Emotional scenes as Killanena finally break into senior ranks
By Michael O Connor.
Tears of joy filled up the famous Loughgraney as for the first time in the long and storied history of KIllanena GAA club they can now face into senior hurling for the year ahead as a result of a dour struggle with a Ruan side that could have easily be celebrating had they taken the chances that came their way from frees and play. When the two sides met in the Clare cup it was a goalfest with Ruan winning through. However, with the stakes high in Cusack park a repeat of earlier in the season was never on the cards.
A dream final for the hurling lovers. Ruan, famed for their exploits in the 40s, 50s and 60s against Killanena who for all their hurling since their formation never captured the Intermediate championship. Losses to Clooney/Quin and Clonlara in games that were both winnable haunted the men from Loughgraney as Ruan for their part have struggled to make any impact in the Intermediate grade were now only an hour away from reclaiming lost heritage at senior grade.
One major prematch change for Killanena was the introduction of Enda Collins who had been battling a hand injury all season with only irregular appearances. Fintan McNamara made way for the former underage county player.
Early Killanena pressure resulted in wides for Mark Flaherty and Noel Sheedy as it appeared that Killanena were finally going to make the long awaited breakthrough based on early exchanges. Mark Flaherty opened the scoring from a free that he won. Killanena were trying with little success to play the ball into Ronan Flaherty but invariably it broke down until he won a high delivery in the 11th minute and blasted past Pakie Roughan in the Ruan goals. Within seconds John Punch had Ruan finally off the mark with a free. Mark Flaherty, Ronan Flaherty and Jonathan Clohessy who fought back injuries to line out were all on target to leave the eventual winners (1-3) to (0-2) ahead at the end of the first quarters action.
In a move that brought dividends Ruan switched John Punch out and moved Aidan Lynch to full forward and in a minute Punch pointed a 65 won by Lynch who added a fine score from play soon after for Ruan’s fourth score as Killanena were beginning to falter a little but were saved by eight first half Ruan wides. John Noonan had two scoreable chances sent wide before making way for Fintan McNamara. Ruan’s Mikey Vaughan who was busy throughout without really scoring much pointed for his side in the 25th. Mark Flaherty’s third point a minute later was forgotten about when Alan Bell hit the Killanena net after Vaughans point effort came off the crossbar. Ruan had now came full circle to go a point clear. The final score of the first half fell to Mark Flaherty who from a free had the sides on level terms once more facing the dressingrooms on a (1-5) apiece score line.
The standard of fare in the second half was far from fluent with mistakes aplenty as both sides were still very nervous but the excitement of the closeness of exchanges kept spectators enthralled. 13 minutes elapsed before the first score of the new half and it fell to John Punch who converted another 65. Before this score, Mark Flaherty against his usual high standard sent three scorable frees wide. The sizable attendance were waiting in vain for one team to take the game over with a succession of scores but this was not in the script. Flaherty made up for earlier misses with a score in the 48th, Ronan Flaherty, John Punch, Brendan Lyons just introduced and Noel Sheedy were also on target to once again leave nothing between the sides, (1-8) each with ten minutes to play.
Two vital scores from the Flaherty brothers in the 55th and 56th minutes had daylight between the sides as Ruan now had to go for broke moving up players seeking at least two scores and maybe a golden goal to win the championship. The ball hit the Killanena post from a late Ruan attack with Tadgh Hanrahan on hand a minute later for the final score of this hard fought struggle. When the final whistle went Alan McNamara who has laboured long and hard fittingly had the ball in his hand that was in pain from an earlier knock but he wasn’t about to surrender the ball to anyone as celebrations began in true Killanena fashion.
Killanena will never forget this game making up for the horror defeats in 06 and 07 with sterling displays from Joe Clancy, Alan McNamara, John O Meara, Mike Noone, Mark Flaherty, top scorer and my man of the match Ronan Flaherty and Noel Sheedy. Ruan may have to lose one to win one and will need an infusion of new players to aid the honest efforts of Padraig Gutherie, Jonathan Clohessy, Niall O Connor, Leon Quirke, Tadgh Hanrahan, John Punch, Aidan Lynch and Eoin Hanrahan.
KILLANENA: David Noone, Barry Noone, Joe Clancy, Pat Noone, Kieran Glynn, John O Mara, Alan McNamara, Mikey Noone, Gerry McNamara, Noel Sheedy, Enda Collins, John Noonan, Ronan Flaherty, Liam McNamara, Mark Flaherty. Sub: Fintan McNamara (0-1) for Noonan, Brian McNamara for Liam McNamara
RUAN: Patrick Roughan, Damian Brohan, Niall O Connor, Leon Quirke, Padraig Gutherie, Jonathan Clohessy, Darragh Roughan, Tadgh Hanrahan, Killian Ryan, Michael Vaughan, Aidan Lynch, Alan Bell, Eoin Hanrahan, John Punch, Patrick Keegan. Sub: Brendan Lyons (0-1) for Bell, Caimin Howard for Keegan.
REFEREE: Tom Stacpoole (Ennistymon).
After the game Clare GAA Chairman Michael O Neill presented the Paddy Browne Intermediate hurling cup to Mark Flaherty as the entire population of Killanena/Flagmount appeared on the hallowed grounds of Cusack park as Sams. Canny’s and Tony Mc’s revved up for celebrations.