Pearses 1-10 Killimor 1-8. Report by Darren Kelly, Connacht Tribune. Tomás Flannery played a captain’s role in helping Padraig Pearses claim the Finnerty Plant Hire Galway Intermediate hurling Championship, scoring three points late in the game to help his side see off the challenge of Killimor and earn a return to the senior ranks at a bitterly cold Kenny Park, Athenry on Sunday. Andrew Keary’s goal six minutes from time had Killimor within a single point of the Gurteen Ballymacward men and a replay loomed large once more for two clubs who famously needed three finals to separate them at this grade almost twenty years previously. As in 1991, it was Pearses who prevailed in the end, as Flannery’s salvo ensured Killimor were chasing a goal in the dying embers of this dour clash. Robbie Mitchell did have one final fling with a free from 30 yards out, but Padraig Pearses had already seen off a similar situation in their epic quarter final victory over Cappataggle and they held out once more to spark raucous celebrations.
While conditions were far from ideal as temperatures plummeted and a rain-soaked pitch hampered free-flowing hurling, this contest was by and large a forgettable affair which offered precious little to warm the heart, or hands, of any neutrals present who may have been expecting more from these two sides. As Flannery stated afterwards, Pearses were expecting and had prepared for a physical encounter and Killimor duly turned it into one. Critically, though, in Cyril Donnellan Pearses had the one player who could elevate the tone of the game, even if only sporadically, and his second half goal gave his side the lift they needed to get themselves over the finishing line.
Killimor, while acknowledging that they have a young and improving side, may well look back on this one as an opportunity missed, as they squandered a number of relatively straightforward frees and gave Fergal Flannery in the Pearses goal plenty of catching practise in the first half as numerous efforts dropped harmlessly short. The only lead they held in the game lasted barely a minute when midfielder Shane McClearn twisted and turned before opening the scoring from the right sideline in the fifth minute. An impressive response soon had Pearses 0-3 to 0-1 in front, though, as Thomas Flannery clipped over two frees before Aidan Kilkenny took advantage of defensive hesitancy to point on 10 minutes.
Cyril Donnellan’s first involvement saw him drag a shot onto the right upright; Ger Lyons effort minutes later at the other end could well have suffered the same fate until the last moment when it crept inside the post – after some hesitancy the umpire correctly acknowledged the score. A frustrating spell followed as referee Christy Brown had rightful cause to whistle for a succession of frees which caused the tie to stutter along aimlessly for a time. Then Ger Lyons pointed a free for Killimor to level matters on 22 minutes, but Pearses hit back with three on the trot before the break to give them a double scores advantage.
Cyril Donnellan was first to strike with a good point, before full forward Emmet Ward positioned himself well to pick up a loose ball and fire over the bar. The final score of the half was simplicity itself as Keith Donnellan read Fergal Flannery’s dropping puck out to perfection and dissected the posts with the minimum of fuss. Andrew Keary’s impact on proceedings until this point for Killimor had been noticeable by its absence, but within 16 seconds of the restart he drove over a great score from the right touchline. Killimor needed to get the next score too, but a Cyril Donnellan burst at the other end won a free which Flannery converted.
A goal behind, Ger Lyons notched up Killimor’s eighth wide with twenty minutes remaining but soon made up for that miss with his third point. Two minutes later, though, Cyril Donnellan rattled the net after Aidan Kilkenny’s high ball drifted towards Flannery on the 20m line and the inter-county star tore onto the breaking ball and finished with aplomb. There looked to be only one winner at this point, and that remained the outlook despite Killimor outscoring Pearses by two Michael Dervan frees to one Flannery effort over the next ten minutes. Then, from nothing, Keary struck for Killimor’s lifeline goal when the referee allowed a scramble develop in front of the Pearses goal and as the defenders assumed a free would soon be forthcoming, Keary blasted to the net and set up a dramatic finale.
As had happened throughout the course of the game, though, Pearses responded well and Flannery kept his composure to register his fifth successful free from a difficult angle with four minutes remaining. Ger Lyons quickly reduced the arrears to one, but Flannery ensured that it would be he who accepted the cup from County Board chairman Joe Byrne with the game’s last score, a splendid effort from the touchline. In winning their club’s fourth intermediate title, Pearses were best served by goalkeeper Fergal Flannery; Padraig Raftery, Kerril Hardiman, and Sean Hardiman in defence; Keith Donnellan put in a tireless shift in midfield; Aidan Kilkenny was also solid while Cyril Donnellan and Thomas Flannery were the best of the forwards by some way.
Killimor were best served on a disappointing day for them by solid, tireless displays from Padraig Gohery, Eoin Fahy, Shane McClearn, Eamon Duane, Andrew Keary (second half), and Ger Lyons. Pearses won’t have much time for celebrating as they face a Connacht final against Ballyhaunis in Athleague on Sunday (2pm). With Keith Higgins (1-7) and Stephen Hoban (1-2) to the fore, the Mayo men defeated Four Roads of Roscommon in the semi-final by 3-13 to 2-13.
PEARSES: F. Flannery; A. Kenny, T. Kenny, P. Raftery; T. McDonagh, T. Higgins, K. Hardiman; S. Hardiman, K. Donnellan (0-1); A. Kilkenny (0-1), C. Donnellan (1-1), C. Ward; T. Flannery (0-6, five frees), E. Ward (0-1), J. Gelston. Sub: B. Donnellan for C. Ward (30 minutes).
KILLIMOR: L. Gordon; M. Gohery, E. Fahy, N. Duffy; P. Gohery, E. Duane, R. O’Brien; D. Broderick, S. McClearn (0-1); S. Boland, S. Duane, A. Keary (1-1); M. Dervan (0-2, both frees), G. Lyons (0-4, two frees), R. Mitchell. Subs: K. Callanan for Broderick (40 minutes), T. Gibbons for Boland (47 minutes). Referee: C. Brown.