Extra-time heartbreak for hurlers of Cloughmills in All-Ireland Club clash in London
All-Ireland Club Intermediate Hurling Championship quarter-final: Robert Emmet’s 0-16 (London) St Brigid’s, Cloughmills (Antrim) 0-14 (aet)
IT has been an historic few months for St Brigid’s, Cloughmills but Geoffrey Laverty admits it will take some time for his players to get over the manner in which their season was brought to an end.
The Ulster champions suffered extra-time heartbreak in London on Saturday as Robert Emmetts snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
The London champions equalised in the second minute of injury-time to force two added periods and, although they pulled three points clear on two occasions, St Brigid’s were inches away from forcing a replay when Michael Devlin’s last-gasp free flew narrowly over the crossbar.
“Emmetts are an excellent team and we wish them good luck in the semi-finals, but it’s hard to take. We put a lot of work into this,” said Cloughmills manager Laverty.
“The boys gave everything today but that’s hurling. We’ve had plenty of good times this year and this is the other end of the scale. It’s going to be a tough few days.
“We’ve had a very successful year but it’ll be doom and gloom for the next couple of weeks.
“We won our first Ulster intermediate championship and that was a nice piece of history but, at the end of the day, the goal was to go forward. It was everybody’s dream to get to Croke Park.”
Some of the St Brigid’s players were unable to hold back the tears after the final whistle as their AllIreland dreams went up in smoke.
They had displayed superior levels of fitness on a bog of a pitch in Greenford and their physicality unsettled the Londoners.
St Brigid’s raced into an early lead with Devlin quickly finding his range, but their high-pressure approach led to the concession of a flurry of frees inside scoring range, which Douglas native Richie Murphy duly converted.
The free-taking duo accounted for eight of the 10 first-half points, the sides level at 0-5 apiece at the short whistle, and the duel continued into the second half with Liam Kearns also converting a couple of close-range scores for the visitors.
Devlin put Cloughmills two points in front with 14 minutes remaining but they were unable to add to their tally in normal time.
Emmett’s upped the ante and although some last-ditch defending by the visitors denied them a sniff at goal, two late frees from Murphy drew the hosts level.
St Brigid’s could still have snatched victory but Geoffrey Og Laverty failed to punish a poor clearance and Owen Kinney was also off target, while Murphy missed a long-range free at the other end as it ended 0-10 to 0-10.
Cloughmills cancelled out three unanswered points from Emmett’s in the first period of extra-time but when the home side repeated the feat in the second period it proved a step too far.
Devlin went agonisingly close late doors but his powerful effort went the wrong side of the crossbar.
“St Brigid’s are a good, tough team,” said Robert Emmett’s manager Kevin McMullan, who is a native of Cushendall.
“It was two titanic teams hitting each other with everything they had. Two points is nothing in a game of hurling. It was a hard-fought win and hopefully that will stand to us the next day.”
Robert Emmett’s: S Ryan; M Conroy, S Griffey, C Walsh; T Healy, P Horkan, P Breen; T Lawrence (0-2), M O Laodha; E Kenny, R Murphy (0-12 frees), K Morrisey; D Roberts (0-2), E Kenny, C Keogh.
Subs: D Regan for O Laodha (38), F McMahon for Breen (43), M Dwyer for Keogh (52), E Chawke for Kenny (52), M Fitzpatrick for Morrisey (57), Kenny for Healy (68), Morrisey for Regan (76).
St Brigid’s, Cloughmills: C McKiernan; S Martin, JB McGuckian, S McKendry; M Morrison, A Smiley, R Laverty; C Laverty, M Devlin (0-9, 0-7 frees, 0-1 65); L Cassley, J Doherty, S Smyth (0-2); G Og Laverty, O Kinney, L Kearns (0-3 frees).
Subs: M Dobbin for Cassley (h-t, ET), J Smyth for Laverty (73).
Referee: J Keane (Galway)