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Mighty Kilmaley
Kilmaley 0-10, Eire Og, Ennis 0-8
Hill-Keane Switch proves Decisive
Senior Hurling Championship Final Report, by Seamus Hayes

 Clare Champion, Friday, September 13. 1985. (Article supplied by Patsy Doohan)

Astute positional switches allied to tremendous determination were the chief ingredients in Kilmaley’s historic success in the 1985 Clare Senior hurling championship. In the final at Cusack Park they beat a highly fancied Eire Og side before and attendance, which paid £12,282, which was up on last year and represents 8,000 people

There were unprecedented scenes of joy when referee John Nihill blew the final whistle to signal Kilmaley’s first ever success in the premier competition in Clare hurling. While Eire Og entered the contest as favourites, few can deny that Kilmaley deserved their success. They displayed the greater hunger for success throughout and were first to the ball, particularly in the second half when they edged in front.

The fact that the standard of hurling wasn’t particularly high won’t upset Kilmaley too much as their celebrations continue. After a rather nervous start they settled down to have the better of matters for most of the hour and their defence came out of this game with full honours. Eire Og did have a number of good opportunities in the opening quarter but these were wasted. In fact they could only manage two points in that period and both these came from Declan Coote frees but Coote, Sean Heaslip and Martin Nugent were all guilty of some’ bad misses.
Just as Eire Og looked to be getting the upper hand ten minutes from ‘the break, Kilmaley made what proved to be the match winning move. Tommy Keane, hero of the semi-final games with Sixmilebridge, was having a lot of difficulty against Ennis captain Sean Heaslip and the Kilmaley mentors decided to move Paddy Hill to centre back in a switch with Keane. Hill went on to turn in the proverbial blinder while Keane made many fine clearances from the corner back position.
When the teams resumed for the second half with the score at 0-4 each, the Kilmaley mentors had made another positional switch which was to have a vital bearing on the outcome. Martin Meehan was now positioned at corner forward in a switch with John Cahill and in the opening six minutes of this moiety Meehan flashed over three points as Kilmaley stepped up the pace. Kilmaley were never again to lose the lead although the losers did fight back to within a point of their opponents on two occasions. 
Every one of the seventeen players who participated In Sunday’s game, for the winners, contributed in a big way to the victory. The defence was superb with Hill, Martin Darcy and Noel McGuane to the fore in front of brilliant goalkeeper P. J. Kennedy who was an inspiring captain
On the other hand Eire Og had a number of weak links. The left flank of their defence was very poor in the opening quarter and it wasn’t any surprise to see Sean McCarthy being introduced five minutes from the break. He replaced Pascal Mahon who had no answer to the speed and skill of Seamie Fitzpatrick. Indeed Mahon had been spoken to twice by the referee before being replaced. Behind him Gerry Barry was never happy. There was considerable surprise, not just in Ennis, when Sean McCarthy was omitted from the starting line-up. The 20 year old was one of the stars of the team in the competition to date and he certainly did well after being introduced in last week’s final.

The Ennis side were also in trouble at midfield where Mickey O’Sullivan was always struggling. Midway through the first half he was moved to wing forward and from there to the corner before being replaced for the second half by his Shannon Gaels club mate Michael Ryan, Then Ennis forward line met with little success over the hour and the fact that Pa Lynch, Noel Ryan and Martin Nugent all failed to score, speaks volumes for the magnificant Kilmaley back line.

Over the hour Kilmaley controlled midfield where Martin Cahill and Eugene McMahon did a lot of work. Cahill, who is still under 17, was outstanding from start to finish and his partner Eugene McMahon gave him tremendous support at all times.
Up front Seamus Fitzpatrick’s speed caused many problems for the Eire Og defence throughout the hour while Martin Meehan, John Mungovan and Gerry Kennedy all posed problems for the Ennis men.
In the final two minutes Eire Og launched a couple of attacks in an attempt to pull the game out of the fire. Still the winners back line refused to wilt and they thwarted a number of Ennis efforts. As seconds ticked away Kilmaley launched one last desperate effort and Kilmaley hearts must have fluttered when John Nihill signalled for a penalty after Noel Ryan was judged to have been fouled while in possession in the square.
Eire Og team captain Sean Heaslip was given the task of taking the free but to the delight of the huge Kilmaley following his effort was saved at the expense of a ‘65 and seconds later Cusack Park was a mass of blue and white as Kilmaley players jumped for joy. Having started the competition as rank outsiders they had confounded hurling followers throughout the county by taking the Canon Hamilton trophy.

It must certainly be the highlight of the club’s history to date and few if any, will begrudge them the success. The celebrations have continued throughout the week and Thursday morning last members of the team visited the national schools in the parish with the trophy and treated the children to some refreshments.
Before the game the team members were introduced to The President of Ireland, Dr. P. Hillery by the respective captains P. J. Kennedy, Kilmaley, and Sean Heaslip, Eire 0g. After the pre-match parade, which was led by the Tulla pipers band, the Kilmaley players came together in the middle of the field for a final word of encouragement from captain Kennedy and then it was down to the task on hand.

Kilmaley’s huge following got plenty to cheer about and at the final whistle followers, officials and players alike openly wept.

The present set of players had extended a marvellous record and added the senior crown to under 16, minor, u. 21 junior and intermediate honours won over the last fifteen years. It was only fitting that P. J. Kennedy; one of the players who figured in all those successes should have had the honour of leading the 1985 senior team. He certainly was a proud man when presented with the trophy by hurling board chairman Robert Frost. The board official paid tribute to both teams for a sporting contest and congratulated Kilmaley on their great achievement.
An obviously thrilled P. J. Kennedy paid tribute to all members of the Kilmaley panel for their dedication to training throughout the year and he paid special tribute to the selectors, trainer, coach and team manager. Kilmaley are now looking forward to the Munster club championship in which they will be at home, in the opening round to the Cork champions

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