Astonishing 12-point turnaround sees Oranmore/Maree claim All-Ireland title

Oranmore/Maree's Liam Keane gets his clearance away despite being surrounded by Charleville's Cathal Carroll, Darren Casey and Jack Doyle. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.
Oranmore/Maree's Liam Keane gets his clearance away despite being surrounded by Charleville's Cathal Carroll, Darren Casey and Jack Doyle. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Oranmore/Maree 2-18

Charleville (Cork) 1-15

STEPHEN GLENNON AT CROKE PARK

Attention all bird watchers: a phoenix has been spotted circling the skies over Oranmore/Maree this week.

It is understood the feathered friend has been a constant companion to the club’s hurlers since about 4pm on Sunday, around about the time the sliotar was thrown in for the second-half of a thrilling All-Ireland intermediate club hurling final. At that stage, the Phoenix rose out of nothing, spread its wings and announced its arrival.

Six points down to Charleville of Cork at the interval of this decider, Oranmore/Maree’s ambitions of claiming All-Ireland silverware at Croke Park had, it seemed, become as transient as ashes scattered in the February wind. Out of sorts and lacking any fluidity, they looked dead and buried at the interval.

Yet, somewhere, somehow, they conjured up the courage to produce a magnificent second half showing which, in turn, secured a famous victory for Galway hurling at GAA HQ. Despite other Galway teams appearing in the final on six previous occasions, never before had a side from the county won this competition. That was until last Sunday.

Over the course of the tie, the contrast in the fortunes of the two teams between the first and second periods was remarkable. Charleville were all speed, stickwork and swagger in the opening-half, but when the business end of this fixture duly arrived, it was Oranmore/Maree that showed the greater steel and resolve.

Manager Gerry McInerney would state afterwards that the management just called for greater effort – and to tighten up – when they addressed their charges at half-time but those words must have been dripping of a magic potion of some sort. For Oranmore/Maree were a different outfit after the interval.

They hit the ground running, and within 20 seconds, man-of-the-match Niall Burke, who would finish with 1-11, struck a fine point in what was not just a declaration of intent, but a vow to those promises that needed to be fulfilled. Oranmore/Maree got to work.

Further points from Burke – a free and two clinically-struck 65s – and brothers Sean and Gearoid McInerney had the arrears reduced to a goal, 0-13 to 1-13, by the three-quarter mark, with Galway centre-half back Gearoid McInerney’s 43rd minute point a particularly rousing score.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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