Padraig Pearses 2-6 Killimor 1-5. Report by John McIntyre, Connacht Tribune. Better late than never was the catchphrase ringing around the parish of Gurteen/Ballymacward on Sunday night after Pearses Intermediate hurlers finally claimed the 1991 County Title at the third attempt in deplorable conditions in Duggan Park, Ballinasloe. Unlucky not to win the first day and lucky to survive in the replay, Pearses finally got the formula right when a gritty display was more than enough to withstand Killimor’s disappointing challenge.
The standard of hurling was poor with the bad weather conditions taking a heavy toll on the quality of play. Skill and neat stick work gave way to doggedness and graft. Pearses, the tougher outfit, adjusted much better. Ultimately Killimor’s failure to make decisive use of the elements in the opening half proved their downfall. They bunched terribly in their quest for scores and crowded out an already congested midfield area. With Killimor constantly pushing forward, it left their defence vulnerable to breakaway attacks by Pearses given the amount of open space in the losers half of the field. In truth the interval scoreline of 1-3 each was bad news for Killimor.
Pearses, significantly, didn’t fall into the same trap in the second half. Their half back line and midfield resisted the temptation to move upfield giving the forwards enough room to create openings for the decisive scores. Pearses got off to a great start with a PJ Connell goal in the eight minute to compliment two pointed frees from Tom O’Brien. Killimor’s only score in the opening quarter came from a Vinny Brien free in the fourth minute. Later, Brien – from a difficult free – exchanged points with the impressive Tony O’Brien but Killimor were making little or no headway up front and ten minutes from half time they trailed 1-3 to 0-2 despite being backed by the influential elements.
The losers, however, messed up an excellent goal scoring opportunity in the 21st minute when Ger Daly, after fielding a Paul Finnegan delivery, made tracks for goal but his handpass to the unmarked Brien was badly directed and the chance was lost. Ironically, Killimor gained heart from that miss and Noel Brody, now operating at full forward, was in the right place to first time the ball to the net after Brien’s 21 yards free was blocked out by a wall of Pearses defenders in the 23rd minute. Almost immediately Niall O’Meara set up Daly for the equaliser.
With Seamus Lawless and Tom O’Grady outstanding in the half back line Pearses did not concede another score before half time and looked short odds at this juncture to capture the club’s first Intermediate title since 1979. A Vinny Brien point from a free in the opening minute of the second half temporarily raised Killimor’s hopes, but after Tom O’Brien quickly equalised (from a placed ball), Pearses dominated the rest of the match. The critical score of the match come in the 40th minute when a Tony O’Brien delivery broke to Joe Fahy and the lively Pearses wing forward beat Killimor goalkeeper Tommy Callaghy with a fine shot from 20 yards.
Only a great interception by Killimor corner back Dara Horan prevented another Pearses goal soon afterwards, but the Billy Joyce trained outfit were not to be denied, with points from Tom O’Brien and midfielder Des Roche – a great long range effort – putting the seal on a deserved win. Pearses’ durability stood them in good stead all-through and while it is difficult to see them making a huge impact in the Senior ranks, confronting better teams could raise their own standards appreciably.
County panelist Francis O’Brien had a quiet game on Sunday though his influence was reduced by sustaining a couple of heavy knocks. Goalkeeper John O’Grady dealt capably with anything that came his way, but the real heroes in defence were Tom O’Grady and Seamus Lawless who both dominated their sector of the field. Corner back Emmet Lydon was also prominent while Frank McDonagh and Gerry McDonagh both finished strongly. Frank Finn grafted hard all-through at midfield while the chief threats in attack were Tony O’Brien, who roved to great effect, Tom O’Brien and the flying Joe Fahy, who was inclined to pass himself by, such was his dash going forward.
Killimor will obviously be disappointed at their performance but they possess some promising young hurlers and they have laid a solid foundation for the future. Goalkeeper Tommy Callaghy, Dara Horan, Kevin Muldoon, Martin Kelly (in patches), Niall O’Meara and Eamon Hanney were their best performers. Team captain Ger Kirwan made a couple of mighty clearances, but at times was less than safe, while only two scores from play sums up the ineptitude of the attack where Noel Brody and Vinny Brien battled bravely throughout.
PEARSES: J. O’Grady, E. Lydon, G. McDonagh, F. McDonagh, T. O’Grady, S. Lawless, J. Jenkins, F. Finn, D. Roche (0-1), J. Fahy (1-0), J. Carr, F. O’Brien, PJ Connell (1-0), Tony O’Brien (0-1), Tom O’Brien (0-4, 3 frees).
KILLIMOR: T. Callaghy, B. Lawless, G. Kirwan, D. Horan, M. Kelly, K. Muldoon, P. Finnegan, E. Hanney, N. O’Meara (0-1), G. Daly (0-1), N. Brody (1-0), J. Malone, M. Quinn, M. Fahy, V. Brien (0-4, all frees). Subs: O. Reilly for Quinn, T. Brien for Malone.
Referee: S. Moran (Kilconieron)