Belief was key for Rynagh's - Hogan
St Rynagh's 0-16 Birr 1-12, Offaly SHC final
Ken Hogan has hailed the belief and composure of his St Rynagh's charges after they stormed back from the brink to claim their 18th Offaly SHC title in Tullamore yesterday.
It looked bleak for the Banagher men when they fell 1-3 to 0-0 behind after an early Birr blitzkrieg capped by Eoghan Cahill's third minute goal, and even more desolate when they still trailed by seven after 43 minutes.
But, in a total transformation, they outscored their arch-rivals by nine points to one down the home straight.
Six of those points came from the bench, four alone from Stephen Quirke, and the spectacular comeback was crowned by Joseph O'Connor's winner in the second of five stoppage-time minutes.
"You can talk about hurling and ability but, when it comes to the crunch, it comes down to what is between the ears. You have the heart but you have to believe and be composed," said Hogan, the former Tipp boss who has led Rynagh's to the summit in his first season.
"We spoke about trust at half-time and about belief, but the critical thing was that we kept our composure and kept knocking over the points. We said we had to trust our instincts and anyone that would accuse St Rynagh's of not having the bottle to win ... the question marks were there but today they proved that wrong."
Those questions were ringing loudest after they tallied just 0-4, to Birr's 1-7, in the first half. But once they found their range, "it just clicked," Hogan reflected.
"You see the Man of the Match, Stephen Quirke - it was a very tough job for me during the week to tell Stephen that he wasn't lining out. He came on with the right attitude. He created tremendous openings, created space and got the scores for us."
Scorers - St Rynagh's: S Quirke 0-4, S Dolan, A Treacy (1 '65', 1f) 0-3 each, D Horan 0-2, G Kelly, A Kenny (f), R Hughes, J O'Connor 0-1 each. Birr: E Cahill 1-5 (3f), C Mulrooney 0-3, B Murphy, C Taylor, M Watkins, P Mullins 0-1 each.
St Rynagh's: C Clancy; S Wynne, C Hernon, D Shortt; M Maloney, B Conneely, P Quirke; J O'Connor, G Kelly; G Conneely, R Hughes, C Flannery; S Dolan, A Treacy, A Kenny. Subs: S Quirke for Flannery (28), D Horan for G Conneely (ht), L O'Connor for Kenny (48), G Conneely for Kelly (58), Flannery for Horan (inj 62).
Birr: B Mullins; O Murphy, D Watkins, J Irwin; B Watkins, P Cleary, S Ryan; B Murphy, S Lonergan; C Mulrooney, D Hayden, C Taylor; B Harding, M Watkins, E Cahill. Subs: P Mullins for Harding (inj 12), M Verney for Hayden (50), D Quegan for P Mullins (55), E Pilkington for B Watkins (inj, 59), T Bolger for Lonergan (64).
Ref: K Dooley (Drumcullen).