Oranmore/Maree show little mercy in clear-cut final win

Oranmore/Maree's Rian Maher and Kilconeiron's Paul Uniacke compete for the ball during the Galway Intermediate hurling final at Duggan Park, Ballinasloe. Photos: Brian Harding.
Oranmore/Maree's Rian Maher and Kilconeiron's Paul Uniacke compete for the ball during the Galway Intermediate hurling final at Duggan Park, Ballinasloe. Photos: Brian Harding.

Oranmore/Maree 3-19

Kilconieron 1-11

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 Saturday.

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 campaign.

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 field.

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.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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