Eire Og Carrickmore 3-13
Eoghan Ruadh Dungannon 2-11
THREE years without a championship title mightn’t seem like an inordinate length of time – but for the Eire Ogs, it was a veritable lifetime.
The feeling was that back-to-back champions Eoghan Ruadh had surged ahead in Tyrone, and even though these two great rivals contest the final every year, Eire Og were perfectly primed to deliver an ambush on Saturday afternoon at Healy Park.
This time it was going to be different, and all the frustrations of the last few seasons were unleashed as they blitzed their shell-shocked opponents in a devastating 15-minute spell during the first-half.
The eighth minute: Sean Og Grogan charges towards goal with a defender hanging off him but somehow manages to wriggle free and blasts the ball to the back of the net.
The twenty second minute: Conor Grogan is in the middle of the park but angles an inch-perfect pass to Sean Og – and with the goal at his mercy and the opposition defence completely at sea, there was only ever going to be one outcome.
And then a matter of seconds later, a third goal: Eire Og veteran Grogan was playing like a man possessed, but this was a time for cool heads and even though the hat-trick was on he unselfishly laid the ball into the path of the on-rushing Cormac Munroe, whose smart finish opened up a 3-5 to 0-5 lead.
Suffice it to say the Eire Og supporters were in dreamland, while Dungannon fans must’ve wondered what on earth had happened to the team that were desperately unfortunate to lose last year’s Ulster Intermediate Championship final on penalties.
It looked like there was no way back for Eoghan Ruadh (they trailed 3-9 to 0-8 at the break), but they weren’t about to relinquish their grip on the Benburn Cup without a fight.
In deteriorating weather conditions – the final quarter was basically played in a monsoon – they came out and threw the kitchen sink at the Eire Ogs in what was a much more competitive second-half.
But even though they managed goals from Michael Ferguson and Kiefer Morgan, the men from Carrickmore held on for a famous triumph, and fittingly it was Tyrone chairman and Eire Og man Michael Kerr who presented the trophy to their inspirational captain Dermot Begley.
Elsewhere, Naomh Colmcille won the Junior decider in the curtain raiser with a 3-16 to 1-7 victory over Omagh St Enda’s, with Seamus O’Hagan leading the way with a personal tally of 1-8. However, it was a much-improved Omagh performance from last year’s final.
Buy tomorrow’s Tyrone Herald for full match reports and reaction from Saturday’s hurling finals at Healy Park