Silver Hill Foods Senior Hurling Championship Final
Castleblayney 2-16 Inniskeen 1-7 11/9/11
Castleblayney regained the Senior Hurling Championship title with a comfortable win over defending champions Inniskeen in the final at Clontibret on Sunday. Blayney lost to Inniskeen in last year’s decider, ending their seven-in-a-row bid, but they were always the better team in this game, inspired by Mickey McHugh, who hit 1-11. Inniskeen were never able to hit the heights of last year, not helped by an early injury to goalkeeper Gerard Ruddy and the sending-off of Ronan Meegan with 20 minutes left. A late burst of 2-2, including goals by McHugh and Barry Reilly, finally put daylight between the teams on the scoreboard, but in truth it was deserved recognition of Blayney’s superiority.
McHugh was ably assisted by Reilly and Hugh Byrne up front, while Gary Boyd and Peter Treanor held the edge in midfield and the Blayney defence was solid, led by Paul Murphy, Jimmy Lacey and Mark Treanor. Ronan and Paul Meegan, Trevor Hilliard and Séamus Loftus worked hard for Inniskeen, but to no avail.
Blayney were first off the mark with a good point by Barry Reilly at the end of one of his trademark runs, but Inniskeen got a lucky break on four minutes when a foul on Séamus Shevlin allowed Ronan Meegan to send in a 30-metre free which went all the way to the net. Mickey McHugh replied with his first point of the game from a 30-metre free after a foul on Peter Treanor, before David Connolly linked up with Hugh Byrne, only to have his goal-attempt blocked by Inniskeen keeper Gerard Ruddy. That was Ruddy’s last action of the game as he was forced off by a collarbone injury, with David McGahon moving into goals and TJ Byrne coming on outfield.
McHugh converted a ’65 before adding a point from play to edge Blayney ahead, but Michael Lennon equalised with a point from a 40-metre free after a foul on TJ Byrne. Ronan Meegan linked up with Trevor Hilliard for a well-taken point to regain the advantage for Inniskeen, but that was the last time they were to lead. McGahon blocked a goalbound effort from Fergal Rafter when a McHugh ’65 fell short, but McHugh won and scored a 30-metre free before powering a 65-metre free over the bar, following a foul on Rafter. A long-range free from McHugh almost led to a goal for Blayney, when Hugh Byrne had a shot deflected around the post, before McHugh tapped over a brace of 30-metre frees after fouls on Reilly and Rafter. That was enough to give Blayney a three-point lead at half-time on a scoreline of 0-8 to 1-2.
Ronan Meegan sent a first-time effort over the bar to get the first the score of the second half, but McHugh hit back with a point from play after good work by Gary Boyd and Brian McGuigan. Ronan Meegan won and scored a 50-metre free to keep Inniskeen in touch, but the Grattans’ top scorer was sent off in the tenth minute of the half after an off-the-ball incident involving Paddy Collins. Hugh Byrne sent over a well-taken point from out on the left wing and McHugh converted a 50-metre free for a foul on Boyd, before nailing another ’65 after a Rafter shot had been turned around the post. Séamus Loftus ended 16 scoreless minutes for Inniskeen when he pointed a ’65, but Byrne got on the end of a Jim McHugh pass to keep Blayney well clear. Hilliard hit a fine point from play, before setting off on a great run to create a goal chance for Martin Murphy, but his shot was blocked by Mark Treanor.
Blayney pulled away in the dying minutes – their late surge started by a cracking goal from Reilly, who had won a long ball from David Connolly. Rafter quickly tagged on a point – punishing a poor puck-out – before Mickey McHugh hit his 11th point from a 30-metre free after a foul on McGuigan. Another long delivery by Connolly allowed Byrne to tee up McHugh for Blayney’s second goal in injury-time and although Inniskeen kept going until the end, they were denied a late consolation goal when Blayney keeper Ronan McAteer was equal to Michael Lennon’s shot. Lennon finished the scoring with a point from a free, following a foul on PJ Boyle, but it was Blayney’s day as they secured their 11th SHC title in 13 years. Peter Treanor accepted the Mick Quigley Cup from county chairman Paul Curran, while Mickey McHugh was the unanimous choice for the Man-of-the-Match award.
Castleblayney: R McAteer; P Collins, P Murphy, J Lacey; D Bolger, J McHugh, M Treanor; P Treanor (Capt.), G Boyd; F Rafter (0-1), D Connolly, B McGuigan; B Reilly (1-2), M McHugh (1-11, 0-7f, 0-2 ‘65s), H Byrne (0-2).
Inniskeen: G Ruddy; P Dooley, P Dowdall, B McArdle; P Meegan (Capt.), S Loftus (0-1, ’65), PJ Boyle; G Dooley, T Hilliard (0-1); M Lennon (0-2f), D McGahon, S Shevlin; G Boylan, M Murphy, R Meegan (1-3, 1-1f).
Subs: TJ Byrne for Ruddy (inj., 7 mins), C Meegan for Boylan (44).
Referee: S McKenna (Carrickmacross).