A stunning hat-trick from Liam Watson helped Loughgeil beat Coolderry in the club All-Ireland Hurling Final.
AIB All-Ireland Club Hurling Final
Coolderry (Offaly) 0-17 4-13 Loughgiel Shamrocks (Antrim), Croke Park FT
FT Its all over, what a performance by Liam Watson for Loughgeil.
59min Brendan McCarry hits over another point for the Antrim men.
57min Damien Murray hits over a nice free, but they might of been better off looking for a goal.
55min Who else but Liam Watson scores for Loughgeil. Brendan McCarry also scores for the Antrim men.
53min Easy free for Damien Murray, six in it with eight minutes left.
52min Poor wide from Kevin Brady for Coolderry.
50min Eoin Ryan responds with a point for Coolderry, they needs goals not point at this stage.
50min Liam Watson makes it 3-6 for the day.
49min Liam Watson gives Loughgeil a seven point lead.
45min B McAuley hits a stunning point for Loughgeil, Coolderry are going to need a goal to win this.
44min No score for seven minutes until Damien Murray brings it back to five.
37min Liam Watson gets Loughgeils first score of the second half from an easy free.
35min Five minutes gone in the second half and its all Coolderry. Only five points in it after Parlon scores.
34min Great save from Loughgeil keeper, but Coolderry get a point to leave six in it.
33min Kevin Connelly with a nice point, thats the first two of the second half to Coolderry.
32min Damien Murray leaves eight in it.
31min Loughgeil on the first attack of the second half.
HT Stunning first half from Liam Watson. Loughgeil lead by nine.
30+1min Damien Murray brings it back to three goals.
30min Liam Watson gets his hat-trick, this now leaves Loughgeil ten points up.
28min Watson looked like he was going to tip it over the bar, but he buries it in the back of the net.
28min Trevor Corcoran fouls Liam Watson when he looked likely to be in for a goal, its only yellow for the Coolderry man.
26min Loughgeil give away an easy free and no mistakes this time from Damien Murray.
25min Easy free form Liam Watson gives Loughgeil a five point lead.
23min Really well worked point for Joey Scullion for Loughgeil.
21min Poor wide by Damien Murray from an easy free for Coolderry.
20min The Coolderry center back Kevin Brady scores a nice point from play.
18min Liam Watson follows up his point with Loughgeils second goal.
17min Stunning point from play by Liam Watson for the Antrim men.
16min McCoskey hits a poor wide for Loughgeil.
15min Brian Carroll levels up the match.
11min Two nice points from play for Coolderry, its back to a one point game. Brian Carroll.
9min McCarry & McCoskey extends the Loughgeil lead to three points.
8min Damien Murray hits another free for Coolderry.
7min Great run from the Loughgeil corner forward Casey who kicks the ball into the back of the net.
6min Eoin Ryan get the first score from play with a nice point off his left hand side.
4min Damien Murray levels the scoring for Coolderry from another free.
2min Loughgeil opening the scoring from a free through Liam Watson.
1min Coolderry have the first wide of the match.
0min Match about to get underway, he sun has come out.
0min Its 30min to throw in at a wet and windy Croke Park.
1. Quinn; 2. Gillan 3. McGarry 4. R. McCoskey; 5. J. Campbell 6. M. Scullion 7. J. Campbell; 8. B McAuley 9. M. McFadden 10. Watson 11. Laverty 12. E McCloskey; 13. McCarry 14. J. Scullion 15. S Casey
I think it is fair to say that this time last year, hardly anyone would have picked either of these two teams to win through to the All-Ireland club final for 2012. I think it is also fair to say that very few people would have bet that the club final would contain representatives from Offaly and Antrim, but in fairness to the two clubs involved, they are fully deserving of their place in the club calendar’s big day.
In many ways, this unique final pairing is indicative of what has been a rather unusual club championship. In recent years, the All-Ireland champions have invariably come from Galway and Kilkenny with Portumna and Ballyhale Shamrocks hoovering up titles with enormous regularity. Outside of those two, De La Salle from Waterford and Oulart the Ballagh from Wexford have been knocking on the door without ever getting in. When the big two were knocked off their perches in their respective counties, we looked to the likes of reigning champions, Clarinbridge, Ballygunner (Waterford) and Ballyboden St Enda’s (Dublin) as contenders, until they too fell by the wayside.
All the time, Loughgiel Shamrocks and Coolderry were quietly going about the business of winning their club championships. The former managed to defend the title they had claimed 12 months previously when they annexed their first title since 1989 while down in the faithful county managed to move ahead at the top of the roll of honour while defending their own title.
As you would expect, Loughgiel had the more straight-forward path through their provincial championship as they saw off Kevin Lynch’s (Derry) in the semi-final before beating Ballycran (Down) in the final. In the Leinster championship, Coolderry really had to do it the hard way as they saw off a highly fancied Ballyboden St Enda’s in the semi-final before beating hot favourites, Oulart the Ballagh in the final on a scoreline of 1-15 to 1-11.
Then, in the All-Ireland semi-final, Loughgiel caused a major surprise when they knocked out the Munster champions, Na Piarsaigh of Limerick in a humdinger of a game in Parnell Park. On the day, it was a spectacular performance from the brilliant and often controversial Liam Watson that fired the Antrim champions into the final. Watson was simply unmarkable on the day, rifling over 16 points, 6 from play in a display that the Limerick champions simply had no answer for.
In the other semi-final, Coolderry once again went in as underdogs against Gort, the team that had dethroned the reigning champions, Clarinbridge in the Galway County final. Once again, the Offaly men upset the odds and helped by 1-8 from former and perhaps future Offaly star, Damien Murray they came away with a 3-16 to 0-17 win.
To suggest that either of these two teams is a one-man team, is very wide of the mark, as I doubt any team will ever make it to an All-Ireland final while being reliant on one key player. It may well be that Loughgiel rely on Watson far more than Coolderry rely on Murray. Indeed, the talent in the Coolderry forward line is one of the talking points in the run up to this final because as well as Murray, the Loughgiel defence will also have to deal with Cathal Parlon, Barry Teehan, Brian Carroll as well as new star, Eoin Ryan.
Loughgiel themselves have a forward line that will also relish the wide open spaces of Croke Park with Bennie McGarry and Eddie McCloskey in particular bound to be a danger to the Coolderry defence.
Another factor that will have to be taken into consideration is that for the first game in a long time, Coolderry will have to deal with the tag of favouritism and while they are not going to underestimate the Glensmen after what they did to Na Piarsaigh, you just never know how the favourites mantle will sit on shoulders. In fairness to Coolderry, in the likes of Murray, Parlon, Carroll, Joe and Kevin Brady they have players with enormous experience.
Loughgiel are the only one of these clubs that already have a title to their name having lifted the trophy back in 1983 when they beat a team from, yes you’ve guessed it, Offaly. I have no doubt that a win for Loughgiel would do wonders for hurling in Antrim. Offaly hurling could also do with a lift right now and I have a feeling that it is the Faithful men who will be celebrating on Saturday night.