Last Sunday’s gripping Leinster Senior Hurling Club Championship semi-final was all about Raharney’s resilience, but a late Kilcormac-Killoughey burst floored them at Cusack Park.
A mini epic of a match dripped with drama, but the Offaly standard bearers stayed cool under serious pressure from Raharney scoring 1-4 without reply in the dying moments to seal a place in the provincial decider. Raharney, who led by two with five minutes left on the clock, left Mullingar aware that they could have given no more.
Gutsy until the death Raharney certainly made a mark and Kilcormac-Killoughey were mightily relieved to escape. Kilcormac-Killoughey manager Danny Owens paid tribute to the spirited manner in which Raharney competed throughout a compelling contest. “They were everything I expected them to be,” was Owens’ verdict following a match that blazed from start to finish. “I know Raharney for years in terms of how they hurl and they do have a lot of quality in their team.”
Honest and courageous Raharney’s spirit impressed Owens too. “They have massive heart.
“We were under no illusions that this was going to be a massive match, but we stuck at it. We are glad to get out with a win. It could have gone either way. We showed that winning mentality when it was really required.”
That statement couldn’t be disputed because Raharney’s passion had Kilcormac-Killoughey in trouble, but Owens’ team finished with a real flourish. Ciaran Slevin, who accumulated nine points for Kilcormac-Killoughey was immense, while Cillian Kiely also nabbed vital scores before Dan Currams’ injury time goal gave the full-time scoreline a somewhat false reflection of what had actually happened.
Owens admitted it had been keenly contested throughout. “It was great to come through such a game,” Owens reflected. “We would have rather it hadn’t been quite like that, but we came through it in the end.
“It showed that we have the ability and know how to win matches. When we really needed to do it we came good and that is the mark of a good team. We didn’t hurl that well. We have a lot to improve upon before the final.
“We have three weeks now before the Leinster final and we have a lot of preparing to do. We will try to be firing on all cylinders in the final.”
Raharney’s dynamism restricted Kilcormac-Killoughey to seven first-half points even though the visitors had crafted 17 scoring chances. A defiant in-your-face attitude was adopted by Raharney as Robbie Greville drifted all over the field making important contributions. Raharney’s cause was aided by an opportunistic flick from Ciaran Doyle which yielded a 10th minute goal. John Shaw’s delivery caused panic and Doyle took maximum advantage injecting Raharney’s challenge with momentum.
Kilcormac-Killoughey offered flickers of their ability, especially Slevin in attack, but scores from the Doyle twins, Ciaran and Killian, near the break ensured Raharney went in deadlocked at the break, 1-4 to 0-7.
After the restart Raharney continued to be plucky, but they just weren’t sufficiently clinical. From 12 decent scoring openings in the second half they were only able to pocket four points and while Kilcormac-Killoughey merely struck two between the 30th and 55th minutes they came good in the end. Killian Doyle did loft two outrageous efforts for Raharney which nudged them 1-8 to 0-9 in front, but Kilcormac-Killoughey replied.
Slevin (2 ) and Kiely (2 ) banged over scores as Kilcormac-Killoughey seized the initiative and Currams subsequently rattled the Raharney net. Kilcormac-Killoughey survived; Raharney were beaten, but they left the Leinster stage having produced a fiery display which augurs well for the future.