By the narrowest of margins after an epic contest Kilsheelan/Kilcash missed out on the big prize of an intermediate hurling title as they fell just short against Moyne/Templetuohy in Littleton on Saturday.
There was devastation at the end of an absolute thrilling game for the south side as they lost out by a solitary point to Moyne after they put in a performance full of resilience, character and quality.
Killsheelan hurled their way back into the game after falling four points behind as a result of a blistering start to the second half by their opponents to make this an absorbing battle between two very evenly matched teams.
There was a great air of expectation in the build up to this game and it did not disappoint. For the neutral it was a hugely entertaining game of hurling, a joy to watch, while both sets of supporters who packed into the Littleton venue on the perfect day for hurling experienced the whole gamut of emotions as the drama unfolded.
After a rip roaring first half the teams were level at 1-11 each but it was the lightning quick start to the second half for Moyne that handed them an advantage they just about held on to for the rest of the game.
The powerhouse Gearoid O’ Connor, a constant menace to Kilsheeelan, and the pace of Conor Bowe in midfield had caused great difficulty for the Kilsheelan defenders in that opening half and in the opening seconds of the second half the duo combined to strike a real blow.
The acceleration of Bowe took him away from a number of defenders and as more defenders approached him it left an unmarked Gearoid O’ Connor in space to receive the pass and he blasted to the net. Thirty seconds into the second half Kilsheelan were now three points down and that was pushed out to a margin of four when the excellent Tom Meade picked off a lovely score two minutes into the second half.
From that point on Kilsheelan were always chasing the game doing everything humanly possible to reduce that four point margin.
Their gallant attempt at overturning the four point lead created an enthralling game. Moyle kept picking off the scores to keep Kilsheelan at bay while the Kilsheelan forwards had to work desperately hard for scores.
Kilsheelan shot some costly wides in that second half and a lot of the credit for that has to go to the tenacious Moyne defenders who hunted down the man in possession that ensured that whenever a Kilsheelan forward created a chance to score he was always surrounded and under the most intense pressure taking on the shot.
The loss of the injured full back Daire Brennan for the start of the second half did temporarily unsettle the Kilsheelan defence. They did get used to the reorganisation required and once they got over the early Moyne blitz they hurled exceptionally well with Paul Maher outstanding in the centre of the defence.
Up front they worked with great industry to create openings with Mark Kehoe coming more into the game scoring three second half points to give his team every chance while Martin Gibbs and Barry Kehoe also kept the scoreboard ticking over to assist the cause
Kilsheelans big chance came with nine minutes left in the game. With three points between the teams the Moyne goalie Paul Maher pulled off a superb save going down on his knees to scoop a Mark Kehoe effort out for a ‘65 which was then put wide.
Kilsheelan kept going and a Martin Gibbs free reduced the deficit to two points before Moyne scored three points on the trot to pull away again.
Kilsheelan were still not giving in and in the closing minutes they scored four points without reply with Barry Kehoe’s excellent effort reducing the deficit to just a point deep into injury time.
Kilsheelan ran out of time however and were left heartbroken at the final whistle as the Moyne players and their jubilant supporters celebrated a hard fought victory.
Going on the opening exchanges it appeared this was going to be a game that was going to go to the wire. There was nothing between the teams as the game exploded from the start.
While Moyne created goal chances from the start the first goal fell to Kilsheelan after nine minutes. Full forward Jamie Roche pulled on a breaking ball as it fell into his path from a Martin Gibbs sideline to put Kilsheelan a point clear.
When Mark Stokes scored from a spectacular effort from midfield Kilsheelan were firing on all cylinders.
Moyne however responded immediately and in the tenth minute a brilliant run at the Kilsheelan defence from Jason Bergin yielded a goal to put Moyne back in front .
The speed and pace of the game was to be admired. Kilsheelan full forward Jamie Kehoe missed a glorious chance to add to his goal tally when he doubled on the ball rather than taking possession of it in the space he created in front of Paul Mahers goal and the chance was missed.
Kilsheelan center back Paul Maher, after Sean Martin foraged relentlessly for possession to set him up, scored the pick of the first half points with an uplifting long range effort as the teams finished 1-11 apiece at the break.
The quickfire start Moyne enjoyed to the second half caught out Kilsheelan but they recovered and went about reducing the four point lead with huge desire and phenomenal workrate but they just ran out of time at the end of a pulsating contest.
Paul Maher, Eoin Gorman, Ciaran Lloyd, John Coghlan, Jack Taylor,Thomas Hamill, Tommy Hassett, Pierce Meade, Conor Bowe, Tom Meade, Gearoid O’ Connor, Sean Hayes, Diarmuid Fogarty, Liam Butler, Jason Bergin
Scorers: Gearoid O’ Connor (I-12,8f’s,1,65)Tom Meade (0-4),Jason Bergin (1-1),Conor Bowe (0-1)
Subs: Martin Kelly for Sean Hayes, Shane Lowe for Eoin Gorman, Diarmuid Leahy for Diarmuid Fogarty,Damien Cantwell for Liam Butler,
Kilsheelan: Tadhg Lonergan, Jason Madigan, Daire Brennan, Eoin Kehoe, Bill Maher, Paul Maher, Billy O’ Connor, Mark Stokes, Cathal Kelly, Sean Martin, Martin Gibbs, Mark Kehoie, Emmet Butler, Jamie Roche, Barry Kehoe
Scorers: Martin Gibbs (0-9,8f’s) Mark Kehoe (0-5),Barry Kehoe (0-3), Jamie Roche (1-0) Mark Stokes (0-1),Paul Maher (0-1), Cathal kelly (0-1)
Subs: Brendan Martin for Sean Martin, Conor Davin Murphy for Daire Brennan, Conor Neville for Emmet Butler,
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