Loughrea hearts have broken once more on county final day, this time by old foes Portumna. Loughrea faced into this year’s final with renewed vigour after a few close calls over the last few years but on the day, couldn’t match Portumna’s second half display. Loughrea played with the wind in the first half and but for the concession of two goals from Joe Canning and man of the match Andy Smith, would have been well ahead at the break. However those two goals kept Portumna in touch before they kicked on in the second half to outscore their luckless opponents 1:07 to 0:03 and secure their sixth title in eleven years.
The match was overshadowed by the death of Galway hurler Niall Donoghue, with several players in both clubs having been teammates of the Kilbeacanty player at inter-county level. The game had been deferred from yesterday as a mark of respect and a minute silence was observed for Niall before the game.
When the game did begin Loughrea were slow out of the blocks and fell behind to points from Canning (free) and Andy Smith. Johnny Coen, who’s pace trouble the Portumna defence in the first half, scored Loughrea’s first point after five minutes to settle his side into the game. However, Canning laid down an early marker when blasting a 20 metre free to the net soon after. Loughrea did however get themselves back into the game through points from Johnny O’Loughlin, Jamie Ryan and three from Neil Keary (two frees) with Portumna registering scores from Leo Smith and Joe Canning to leave just the minimum between sides again. Then Loughrea were hit with another sucker punch when Andy Smith goaled from a narrow angle after twenty one minutes. Loughrea were resilient however and controlled the rest of the half outscoring the victors by five points to one. Paul Hoban, who was one of Loughrea best performers on the day, won a free which Keary pointed, before landing a huge point from distance himself. Spurred on by this, Loughrea hit further scores through Johnny O’Loughlin, after a wonderful catch from a puck out, Johnny Maher and another Keary free with Portumna’s sole response during this time coming through Joe Canning on twenty seven minutes. This left the teams level at break but on the resumption Portumna put on the after burners and “The Town” were left reeling. Andy Smith in particular was extremely productive in the second period shooting three points from play in a man of the match display. Loughrea, in total could only muster three points in that period with Jamie Ryan, Gavin Keary and Johnny Coen, from a penalty registering their only scores. Portumna pushed on with points from Joe and Ollie Canning, Smith and Damien Hayes who also got Portumnas second half goal which sealed the deal on their sixth ever county final victory. Loughrea who have reached 7 out of the last 11 finals have to reflect on another near miss but being the great club that they are, they will be back again, for if you can’t keep a good man down, it must completely impossible keep a club of them down!
Loughrea: Nigel Murray; Tom Regan, Damien McClearn, Eoin Mahony; Vinny Maher, Brian Mahony, Sean Sweeney; Emmet Mahony,(Thomas Hoban), Gavin Keary; Neil Keary, Paul Hoban; Johnny Coen, Johnny O’Loughlin, Johnny Maher, Jamie Ryan.
Portumna: Joe Keane; Gareth Heagney; Eugene McEntee, Conor O’Hare; Michael Ryan(Owen Treacy), Martin Dolphin, Eoin Lynch, Leo Smith,(Peter Smith) Joe Canning,; Kevin Hayes, Damien Hayes, Ollie Canning, Niall Hayes, Andy Smith; Ronan O’Meara ( Oisin Royston).
Scorers for Loughrea: Neil Keary 0-5 (4fs), Jamie Ryan 0-2, Johnny O’Loughlin 0-2, Johnny Coen 0-2 (0-1 pen), Gavin Keary 0-1, Paul Hoban 0-1, Johnny Maher 0-1
Scorers for Portumna: Joe Canning 1-5 (1-3fs), Andy Smith 1-4, Damien Hayes 1-1, Leo Smith 0-1, Ollie Canning 0-1.
Referee: J Keane