Burke to the fore for Galway champions in physical provincial showdown

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.
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.

Oranmore/Maree 1-20

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 business.

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 freetaking 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.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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