Late rally sees Raharney crowned county champs in thriller

Westmeath SHC final

Raharney 2-14    Clonkill 1-16

County finals very often don’t live up to expectations. To be honest it has been years since we have had a classic decider in either code in Cusack Park. That is what makes this year’s Greville Arms senior hurling championship final so special.

On a perfect day for hurling Clonkill and Raharney certainly served up a game worthy of the occasion, and one that will be remembered and talked about for years to come. While at times the hurling was only average, there was no shortage of talking points and pieces of individual brilliance, not to mention drama.

Reigning champions Clonkill entered the game wearing the favourite’s tag, despite having failed to fire on all cylinders in earlier rounds. Leading by six points with just seven minutes remaining they looked all set to retain their crown. Raharney, inspired by Paul Greville, refused to read the script however. Having closed the deficit to just two points they snatched victory from the jaws of defeat thanks to a Brian Connaughton goal from a 21-metre free deep into injury time.

It was a cruel way to lose any game let alone a final. Yet it would also have been rough justice if Paul Greville had finished on the losing team. The dual star certainly left his mark on this game, to make up for the disappointment of losing out at the semi-final stage of the football championship.

Having played much of the game at wing back, it was his switch to full forward which helped to turn this game on its head. Immediately Greville began to torment the Clonkill defence and having notched a point in the 56th minute he followed up with a goal a minute later to close the gap to a point. The cat, as the say, was now certainly amongst the pigeons.

Clonkill hearts were relieved when Brendan Murtagh won the puck out and fired over what looked like an insurance point. Five minutes of injury time had been signalled and with three of them gone it was that man Grevillle again who won a 21 metre free for his side.

Up stepped Brian Connaughton and, while he could have been forgiven for tapping it over to reduce the gap to a single point in the hope of drawing level during the two minutes still remaining, Brian went for the jugular. Not only did he go for it but he got it to send his side into a one point lead. Try as they might, Clonkill were unable to find an equalizer in the remaining two minutes and when James McGrath sounded the long whistle it was the blue and white brigade who were celebrating a famous victory.

Raharney now face Offaly champions Coolderry on October 31.


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