All Ireland Intermediate Club Championship semi-final
St. Gall’s (Antrim) v Aronmore/Maree (Galway)
Parnell Park (2.00)
Having conquered Ulster the task doesn’t get any easier for Antrim champions, St. Gall’s as they head to Parnell Park on Sunday to face Oranmore/Maree of Galway. Aronmore/Maree have been regarded as under achievers in Galway for some time but they put that notion to bed with a comprehensive win over Kilconieron in the Galway final.
They had nine points to spare over Rahoon/Newcastle in the
semi-final and clearly carry a big scoring threat. Big players stand up on the
big days and they don’t come much bigger than Gearoid McInerney and Niall
Burke, the two Galway men heavily influential for Oranmore/Maree who impressed
in every sector of the field.
Eight minutes in they led 0-6 to 0-0 as Rahoon/Newcastle
struggled desperately to get to the pitch of the action. Niall Burke fired his
side’s first three scores, a one-handed point from play sandwiched between two
frees before Ross Malone fired over a simple score to make it four.
Credit to Rahoon/Newcastle who fought back in both halves
but in truth that was more down to Oranmore/Maree taking their foot off the gas
with John Burke and Gerry McInerney’s men showing exactly why they are
favourites to earn promotion to senior ranks.
GALWAY FINAL REPORT COURTESY CONNAUGHT TRIBUNE
little mercy in clear cut final win
WE are baffled no more. Oranmore/Maree hurlers finally
shattered their reputation as under-achievers when crushing surprise packets
Kilconieron in a one-sided Galway Intermediate showdown at Duggan Park on
It had been perplexing why a club with access to a rising
sporting population, led by two Galway senior players and with plenty of
quality back up talent, remained marooned in the intermediate ranks. Well,
Oranmore/Maree’s day of liberation has at last arrived.
Though appearing in their first county final since losing
narrowly to Kiltormer in 2001, Oranmore/Maree had been knocking on the door to
achieving a breakthrough over recent seasons and you could see that they had
the potential to compete at a higher level. But this had been said about them
before, leaving their team with still plenty to prove in 2018.
With a high-profile team management – led by former Galway
star Gerry McInerney – put in place last winter, it was clear that Oranmore/Maree,
tired of their ‘nearly men’ status, were going to leave nothing to chance this
year and, as it transpired, they proved a cut above the rest throughout the
Coming into a county final burdened with the mantle of
strong favourites brings additional pressure, but Oranmore/Maree thrived in
this environment on Saturday as they flew out of the starting blocks in romping
to a 14-point victory over a Kilconieron outfit which was beaten all over the
Though every team is entitled to bouts of wishful thinking,
even some of their own supporters wouldn’t have expected Kilconieron to reach
the final. Their achievement was in getting so far, but this was one challenge
too many for their largely young squad although they should benefit from the
experience, tough as it was.
Trailing by 1-5 to 0-2 after just 10 minutes, Kilconieron
were already on the backfoot as they struggled to cope with Oranmore/Maree’s
greater athleticism, intensity and quality. Their defence was under pressure
from the off while, at the other end of the field, only one of their starting
forwards managed to find the mark from play.
In contrast, Oranmore/ Maree had no shortage of scoring
options and if impressive duo, Niall Burke and Sean McInerney, did most of the
damage, they had plenty of support in Alan Burke, who wasted no time in getting
to the pitch of the battle, Padraic Keane and Ross Malone. Overall, they
performed to a higher standard, with hardly a weak link in their ranks.
REPORT COURTESY OF CONNAUGHT TRIBUNE
Tooreen (Mayo) 1-15
THIS Connacht intermediate club hurling final showdown may
not fall under the heading of epic,. but what Oranmore/Maree and defending
provincial champions Tooreen served up in this thoroughly entertaining decider
in Athleague on Saturday was nothing short of absorbing from start to finish.
To synopsis, Oranmore/Maree started like a bullet train
racing through Continental Europe before Tooreen uprooted the tracks to derail
the Galway holders’ efforts. The fare was tough, physical and uncompromising
and this was reflected in Tooreen being reduced to 13 men by the close of
And yet, despite their numerical advantage, Oranmore/Maree
had it all to do against a driven Tooreen outfit that were only outscored by a
single point in the second period. The hunger and will to win they showed was a
credit to the 2017 Connacht champions’ commitment and ambition.
However, nothing should be taken from Oranmore/Maree who led
from the outset of this contest. To the fore in this respect was Galway’s Niall
Burke as he concluded the day with 1-10 to his name, 1-5 from play. Ross
Malone, who was on fire in the opening half, and Alan Burke also contributed
three points apiece while Sean McInerney hit two.
Indeed, where Tooreen, trained by Galway’s Nigel
Shaughnessy, relied on the free-taking of Shane Boland and Sean Kenny,
Oranmore/Maree were better at generating their scores from play, despite the
Mayo champions deploying a sweeper – even when they went down to 14 men.
The crucial score from the victors’ point of view though was
in first half-injury time when defender Alan Bannon found Malone and, while his
shot for potentially his fourth point from play fell short, the in-rushing
Niall Burke was on hand to flick the sliotar to the net to give his side a 1-9
to 0-8 interval lead.
Had that goal not manifested itself, it could have been a
very different Oranmore/Maree dressing-room at half-time, particularly after
they allowed a five-point eighth minute advantage to slip when Tooreen
remarkably drew level at 0-8 apiece just before the break.
Tooreen, the Mayo and reigning Connaught champions certainly put it up to the Galway men despite going down to 13 men before running out of steam and losing by five but that performance shows that Oranmore/Maree are not unbeatable and if St. Gall’s can bring their A game to the table on Sunday then they won’t be far away.
Oranmore/Maree joint captains, Niall Burke and Gearóid
McInerney, raise the Connacht Intermediate Cup aloft after defeating Toureen of
Mayo in the provincial decider in Athleague on Saturday. Photos: Brian Harding.