Goals do the trick!

But brave Confey push Ardclough all the way Senior Hurling Championship final Ardclough 3-9 Confey 0-14 By Paul O'Meara TIRESOME though it may be to dig up another well worn cliché there is one that seems unavoidable.

Ardclough resembled the old dogs dragging themselves along hard road.

There was something inevitable about the outcome of this SHC final at Newbridge on Sunday.

Confey have been a work in progress for a few seasons now but they are still a little inexperienced.

And they came up against a more battle-hardened side.

Not only have Ardclough a considerable pedigree at this level - they last won just two years ago - but they defeated the holders Celbridge in the semi final. If this wasn't a warning shot then they don't exist.

Apart from their experience, Ardclough won because they got the goals. Or maybe they got the goals because of their experience. One of those goals may have been down to luck but hardly all three.

Confey manager Liam Dowd said afterwards that if his side had got a goal they would have won.

He wasn't far off the mark because a goal would have been a big, big help to Confey. At one stage, having conceded the three goals in rapid succession inside the opening quarter, Confey were ten points down.

They rallied before half time and they recovered again in the final quarter but the damage in the form of two goals from Andrew Whelan and one from Brendan Byrne had been done.

Keith Mac Adhaimh got Confey's first score in the 7th minute form close range but it followed opening scores by Paul Fitzgerald ( after 41 seconds) and Ambrose Finnerty.

Brian Coulston hit over a free from 45 metres and Michael Divilly hit a fine point in reply.

Confey trailed by just 0-3 to 0-2 now and the floodgates opened.

Brendan Byrne flicked the sliotar into Ambrose Finnerty and he tapped it home from close range.

Soon afterwards Ardclough were celebrating a second goal. A long delivery into the Confey was batted away by goalie Robbie Connolly but it fell into Whelan's path and he despatched it to the net.

A minute later Brendan Ryan goaled at the end of a move involving Richie Hoban and Paul Fitzgerald. Confey did manage to recover their composure starting with points from Oisin Lynch and Kieran Divilly. In all, they hit seven points on the trot and played some excellent hurling in the process.

It brought them to within three points of Ardclough but they were followed by the most crucial scores of the game. Whelan and Tony Spain ended an Ardclough scoring famine, which had lasted all of eighteen minutes, with a point each.

Ardclough adjourned for the half time tea and crumpets leading by 3-5 to 0-9 and with the knowledge that they had halted Confey's recovery.

Spain was to put even more distance between the sides with the pointed a minute after the restart.

Confey weren't finished yet but Spain secured another important score at the start of the second half and it just made life harder for Confey.

The hard working and equally effective Kieran Divilly launched another push for the summit but his converted free, for a foul on Oisin Lynch, was followed by a couple of wides in a game which had very few up to then.

Paul Divilly also had a shot come off the crossbar and once Whelan and Brian Coulston (free) scored inside the final quarter the game was more or less sorted.

The game ended with Ardclough being chased all the way but, in truth, they were well cushioned by the three goals.

Conal O'Malley and Paul Kelly had fine performance in the Ardclough defence. Andrew Whelan inflicted much damage in the form of 2-2 before he limped off the field in the second period.

Tony Spain, fortunate to be only ticked for a shoulder-to-chest challenge on Michael Divilly in the first half, got two very important points for Ardclough. Enda Duane also played well for the winners.

Kieran Divilly was a candidate for the man of the match award and without him it was hard to see how Confey could have found the scores. Michael Divilly also played well at centre back. Keith Mac Adhaimh and Ger Kennedy were also prominent for Confey.

Ardclough: Mick Hogan; Conal O'Malley, Paul Kelly, Sean Buggle; Colm Maguire, Enda Duane, Richie Hoban; Michael Ryan, Colm Buggy; Tony Spain 0-2, Brian Coulston 0-2 both frees, Paul Fitzgerald 0-1; Ambrose Finnerty 0-1, Brendan Byrne 1-0, Andrew Whelan 2-2. Subs: Noel Byrne for Ryan (inj.) 42nd, Philip Fitzgerald 0-1 for Whelan (inj.) 47th, Ronan O'Malley for Finnerty 57th.

Confey: Robbie Connolly; Alan Fennelly, Ger Kennedy, Brian Dowd; Cillian Mac Suibhne, Michael Divilly 0-1, Kevin Chan; Paul Divilly, Paul Keegan; Phil Quigley, Conor Feeney, Keith MacAdhaimh 0-2; Oisin Lynch 0-1, Kieran Divilly 0-9 6 frees, Daragh Nolan 0-1.

Referee Ray Houlihan.


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