More balanced Gort see off Craughwell to qualify for county final

On a cold and squally day in Kenny Park, Gort and Craughwell produced an enjoyable game of hurling - one that was far superior to the drawn encounter seven days previously.

Despite the soft ground, there were some good scores produced by both sides on Sunday, and once again, like last year, there was little between the sides at the final whistle, 1-17 to 1-15.

Crucially however, Gort's greater overall balance and better scoring options around the field proved decisive, while the loss through injury of player manager Fergal Healy proved a significant loss for the Craughwell men. His guile, experience, game management and eye for a score were missed by his team.

Gort were slightly the better team and they deservedly qualified to meet city side Liam Mellows on Sunday week, December 3, in the 2017 county final at Pearse Stadium.

Aidan Harte played a key role

At half-time Gort held a slender 1-08 to 1-07 lead, created by a few minutes of superb score taking from Galway star Aidan Harte.

The Galway wing-back had moved up the field in the second quarter and he hit 1-2 just before half-time to cancel a well-taken Shane Dolan goal, set up by Niall Callanan, and a few frees from full-forward Niall Healy and a point from Thomas Monaghan.

Young Monaghan's point could have been a green flag too, but for a terrific hook by the hard working Jack Grealish.

Harte's goal was a key moment in the game and it was taken with aplomb, leaving Craughwell goalkeeper and captain Aidan Ryan with no chance, after being set up by the impressive Kaelen Higgins.

Harte, who was a tad unfortunate not to have collected an All-Star following a hugely productive season with Galway, finished the tie as his team's top scorer with 1-4 from play in a man-of-the-match performance.

He had good support from centre-back Greg Lally, who cleared a lot of ball, and the team captain's long deliveries often put Gort on the front foot.

Lally also hit 0-2 from frees and his long range free taking is a big plus for Michael Browne's side.

Other scorers for the 2014 county champions were Aiden Helebert with 0-6 (5fs ), Jason Grealish 0-2 and points from Kaelen Higgins, Albert Mullins and Richie Cummins.

Goalkeeper Gavin Lally always looked composed and wing-back Pakie Lally also impressed.

More heartbreak for Craughwell

Last weekend's narrow defeat was yet more heartbreak for Craughwell who have been in the last four county semi-finals and are one of the most consistent teams in the county.

Despite that consistency, they are over-dependent on Niall Healy for scores and he hit 0-10 (7fs ) last Sunday.

Healy had support in the scoring department from corner forward Shane Dolan with 1-1, Thomas Monaghan with two points, and points from wing-back Stephen Hynes and Alan Callanan.

Having been beaten in last year's county final by St Thomas, Gort will be keen to add to their recent county titles from 2011 and 2014.

They will be aware of the challenge they will face on Sunday week from Liam Mellows, who are looking for a first title since 1970 and believe this is their year.

It is a novel pairing and has the makings of a really exciting final and one not to be missed.

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