Underdogs they may have entering this year’s Leitrim Senior Hurling Championship Final but Gortletteragh, inspired in main by a tremendous showing from the four Beirne brothers, upset favourites Manorhamilton in an entertaining Replay last Saturday in Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada.
By John Connolly
With Man of the Match Tomas leading the way, the Beirne show was crucial to Gortletteragh’s victory, Niall weighing in with two vital first half goals, Mark a crucial presence in extra time and Conor providing Gortletteragh with a rock solid defence, Gortletteragh’s victory was nevertheless a fantastic team effort.
The new champions certainly haven’t the hurling played this year, or any other year, that Manorhamilton have but on a heavy and wet pitch, their physical power and relish for the battle were the key factors in what has to be regarded as a massive shock.
With a strong central spine manned by the Beirnes, Seamus Mallon at centre-back and Cathal McCrann in midfield, allied with strong displays from keeper Tommy McLoughlin, Kevin McGrath and Sean Costello, Gortletteragh’s spirit and determination was something that Manorhamilton couldn’t stifle or match.
Manorhamilton dominated the second half but were unable to generate the range of scoring or the goals that proved so vital to Gortletteragh, their over-reliance on the free-taking of Gary Hickey to generate scores costing them dearly.
But if Manorhamilton dominated the second half, Gortletteragh dominated extra-time and only for some bad wides in the first period of extra time, they could have been out of sight before Conor Beirne made a wonderful interception in added time to prevent the north Leitrim men from grabbing a match winning goal.
Tomas Beirne deservedly took the man of the match honours, his physical presence driving on Gortletteragh and stopping Manorhamilton from generating the sort of possession they needed while his long deliveries into brother Niall led to two crucial goals in the first half.
To read the full story see this week’s Leitrim Observer.