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Loughgiel dig deep to take final chance

Loughgiel 0-27 Na Piarsaigh 2-13

By Damien Mooney

DD Quinn will have a to forego the privilege of leading his county onto the field for the start of the 2012 National Hurling League — and the Loughgiel Shamrocks goalkeeper couldn’t be happier about it.

Quinn was named Antrim captain by new manager Jerry Wallis but after Saturday’s enthralling All-Ireland semi-final win over Munster champions Na Piarsaigh at Parnell Park, he’s gladly putting his return to county action of hold.

Loughgiel were superb throughout Saturday’s win, and led the Limerick men by six points, 0-17 to 1-8, with 10 minutes to go. However a late Na Piarsaigh charge, backboned by Robert Sheehan’s goal forced extra time with the scores tied at 0-18 to 2-12.

Man of the match Liam Watson — who finished the game on 0-16 — added five points in injury time alongside two Joey Scullion efforts to seal a deserved win for the Antrim champions who now face Offaly side Coolderry in the All-Ireland final on St Patrick’s Day.

“We were in a good position but seem to let them back into it at the end, but we got there anyway,” said Quinn.

“Every man out the field did their job extremely well and it showed on the scoreboard.”

Loughgiel’s last final appearance was in 1983, when they beat another Offaly side St Rynagh’s to win the title for the first and only time in their history. Last year they lost out at the semi-final stage to O’Loughlin Gaels.

“Last year definitely stood to us, you don’t realise how much it stands to you until the day,” Quinn said.

The early stages were nip and tuck, with the sides level five times by the 17th minute. Loughgiel then began to dominate, with Watson on fire from play and from frees, to open up a 0-11 to 0-5 lead.

A David Breen goal closed the gap to three at the break but Loughgiel again pulled away after the restart with Watson, Eddie McCloskey, Mark McFadden and Scullion all on target.

But again Na Piarsaigh fought back and with Sheehan closing the gap to one in the 63rd minute and Kevin Downes adding the equaliser with virtually the last puck of normal time.

The Ulster champions were not to be denied however and dominated extra time, outscoring Na Piarsaigh by 0-9 to 0-1.

Loughgiel: DD Quinn; P Gillan, N McGarry, R McCloskey; James Campbell, M Scullion, Johnny Campbell; B McAuley, M McFadden (0-1); L Watson (0-16, 0-9f, 0-1 ‘65’), Declan Laverty (0-2), E McCloskey (0-3); B McCarry (0-2), J Scullion (0-3), S Casey

Subs: D McCloskey for Declan Laverty, Declan Laverty for M McFadden, T McCloskey for P Gillen, Damian Laverty for S Casey.

Na Piarsaigh: P Kennedy; D Lynch, K Breen, K Bermingham; A Dempsey, J O’Brien, B Hartnett; C King (0-1), P Gleeson (0-1); S Dowling (0-6, 0-4f, 0-2 ‘65’), D Breen (1-2), S O’Neill (0-1); K Kennedy, K Downes (0-1), K Ryan. Subs: A Breen (0-1) for K Breen, J Madden for C King, R Sheehan (1-0) for S O’Neill

Referee: A Stapleton (Laois).

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