Christy Ring Cup Senior Hurling Final – Westmeath 2-16 Kerry 1-18

Croker heartbreak for Kingdom

Westmeath 2-16 Kerry 1-18

By Diarmuid O’Flynn for the Irish Examiner newspaper

Monday, July 05, 2010

ANOTHER Christy Ring title for Westmeath, their third since winning in the inaugural season of 2005, cementing their position as the best of the teams-in-waiting beneath the top tier. Heartbreak though for gallant Kerry, beaten by a superb injury-time point from young Westmeath substitute Andrew Dermody but denied seconds earlier what appeared a clear, potentially game-winning, free for a Westmeath foul handpass well within scoring range for free-taker Darragh O’Connell – then denied again seconds later of any opportunity to equalise as referee Tony Carroll from Offaly blew for full-time immediately on the subsequent puckout. “The throw-ball is for ye to call,” said a bitterly disappointed Kerry manager John Meyler, “but he also played only 36min 8secs, that’s with three substitutions by us and three more by them in the second half – surely that was a couple of minutes on its own? There should have been at least three minutes.”

Had it been another couple of minutes of injury-time, had it even gone to the extra-time that had looked on the cards as two talented, totally committed, well-coached teams which were locked together for the final ten minutes of what had been a gripping contest, no-one would have complained – this was outstanding entertainment, hurling as it should be played. Though playing into a stiffish breeze it was Kerry looking the better side in the opening half, 0-4 to 0-1 ahead after 11 minutes. They were still two points in front at the break, 0-12 to 1-7, despite shipping that goal a few minutes before the break after razor-sharp corner-forward Dan Carthy latched onto the break from a long Pat Burke puckout, gave Bernard Rochford no chance from close range.

Six scorers the Kingdom had from play in that half, midfielder John Griffin joining John Egan, Michael Boyle, James Flaherty and Shane Nolan on the sheet, with the sixth forward, Gary ‘Boxer’ O’Brien doing really well as a set-up man. A sign of the balance in both sides, however, Westmeath had an even greater spread of scorers, all six forwards contributing, midfielder Joe Clarke also with a point. Very little between them then as the sides changed ends, and thus it continued for the first ten minutes after the resumption. Westmeath did manage a second goal in the 39th minute, Paul Greville this time, in the other corner, but needing (and more significantly, getting) three opportunities before he finally converted, again from close range. Kerry, however, had four points in that same period, three from the blade of youngster O’Connell, the fourth from the other wing-forward, hard-working John Egan, just about keeping their noses in front (0-16 to 2-9). Then came a Westmeath purple patch, five points on the trot taking them into the lead for the first time, the Kerry challenge looking shot, four points adrift.

To their credit, however, they came back, substitute Shane Brick (still not fully recovered from a lingering hamstring injury) goaling from the rebound after his own fiercely hit 20m free was saved, then Michael Boyle – swapped to full-forward with Gary O’Brien – with the equaliser in the 63rd minute. Five fiercely contested but fallow minutes followed, before midfielder Mike Conway put Kerry ahead with a fine point in the 68th minute – back in the driving-seat, then? Credit to Westmeath, however; backs to the wall, they responded like champions, and it was veteran centre-forward Brendan Murtagh with the equaliser from a 38m free, then the precocious Dermody with the cool winner.

“Heart-stopping stuff,” said Westmeath manager Kevin Martin, former All-Ireland winner with Offaly – “If I didn’t have a heart-attack today I’ll never have one. Brilliant stuff, right to the end. Kerry were much the better team in the first half but we hadn’t hurled – I knew there was more in them. We went four points up in the second half, I thought we were cruising, I thought we’d drive on and win by more, but in fairness to Kerry they dug deep, came back into it, and there was only a puck of a ball in it at the end.” One puck. “We had chances near the end,” said Meyler, “A few bad wides, but we were really working hard. It was just that little spurt they had where they got 1-4 or whatever (the five points between the 45th and 56th minutes); we clawed it back to go level, then went ahead, and I thought we’d drive on from there. A few calls then, the goal disallowed (66th minute, Gary O’Brien), I thought that was the turning-point, if we’d got that we would have driven on.” They didn’t on Saturday, but with standards improving across the board in hurling (evidenced in the high quality of hurling on offer in the earlier Lory Meagher and Nicky Rackard finals) both sides should certainly drive on from this.

