Ryan sparkles as Loughrea men live up to expectations

Loughrea 1-21

Clarinbridge 2-16

NO team had laid a glove on Loughrea in their canter to the senior hurling championship quarter-finals and Clarinbridge rarely threatened to land a knock-out blow to last year’s county finalists’ title hopes at Pearse Stadium on Sunday.

Though the final scoreline might suggest otherwise, this was a relatively comfortable day at the office for a Jamie Ryan inspired Loughrea outfit which now has Turloughmore barring their path to a second consecutive appearance on Galway club hurling’s biggest occasion.

Only for conceding goals at the end of both halves, Tommy Kelly’s athletic and classy squad would have ended up with a margin of victory more reflective of their superiority in a last-eight clash which though competitive didn’t quite reach the expected heights.

Loughrea have been touted all season as the best equipped force to end St Thomas’ stranglehold on the Tom Callanan Cup, but it’s a mantle which rests easily on their shoulders judging by the way they kept Clarinbridge at bay in Salthill. They were always able to pull out that little extra anytime their opponents got close to them.

In front of a modest crowd, Loughrea confirmed their status as a talented and emerging team. They are extremely well balanced with lots of quality stickmen speckled around the pitch. They have physique too and are picking up invaluable experience all the time.

Ryan was their star turn on Sunday – how he hasn’t got an extended run with Galway over the years remains baffling – as he accounted for a healthy 11 points of Loughrea’s total. He might have spurned a couple of frees, but overall led the Loughrea victory charge.

Pictured: Loughrea’s Jamie Ryan is chased by Oisín Salmon of Clarenbridge during Sunday’s Senior A hurling quarter-final at Pearse Stadium. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

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