O'Loughlin Gaels 3-10, Loughgiel Shamrocks 0-10
Kilkenny County Senior champions O’Loughlin Gaels booked their place in the showpiece AIB All-Ireland club hurling final in Croke Park on March 17th thanks to an excellent second half display which saw them register three goals in the final 20 minutes. They led by just three points at the end of a dogged first half, but stepped up the pace after the break and Peter Dowling, Danny Loughnane and Alan Geoghegan struck the goals that proved decisive.
O’Loughlins had a couple of goal chances early in the game, the best of which fell to Danny Loughnane, sent clear by Mark Bergin, but Damien 'DD' Quinn in the Loughgiel goal made a superb save.
The Kilkenny champions began the game well and opened up a 0-3 to 0-1 lead inside the opening five minutes with a couple of neat Bergin strikes, but they then went 17 minutes without scoring. Liam Watson and Eddie McCloskey registered ppints for the Ulster champions, but a late flourish saw Mark Bergin and Maurice Nolan hit points for a 0-5 to 0-3 interval lead.
The scoreline might have been very different at the break if Liam Watson had been successful when he went for goal from a 20-metre free but his effort was blocked
O’Loughlins raised the tempo on the resumption of play with scores from Niall McEvoy (2) and Loughnane immediately after the restart, one of Niall Mc Evoy’s efforts coming from a sideline cut. The decisive blow came in the 41st minute when Peter Dowling galloped through to hit a goal, netting at the second attempt after his initial effort was blocked down.. The Kilkenny champions now looked more comfortable, with Brian Hogan imposing himself on their defensive effort, but they had to withstand another Loughiel Shamrock spell, with Brendan McGarry, Joseph Scullion and Barney McAuley all striking points.
Danny Loughnane killed the game off 10 minutes from the end with his side's second goal, finishing from close range after the Loughgiel defence had failed to clear Stephen Murphy's long delivery.
Alan Geoghegan rifled home a third goal to secure Mick Nolan and Andy Comerford side's place in the St Patrick's Day showpiece in Croke Park
Scorers -- O'Loughlin Gaels: D Loughnane 1-1; P Dowling, A Geoghegan 1-0 each; M Bergin 0-3 (1f); M Nolan, N McEvoy 0-2 each; B Dowling, M Comerford 0-1 each. Loughgiel: L Watson 0-3 (2f); E McCloskey, B McAuley (1f) 0-2 each; B McGarry, J Scullion, A Watt 0-1 each.
O'Loughlin Gaels: S Murphy; B Kelly, B Murphy, E Kearns; A O'Brien, B Hogan, N Bergin; P Dowling, M Nolan; N McEvoy, M Bergin, A Geoghegan; B Dowling, M Comerford, D Loughnane. Subs: S Cummins for Dowling, C Bergin for Geoghegan, E Grant for B Murphy.
Loughgiel Shamrocks D Quinn; P Gillan, N McGarry, B McAuley; M McFadden, Johnny Campbell, M Scullion; D Laverty, L McKillop; E McCloskey, James Campbell, A McCloskey; B McGarry, J Scullion, L Watson. Subs: A Watt for A McCloskey, C McKinley for James Campbell, D Laverty for B McGarry.
Referee: C McAllister (Cork).