Liffey Champion Senior Hurling Championship Final Confey: 3-13 Ardclough: 1-15
IN the end class prevailed and ensured Confey took home back to back Senior Hurling Championship titles after comfortably overcoming Ardclough in last Sunday's final in St Conleth's Park.
This game might have been tight at the break with the champions only leading by three (1-8 to 0-8) but after the turn around they kicked things up a notch to canter home with the Carey Cup. They proved last year's success was no flash in the pan and make no mistake about it Confey are far and above the best side in Kildare and could be for a number of years to come if one considers how young this team actually is.
The oldest player to start for the champions was 27-year-old Daragh Nolan, who might your writer add, had a smashing game grabbing two goals and three points from play. The youngest was Paraic Keegan at just 19, so if anything this team is only going to get better with maturity.
Ardclough, who beat Confey in the 2006 decider, didn't perform badly at all but they simply couldn't contend with their opponents and particular midfield man Oisin Lynch, who gave an exhibition of hurling.
Lynch finished up with a personal tally of seven points, four of those coming from play, but it wasn't just his scoring exploits that caught the eye. The county man has great vision and certainly knows how to pick a pass with a calmness that is needed in a final.
The aforementioned Daragh Nolan was also in inspiring form for Joey Morris' side. The corner forward did exactly what was asked of him and perhaps more. He was lethal. Anything that was sent in he went after and nine time out of ten he delivered the goods.
Confey seem to have a knack of scoring goals, they did so in last year's county final and they did it again last weekend and ultimately that's what sealed it for them because Ardclough's only goal didn't come until deep in to stoppage time.
Indeed Confey didn't have to wait too long for their opening goal, just two minutes in fact when Kieran Divilly's free from 85 yards out sailed all the way in to the back of Michael Hogan's net.
Two more followed during the final 30 minute period, their third in stoppage time, but long before that the destination of the Carey Cup was decided.
The first 30 minute offering was at least competitive and only Divilly's early goal separated the teams at the interlude. However, it was Ardclough that got proceeding underway when they opened the scoring in the first minute through a Paul Fitzgerald free. Confey weren't behind for long though thanks to Divilly's three pointer. With five minutes on they clock the champions led 1-1 to 0-2 and in fact the only time they trailed was after the game's opening score from Fitzgerald, who was most impressive for Tom Johnson's side.
The opening's half most impressive point came 17 minutes in when Oisin Lynch struck over from inside his own half to ensure a three point (1-4 to 0-4) advantage for his side.
Ardclough let some good scoring chances go a begging in the first half, none more so than Tony Spain's wide effort in the 22nd minute, however they kept plugging and kept eating away at their opponent's lead. With three minutes of normal time remaining in the half Kildare minor star Martin Fitzgerald showed his class before raising a white flag to leave the score at 1-6 to 0-7 and before the half time whistle sounded the sides swapped points and Confey led by three heading to the dressing room.
With six minutes of the final half played Ardclough levelled proceedings thanks to three unanswered points from Tony Spain an two (one free) from sharpe shooter Paul Fitzgerald but that's as close as they got.
Confey's first score of the final half came ten minutes in and pushed them three ahead once more. A long clearance from the stick of Kevin Chan fell for Nolan and with the goalkeeper advancing from his line Nolan calmly struck low by him to leave the scoreboard reading 2-8 to 0-11.
Down the other end the Confey rearguard were performing admirably and getting great blocks in much to the frustration of their opponents.
With ten minutes left on the clock the holders were leading 2-11 to 0-13 and in truth the game was all but over. For good measure though Confey added a third goal in time added on, a minute before Richie Hoban's '65' sailed all the way to the net.
That was to be the last action as Alan Lagrue blew the long whistle and deservedly declared Confey Kildare's finest.
Scorers: Confey – Daragh Nolan 2-3, Oisin Lynch 0-7 (1 '65', 2f), Kieran Divilly 1-0 (1f), Paul Divilly 0-1, Michael Divilly 0-1, Hugh Lynch 0-1.
Ardclough – Paul Fitzgerald 0-6 (4f), Tony Spain 0-3, Richie Hoban 1-0, Brian Coulston 0-2, Martin Fitzgerald 0-2.
Confey: Robbie Connolly; Alan Fennelly, Paul Keegan, Brian Dowd; Shane Lawless, Kieran Divilly, Kevin Chan; Philip Quigley, Oisin Lynch; Paul Divilly, Michael Divilly, Mark Fennelly; Paraic Keegan, Hugh Lynch, Daragh Nolan. Subs: Eoin Fitzpatrick replaced P Keegan 39 mins, Shane Doyle replaced M Divilly 62 mins.
Ardclough: Michael Hogan; Conaill O'Malley, Ronan O'Malley, Brian O'Malley; Michael Ryan, Enda Duane, Robbie Spain; Richie Hoban, Colm Maguire; Tony Spain, Brian Coulston, Paul Fitzgerald; Philip Fitzgerald, Ambrose Finnerty, Martin Fitzgerald. Subs: Patrick Duggan replaced A Finnerty 42 mins, Robert Kelly replaced C Maguire 54 mins.
Referee: Alan Lagrue (Naas).