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Bryan Keane/INPHO

O’Loughlin Gaels edge Cushendall to seal All-Ireland club SHC final spot

Brian Hogan’s Kilkenny city outfit were mightily relieved to see off the Ulster champions.

AIB All-Ireland club SHC semi-final

O’Loughlin Gaels (Kilkenny) 1-17

Cushendall (Antrim) 1-16

Paul Keane reports from Pairc Tailteann, Navan

A DOZEN years on from their one and only All-Ireland club SHC final appearance, O’Loughlin Gaels have another national decider to look forward to.

But Brian Hogan’s Kilkenny city outfit were mightily relieved to see off Ulster champions Cushendall in a terrific semi-final contest in Navan that was eventually decided by David Fogarty’s 63rd-minute winning point.

O’Loughlin Gaels, beaten in that 2011 All-Ireland final by Clarinbridge, will face Galway opposition once again with St Thomas’ set to stand in the opposite corner on the weekend of January 20/21 at Croke Park.

They truly are masters of the narrow win because after winning their county and Leinster finals by a single point, they have done the same once again.

Free-taker Mark Bergin top scored for the three-times Leinster champions with 0-9 while Sean Bolger registered their only goal.

Cushendall, chasing just a second semi-final win ever despite being 12-time Ulster champions, will kick themselves for letting this one slip away.

They led by three points at half-time and had enough possession in the second half to finish it out but struck seven wides in that period and dropped several more score attempts short.

Even at that, Neil McManus, who hit 0-9 for the Antrim side, had a late, late attempt for an equaliser to force extra time but his pot shot flew just wide.

This was billed as a David versus Goliath encounter between an O’Loughlin Gaels side that had taken down the might of All-Ireland holders Ballyhale Shamrocks before even embarking on their successful provincial campaign and a Cushendall side that has always struggled at this stage of the competition.

Perhaps the Ruairi Og men didn’t get that pre-match memo because they burst out of the blocks and had 1-4 on the board inside the opening six minutes.

Veteran McManus, freshly retired from the inter-county game with Antrim, wore number 11 but immediately moved to the edge of the square and was picked up by All-Star full-back Huw Lawlor. Kilkenny’s other current All-Star defender, Mikey Butler, tracked teenage sensation Joseph McLaughlin.

But it was McManus and McLaughlin that got the better of the early exchanges, McManus scoring the opening point and setting up another and McLaughlin surging through for a fifth-minute goal.

Butler cursed the concession as he’d initially been turned over on the right wing, allowing McLaughlin to skip clear and plant a shot beyond goalkeeper Stephen Murphy.

Mark Bergin, who struck the winning point for O’Loughlin Gaels in their Leinster final win over Na Fianna, pulled back a score but Cushendall responded with two more themselves. Approaching the quarter-hour mark, the Ulster champions led 1-6 to 0-1 and it was clear we had a game on our hands.

The stiff wind was a definite advantage to Brian Delargy’s side and centre-back Eoghan Campbell boomed over two long-range scores. Fellow defender Paddy Burke did the same.

O’Loughlin Gaels finished the half strongly though and a series of points from county panellist Conor Heary and Bergin preceded Bolger’s 26th-minute goal.

All eyes were on the individual head-to-head between Martin Burke and speedy Gaels attacker Owen Wall but the real intrigue turned out to be around the battle between Paddy Burke and full-forward Luke Hogan. Hogan beat his man to a high ball before blasting a shot that was only partially saved, allowing Bolger to tap in from close range.

Cushendall still hit the interval with a 1-10 to 1-7 lead but O’Loughlin Gaels, who also went close with first-half goal chances from Hogan and Bolger, were now right back in it and, crucially, had the wind in the second half.

Cushendall, who hit the woodwork twice in the first half, including a 21st-minute Ed McQuillan goal chance that cracked off an upright, must have wondered if they’d made enough of the elements.

O’Loughlin Gaels certainly restarted with intent, reeling off three points from Bergin and Eoin O’Shea to tie it up at 1-10 apiece.

The five-times Kilkenny champions finally took the lead in the 51st minute when Bergin punished a turnover in the Cushendall defence. Jack Nolan stretched the Gaels lead to two points, 1-16 to 1-14, as Cushendall started to rack up the wides at the other end.

It was a thrill-a-minute ride, much like last night’s first semi-final between victors St Thomas’ and Ballygunner.

Cushendall, typically, got it back to level again at 1-16 apiece but when the need was greatest, Fogarty stood up with the winner for an O’Loughlin Gaels side that breathed a huge sigh of relief at the final whistle.

O’Loughlin Gaels scorers: Mark Bergin 0-9 (0-5f), Sean Bolger 1-1, David Fogarty 0-2, Conor Heary 0-2, Eoin O’Shea 0-1, Paddy Deegan 0-1, Jack Nolan 0-1.

Cushendall scorers: Neil McManus 0-9 (0-7f), Joseph McLaughlin 1-1, Eoghan Campbell 0-2, Ronan McAteer 0-1, Ryan McCambridge 0-1, Ed McQuillan 0-1, Paddy Burke 0-1.


1. Stephen Murphy

4. Mikey Butler

3. Huw Lawlor

2. Tony Forristal

5. David Fogarty

6. Paddy Deegan

7. Jordan Molloy

8. Jack Nolan

9. Cian Loy

12. Conor Heary

10. Mark Bergin (Captain)

11. Eoin O’Shea

13. Owen Wall

22. Luke Hogan

15. Sean Bolger


21. Conor Kelly for Bolger (44)

18. Jamie Ryan for Nolan (55)

14. Paddy Butler for O’Shea (57)


1. Conor McAlister

3. Liam Gillan

2. Paddy Burke

4. Martin Burke

5. Scott Walsh

6. Eoghan Campbell

20. Ruairi McCollam

8. Francis McCurry

9. Ryan McCambridge

19. Ed McQuillan

23. Niall McCormack

10. Ronan McAteer

12. Fergus McCambridge

11. Neil McManus (Captain)

15. Joseph McLaughlin


13. Sean McAfee for McAteer (23)

24. Alex Delargy for McCormack (h/t)

7. Aidan McNaughton for Gillan (h/t)

17. Stephen Walsh for McCollam (48-f/t, blood)

14. Christy McNaughton for McCurry (59)

Referee: Michael Kennedy (Tipperary).

Written by Paul Keane and posted on

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