The Heart of Galway were crowned All Ireland Senior Interfirms Football champions for the first time with a narrow one-point victory over a gallant Intel side in Ballyforan.
This eagerly-awaited final which was held over from the 2008 GAA season did not disappoint. It was a hard-earned victory for the Tribesmen who recovered well from a shaky start to hold out for what was a deserved victory in the end.
The Heart of Galway had big performers down the spine of the team and found scores easier to come by, while Kildare largely relied on the accuracy of James Glancy.
With Kildare’s inside forward line causing problems for the Galway defence, they were first out of the traps - scoring two goals within the first nine minutes - fisted efforts which gave the Galway goalkeeper no chance.
Mark Lydon scored a point for the Heart of Galway while Joe Bergin and Glancy exchanged points to leave the Kildare men five clear midway through the first half despite playing into the breeze.
An inspirational long-range point from Joe Bergin was quickly followed by two Seamie Crowe frees to reduce the gap to two points after 22 minutes. A James Glancy free lifted the siege for Intel, but it was the Heart of Galway which finished the half the stronger. The sides were level for the first time three minutes from the break when a quickly taken free found Nicky Joyce inside. He made no mistake from close range. Just before the half time whistle they hit the front for the first time when Seamie Crowe pointed to complete the recovery for the Heart of Galway, leading 1-06 to 2-02.
The second half was as exciting as the first. An early Seamie Crowe free opened up a two-point lead for the tribemen. Intel, playing with the breeze, hit back with five unanswered points to leave the Leinster men in control. However the Heart of Galway regained the initiative as they began to dominate at midfield. Joe Bergin landed a fine long-range point to kick start the western revival. From the resultant kick out Bergin won the ball and fed Benny Lawless who fired over to reduce the gap to one. Mark Lydon soon levelled the contest approaching the final quarter and when Joyce was impeded just outside the large square, Crowe fired over the resultant free to edge the Galway men in front once more.
Then came what was to be the match winning score in the end. Another fine passing movement ended with Seamie Crowe crashing home from a tight angle to leave the Galway boys four up with 12 minutes remaining. Intel were not finished. After Vinny Hanrahan’s shot was blocked by the Galway keeper, Christy McGovern crashed home the rebound to bring the margin back to one with six minutes remaining.
In a tension-filled finish, a Philip Lydon free was cancelled by a Glancy effort moments later. Both sides had their chances in the remaining minutes, but it was the Heart of Galway which held on to lift the All Ireland title and the Joe Flynn Cup for the first time.
Heart Of Galway: P Doherty, D McDonagh, C Begley, E Griffin, A Kane, G O’Donnell, T Nally, J Bergin (0-3 ), M Lydon (0-3 ), R Conneely, N Joyce (1-0 ), B Lawless (0-1 ), S Crowe (1-5 ), A Kerrins, P Lydon. Subs, A Glynn, K Nally, M McDonagh. Management, Tom Nally (manager ), Prionsisa Kitt, Brendan Molloy, and Francis Rice.