Impressive Loughrea will face Clarinbridge in hurling final

Loughrea, powered by the free-taking of young Neil Keary, advanced with a lot more ease than the final scoreline suggests to the 2010 county final where they will face Clarinbridge.

At Kenny Park on Saturday afternoon in balmy weather conditions and watched by another enormous crowd, Loughrea were superior. They were much more focused in almost all facets of play than a tired and lethargic Portumna team that looked out on its feet - both physically and mentally.

Even the top teams run out of juice eventually and Johnny Kelly’s men really hit the wall last Saturday afternoon.

They have been phenomenal Galway champions, winning three All-Ireland titles in their run of success, but they had nothing left in the tank last weekend and they were hurling on autopilot.

In fact the break from the constant treadmill of winter training which they have been involved in for the past few seasons might be just what the doctor has ordered for some of their players. And Galway supporters will be hoping Joe Canning, in particular, will get a few months R&R and come back raring for action next season.

Hopefully the time off from club and county hurling will give him a chance to get any niggling injuries cleared up and get back to the form he can produce.

It came as no surprise that it was Loughrea who brought the curtain down on their run of success in Galway.

Unfortunately the Town had the misfortune that one of the best group of players in their club's history has coincided with that of Portumna's.

To prove that point, they have lost three county finals to Portumna since 2003 including last season when they were defeated by 19 points.

However that result seemed a world away last Saturday as Loughrea held Portumna scoreless for more than 30 minutes, during which time they notched 0-7.

Loughrea hurled with intensity and they will be keen to add to the title they won in 2006 when they face Clarinbridge on Sunday week.

Defensively they looked very strong with Damien McClearn imperious at full-back, Nigel Shaughnessy, Brian Mahony and Vinnie Maher always in control, and neither Damien Hayes nor Joe Canning was given any latitude.

Johnny O’Loughlin hit the crucial goal for Loughrea and from that score, they never looked likely to be beaten.

The watching Clarinbridge players will know they will have to be at their best to take them down.

Scorers: Loughrea, N Keary 0-11 (0-9f, 0-1 '65 ); J O'Loughlin 1-2, N Shaughnessy (0-1f ), J Coen, J Maher 0-1 each. Portumna, J Canning 0-10 (0-8f ), A Smith 1-1 (1-0f ), D Hayes 0-2, K Hayes 0-1.

Loughrea: N Murray; B Mahony, D McClearn, E Mahony; N Shaughnessy, P Hoban, V Maher; E Mahony, G Keary; J Coen, J Maher, J Regan; T Hoban, J O'Loughlin, N Keary. Subs: K Colleran, B Dooley, G Kennedy.

Portumna: I Canning; A O'Donnell, E McEntee, O Canning; E Lynch, M Ryan, G Heagney; L Smith, P Smith; A Smith, N Hayes, K Hayes; D Hayes; C O'Hare, J Canning. Subs: G Kelly, C Ryan, R Royston.

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