22nd June @ Conneff Park, Clane
Celbridge 2-13 Ardclough 1-11
Celbridge claimed their third Senior Hurling League final win in a row with a five point win over Ardclough at Conneff Park, Clane.
Just over two months since Celbridge won last year’s delayed SHL final, they retained the cup after a strong second half display.
The reigning champions took the lead after ninety seconds thanks to a Sam White free, but that was soon cancelled out by a Martin Fitzgerald point, also from a placed ball.
Wides from both sides were to follow, and the ball rarely rested in one half of the field for long in the opening exchanges.
Celbridge’s two goals were vital to their success and their first came after some well-worked attacking play. Sam White sent the ball in from midfield to Gerry Keegan, who then sprinted goalwards before finding Conor Kenny with a handpass. Kenny gathered and his rasping shot finding the top corner of the Ardclough net.
Ardclough tried to hit back with goals of their own. Richie Hoban tried his luck with a 21 metre free, only to be denied by Celbridge keeper Niall Lanigan. And two minutes later Hoban was again denied, this time Cathal Earley stopping his free from a similar distance.
Paul Fitzgerald got two more points for Ardclough, either side of Conor Kenny effort for Celbridge, before Tony Spain gave Ardclough the half-time advantage. His solo-run ending with a point to earn his side the minimum lead at the break.
Cathal Fenton stretched Ardclough’s lead to two soon after the break, only for a long range free by Sam White to hit back for Celbridge.
Five minutes into the half, Ardclough were given a big boost with a goal of their own. Martin Fitzgerald took a ’65 which dropped short into Lanigan, who spilled possession under pressure. Ronan O’Malley pounced and pulled swiftly to find the net from close range.
From then on Celbridge improved to see off the Ardclough challenge in the final quarter of the game.
Celbridge’s running game aided their cause, especially the form of attacker Leo Quinn. After racing down the wing to score one of his three points, he gathered a breaking ball and set it goalwards. Mark Moloney reacted to the loose ball and guided the ball low to the net for Celbridge’s second goal of the game.
In the closing stages Ardclough stretched their lead with points from Gerry Keegan and Conor Kenny to insure Celbridge retained their title.
Aidan Buggle (captain); Niall Coulston, Enda Duane, Enda Hoey; Phillip Fitzgerald, Richie Hoban, Peter Coleman; Martin Fitzgerald 0-06 (4f’s, 2 65’s), Paul Fitzgerald 0-02; Tony Spain 0-01, Brian Coulston 0-01, Ronan O’Malley 1-00; Colm Buggy, Cathal Fenton 0-01, Johnny Reeves
Kailyn Domican for Phillip Fitzgerald, Paul Hogan for J.Reeves, Seán Buggy for C. Buggy
Niall Lanigan; Liam McDonagh, Patrick Curtain, Aidan McDonagh; Billy White, Niall Ó Muineacháin, Cathal Earley; Danny Butler 0-01, Sam White 0-06 (6f’s); Paddy Moloney, Seán O’Carroll, Mark Moloney (Captain) 1-00; Leo Quinn 0-03, Conor Kenny 1-04, Gerry Keegan 0-01
Marcus Kinsella for S. O’Carroll
Referee: Trevor Carew (Coill Dubh)