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'They're two very different experiences and it's great to be able to say I experienced both'

Gearoid McInerney added an All-Ireland intermediate club title to the Celtic Cross he won with Galway in 2017.

Gearoid McInerney and Niall Burke lift the trophy.
Gearoid McInerney and Niall Burke lift the trophy.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Kevin O’Brien reports from Croke Park

YESTERDAY AFTERNOON MARKED Gearoid McInerney’s third All-Ireland final at Croke Park since September 2017.

McInerney’s Oranmore-Maree overcame a six-point half-time deficit to claim All-Ireland intermediate honours against Munster champions Charleville, winning out by an impressive six points.

18 months ago McInerney and his clubmate Niall Burke helped Galway end a 29-year wait for the Liam MacCarthy Cup, while they fell to Limerick in last August’s decider.

Still, two wins from three finals at the Drumcondra venue isn’t a bad record by any means. 

It’s a rare feat to win All-Irelands with both club and county at Croke Park. How did the two compare, the 2017 All-Star is asked?

“The two of them are very special, very special moments in I suppose a small bit different ways,” he said. “Having grown up with a lot of the lads there makes it special.

It will be a lot tighter now going back home but winning an All-Ireland is massive too. They’re two very different experiences and it’s great to be able to say I experienced both of them.”

It was a family occasion with McInerney’s father Gerry, the legendary Tribe player, in charge of the team and his brother Sean playing a key role in attack. Sean posted 1-2 from play and won the decisive penalty for Burke’s killer 59th minute goal.

Gerry McInerney Oranmore-Maree boss and Galway legend Gerry McInerney. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

While seven Galway clubs have carved up 13 All-Ireland senior titles between them, no side from the county had won the intermediate grade before.

Six previous finalists were all defeated, before Ornamore-Maree pulled off a 12-point swing in the second period to deservedly take the honours. Charleville had two men sent-off in the second period for seperate off-the-ball incidents and it swung the momentum in Ornamore-Maree’s favour.

“It isn’t about the first, it’s about being the best at intermediate,” said manager Gerry McInerney.

“We’re the best now, sure who’ve we to beat?” he laughed. “Is there anyone else to play in it?

We were a bit nervous in the start and we weren’t picking up our men. The quick puck-outs kind of killed us and they worked the ball up very fast up through the middle. Niall was keeping us in it in the forwards, but we were all over the shop.

“We had a few hard calls against us too, we thought we were very hard done by in the first-half. We got in at half-time, regrouped and we had a lot of energy in the room.

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“We took quick puck-outs and he whistled it back how many times. It ended up okay.

“We had to mark up. We had to take man-for-man. Once we started doing that, we knew. There was big energy in the team coming out, a lot of energy there.

“It went up a lot. The energy was in the room so we brought it onto the field. We hadn’t hurled in the first-half as such. The message was to take a man, mark up and no quick puck-outs. Everybody threw off the shackles and they went for.”

Niall Burke, who shot the lights out with a tally of 1-11, added: “It wasn’t looking good for us for long stages but we say a few areas that we could improve on at half-time.

“We were maybe coming out second best towards the breaking ball and ruck ball in the middle third and we weren’t tracking the runners or getting hands on them,” Burke said.

So we rectified that at half-time, we were a bit more in their faces and I think that set the platform for the second-half.”

Gerry McInerney enjoyed plenty of big occasions himself on the hallowed turf of Croke Park during his playing career.

He had a few choice words for Charleville after their goalkeeper Cian Collins was booked for using an unofficial match sliotar in the second-half.

“Ah yeah, it’s Cork,” he remarked. “C’mon, they did it in our day so no big deal there.

“Anything they can get away with, they’ll get away with. And fair play to them, they got away with it years ago but they got caught today. Rightly so. It should be a fair playing field.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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