Ulster Intermediate Hurling Championship Final
Setanta 1-16 Eire Og 2-11
Eire Óg went into Saturday’s Ulster Intermediate Final against Setanta with a fair degree of confidence and self belief following wins over Lisbellaw and Creggan in their Ulster campaign. Unfortunately for them they didn’t get to the performance levels of those two games and, in the first half particularly, looked undercooked and off the pace.
The Tyrone champions appeared somewhat subdued during the opening half as a Gerard Gilmore inspired Setanta side reached the break leading by six on a 0-11 to 0-5 scoreline. Eire Óg went in at the break asking themselves questions and wondering how they went from five points apiece after twenty minutes to be six behind at the short whistle. The Eire Óg first half points came from Conn Sweeney, Justy Kelly and Dermot Begley (3) while Oisin Marley, Cronolly Mc Gee and Danny Cullen contributed along with Gilmore to the Setanta tally.
Aidy Kelly came into the game for Eire Óg just before the break and immediately added a real scoring threat to the tie but the loss of Ruairi Slane early in the second half to a red card was a blow for the Tyrone champions. In spite of their numerical disadvantage the Carrickmore based side showed tremendous courage as they battled back to tie the game ten minutes into the second half. Points from Aidy Kelly (2) and Sean Óg Grogan and a Dean Rafferty penalty had the sides level and Setanta looked rattled.
Unfortunately Eire Óg could not get in front and the Donegal side always had Gilmore as an out. Gilmore, Declan Coulter and Oisin Marley got points that kept them in front while Sean Ward’s goal was a hammer blow to the Tyrone champions who had worked so hard to get to within a point of their opponents following a couple of converted frees from Aidan Kelly.
Eire Óg maintained the pressure on the Setanta defence but with Kevin Campbell in goals looking assured and composed throughout they did not look like cracking.
As the game headed into added time it was clear Eire Óg needed a quick goal. Unfortunately for them it came with less than a minute remaining from the stick of Aidan Kelly and was very much a case of too little too late.