Classy Birr too good for Dunloy

Birr 1-19 Dunloy 0-11

Reigning champions Birr laid on a sparkling display of hurling to win their fourth All-Ireland Club Hurling Championship title at Croke Park.

The Offaly side possessed too much attacking class for Antrim and Ulster title-holders Dunloy, and with midfielders Barry Whelehan and Rory Hannify providing a powerful and skilful platform, they proved an irresistible force.

They were already well on their way to a sweet triumph, seven points clear, by the time Declan Pilkington drilled home the game's only goal five minutes from the end.

Simon Whelehan's eight points made a massive contribution to his side's success, his accuracy frees a key tool in the Birr gameplan.

Simon Whelehan and Rory Hannify swept over early points to give Birr a foothold, but a superb Liam Richmond point lifted Dunloy spirits.

As the Offaly champions pressed forward in waves of attack, the Ulster side needed some solid defending from Damien McMullan and Gary O'Kane to survive, and when Alistair Elliot narrowed the gap to two points with just seven minutes to play in the first half, they had genuine hope.

But Simon Whelehan made a dramatic intervention, tapping over two frees and landing a wonderful score from play to open up a 0-8 to 0-3 lead.

A fast-moving second half produced a feast of superb scores, with Pilkington, Simon Whelehan, Gary and Rory Hannify and Stephen Browne all landing vital points to maintain a comfortable lead.

Gregory O'Kane converted five frees, and Dunloy also had scores from Martin Curry and Alistair Elliot.

But Birr were always more dangerous up front, and while Dunloy goalkeeper Gareth McGhee saved superbly from Gary Hannify, he could do nothing to stop Pilkington's close range effort from sealing the title for Birr, the first team ever to win four All-Ireland Club Hurling Championship titles.

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