Tooreen give it their all - but come up just short in provincial decider

GAA: Connacht IHC Final; Oranmore-Maree 1-20 Tooreen 1-15

Giving their all: The Tooreen team who lost in the Connacht Intermediate Hurling Championship Final.

Giving their all: The Tooreen team who lost in the Connacht Intermediate Hurling Championship Final.

They may have lost their Connacht intermediate title in Athleague on Saturday afternoon, but Tooreen lost nothing when it came to effort and heart on the field.

The east Mayo men had plenty go against them - losing key man Cathal Freeman to injury just ten minutes in, then conceding a goal in injury time of the first half and losing a man to a red card before the half came to a conclusion and having to play the final quarter with just 13 men - but they never threw in the towel against a much fancied Galway outfit.

The informed opinion before the game suggested that Tooreen needed to get off to a good start if they were to have any chance of retaining the title they claimed last year, they did land the first score of the game through a Sean Kenny free four minutes in, but over the next four minutes Oranmore-Maree took control of the contest and reeled off six points on the bounce with Ross Malone with three points, Alan Burke, Sean McInerney and Padraic Keane all raising the white flag.

It looked like it could be a very long afternoon for the blue devils from there - but they upped the workmate and intensity and they took control of the contest outscoring their opponents by 0-7 to 0-2 over the next 14 minutes.

Shane Boland landed five frees while Sean Kenney tagged on two more, one from a free and one from play to leave the game level at eight points each four minutes from the break, with Niall Burke getting his first score of the day from a free and Alan Burke responding for the Galway champions.

Niall Burke edged his side back in front a minute into injury time and a minute later he got his hurl to a ball dropped in by Ross Malone and tipped it just past Stephen Leneghan to put his side into a 1-9 to 0-8 lead. Then Tooreen were dealt another blow when Conor Henry was shown a straight red card before the half time whistle was blown looking like it was going to leave the Mayo men with a huge hill to climb in the second half.

Fergal Boland opened the scoring in the second half with an excellently taken score from play to cut the gap back to three points early on. Boland’s battle with Gearoid McInerney was one of the highlights of the game, with Boland putting in a top class showing against the All Ireland senior hurling championship winner.

Niall Burke and Shane Boland swapped points, before Burke edged his side four clear 36 minutes in from a placed ball. Tooreen were thrown a lifeline 38 minutes in when Rory McInerney misjudged his puck out and the Tooreen full forward claimed the ball and made a break for goal. He didn’t connect as cleanly as he would have liked but it still had enough on it to sneak past McInerney over the line into the back of the net.

However Oranmore-Maree responded well and a brace of points from Burke along with one from Sean McInerney pushed their side four clear again as the clock approached the three quarter-mark and Tooreen lost David Kenny for a second yellow card.

It was going to be a mountain for Tooreen to climb from here, but the limited their opponents to just six more points and landed two more of their own before the end of the contest.

While they lost their title, Tooreen lost no pride as Oranmore-Maree march on to the All Ireland series.

Scores

Oranmore-Maree: N Burke (1-10, 4f, 1 65’ ), A Burke (0-3 ), R Malone (0-3 ), S McInerney (0-2 ), P Keane (0-1 ), G McInerney (0-1 )

Tooreen: S Boland (1-9, 7f ), S Kenny (0-3,2f ), F Boland (0-1 ), D Huane (0-1 ), C English (0-1 )

Tooreen: S Lenehan; A Henry, M Morley, P Delaney; S Morley, S Coyne, C Henry; C Freeman, D Kenny; S Regan, F Boland, D Huane; S Kenny, S Boland, B Morley. Subs: C English for C Freeman, D Harrision for B Morley, J Ganley for S Kenny, N Robinson for S Morley.

Oranmore-Maree: R McInerney; S Bannon, S Geoghean, A Bannon; M Hannify, G McInerney, L Keane; N Geoghegan, R Maher; M Quinn, A Burke, N Burke; R Malone, P Keane, S McInerney. Subs: E Burke for N Geoghegan, N Qualter for R Maher, S Hynes for A Bannon, S Dunne for P Keane.

Ref: J Keenan (Wicklow )

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