 0-1, by the 15th minute.
Daniel Connell replied with a much needed point for Wolfe Tones in the 16th minute but that was to be their last score of the first half.
Clonguish with Joe O’Brien, Bart Hanley and Paul Barden Jnr leading the line in a fine team performance hit over three points before the break. Hanley with two frees and a good score from Barden. Half-time: Clonguish Gaels 1-7 Wolfe Tones 0-2.
Wolfe Tones made a great start to the second half and within two minutes in they fired in a goal through substitute Michael Keating. Seamus Hannon and Evan Tully hit over points as the Edgeworthstown side cut the gap to three by the 39th minute, 1-7 to 1-4.
After a sluggish start to the second half Clonguish’s first score of the half came in the 48th minute when Joe O’Brien found the back of the net to put his side ahead by six points, 2-7 to 1-4, and stem Wolfe Tones comeback.
O’Brien added a converted free minutes later. Wolfe Tones replied with points from Brendan Stakem (free) and Paddy Cullen before O’Brien was on target again with another free. Wolfe Tones though kept with Clonguish Gaels with Newman (free) and Michael Keating firing over points, 2-9 to 1-8.
The ever dependable Joe O’Brien was accurate from frees and he punished Wolfe Tones’ fouls by hitting over two points near the end.
Wolfe Tones substitute Daire Duggan fired over the final point of the game in stoppage time as the champions fell to a defeat and now face Slashers, last champions in 2001, in what is effectively a semi-final.
CLONGUISH GAELS: Eanna Daly; Paul Hession, Paul Barden Jnr (1-1), Brian Gordon; Bart Hanley (0-4, 0-3 frees), Alan Sorohan, Gerard Moore; Patrick Corcoran; Stephen Gregg, Joe O’Brien (1-5, 0-4 frees), Derry Crossan, Eugene Kiernan; Neil O’Connor, David Gregg (0-1), Ciaran Corcoran.
Sub: Brendan Burke for D Crossan (10 mins)
WOLFE TONES: Andy Kelly; Cian McLoughlin, Thomas Stakem, Ciaran Fahy; Kevin Shine, Brendan Stakem (0-1 free), Paddy Cullen (0-1); Thomas Doyle, Seamus Hannon (0-1); Evan Tully (0-1), Daniel Connell (0-1), John Newman (0-2 frees); Michael Hussey, Luke Kelly, Maitiu Donoghue.
Subs: Michael Keating (1-1) for K Shine and Daire Duggan (0-1) for L Kelly (half-time)
REFEREE: Ciaran Groome (Offaly)