Scorers for Westmeath: D Carthy 1-2; P Greville 1-2; B Murtagh 0-4 (1f); S Bardon 0-3; J Clarke 0-2; E Loughlin, B Lahorte, A Dermody, 0-1 each.

Kerry: D O’Connell 0-8 (6f); J Egan 0-3; S Brick 1-0; M Boyle 0-2; J Griffin 0-2; J Flaherty, S Nolan, M Conway, 0-1 each.

Subs for Westmeath: P Dowdall for Lahorte, 34; C Jordan for McCormack, 35; A Dowdall for Loughlin, 52; A Dermody for Bardon, 66.

Kerry: S Brick for Flaherty, 48; C Harty for Nolan, J McCarthy for Fitzgerald, both 60.

Referee: T Carroll (Offaly)

Substitute Andrew Dermody wrapped up an exciting Christy Ring triumph in Westmeath’s favour with a point in added time as Kerry’s hopes were dashed in Croke Park on Saturday afternoon. Dan Carthy scored a goal in the 32nd minute for Westmeath but Kerry’s sharper shooting gave them a 0-12 to 1-7 advantage at the break. Paul Greville grabbed a second goal for the Lake County in the second half but Kerry levelled up proceedings when sub Shane Brick fired to the net. The game looked set for extra-time until Dermody, who only came on with five minutes to go, sealed the title for Westmeath with a cracking effort from wide out on the left.

Team News

Kerry Senior Hurling team for Christy Ring Cup Final The Kerry Senior Hurling team for The Christy Ring Cup Final on Saturday 3rd July 2010 is as follows:

1 Bernard Rochford Killeagh, Cork

2 Colin Harris, Captain Kilmoyley,3 Tom Murnane Kilmoyley 4 John Fitzgerald Causeway

5 James Godley Kilmoyley 6 Liam Boyle Ballyduff 7 Aidan Healy Abbeydorney

8 Mike Conway Lixnaw 9 John Griffin Lixnaw 10 John Egan Ardfert 11 Michael Boyle Ballyduff 12 Darragh O’Connell Abbeydorney

13 James Flaherty Lixnaw 14 Gary O’Brien Ballyduff 15 Shane Nolan Crotta O’Neills The substitutes are : 16 John Brendan O’Halloran Kilmoyley ,17 James McCarthy Kilmoyley ,18 Colm Harty Causeway

19 Shane Brick Kilmoyley ,20 Sean Maunsell Kilmoyley ,21 Eoin Sheehy Kilmoyley 22 Ronan Kenny Ballyheigue

23 John Mike Dooley Causeway 24 Padraigh Monson Causeway 25 Niall Young Kilmoyley 26 David Fitzelle Kilmoyley

27 Jason Casey Ballyheigue 28 Sean Young Kilmoyley 29 Brian O’Leary Abbeydorney 30 Richard Nolan Crotta O’Neills

31 Darren Twomey Crotta O’Neills 32 Adrian Royle Kilmoyley 33 Nicky Leen Ballyduff 34 Andy McCarthy Kilmoyley

35 Patrick O Keefe Glenfesk

There are two personnel changes to the team that played Wicklow in the semi final. Aidan Healy comes in to the backs as Andrew Keane cannot play due to suspension. James Flaherty replaces John Mike Dooley in the full forward line.

Manager John Meyler

Selectors John Hennessey Hennessy

Sean O Shea O’Shea

Coach/Trainer Joe O Connor

WESTMEATH (SH v Kerry) — P Burke; A Price, J Shaw, O Price; R Whelan, A Mitchell, D McCormack,;J Clarke; L Smyth; S Bardon, B Murtagh, E Loughlin; P Greville, B Leharte, D Carthy.