Conahy Shamrocks captain, Andy O'Keeffe receives the winners trophy from Tom O'Reilly, chairman of the Football Board
The first county final of 2017 in Kilkenny, and probably in Ireland, was played on Saturday.
The James Stephens complex was the stage for the Conahy Shamrocks and Rower-Inistioge intermediate football final.
The game was certainly interesting and manly, hard and error ridden even.
It looked as if the winners had done some preparatory work. Playing against the breeze, they looked more polished, better focussed and more up for the contest.
The winners shot themselves into a 1-2 to no score lead by the 15th minute. The lead could and should have been bigger.
Tom Phelan pointed in the second minute. The Rower were rudderless during the early stages.
Michael Bergin caught a long delivery from his opposite number, Eoin Doyle in the run up to the goal. He passed to Paddy Mullan, who passed to Sean Brennan.
Carrying towards goal, Brennan released to Kieran Mooney, who side-stepped the opposing back line to leave Patrick Lyng helpless in the Rower goal.
The winners then eased off. When Conor Joyce - he grabbed most of the Rower scores - landed the losers first point after 16 minute their game took off.
Paddy Mullan posted a reply, but Joyce answered that. He fired over his third a minute later before Davy Lyng added a fourth.
The Rower were camped in the Conahy half.
At half time the score read Conahy Shamrocks 1-3, Rower Inistioge 0-5.
Within four minutes of the restart Conor Joyce levelled with a fine point.
This prompted Conahy mentors to bring on young James Bergin. His introduction was a match changer.
Points in the 43rd and 44th minutes shot the winners in front. Joyce narrowed the gap before Tom Phelan widened it again.
The Rower were guilty of poor shooting, and it cost them.
Alan Healy came on as a sub for Conahy and he increased the advantage. Joyce pulled back a minor by the 59th minute, but that man Bergin with a delightfully struck 45 forced the loser to go chasing a goal.
They had two chances in added time, but the efforts were capably dealt with by the Conahy rearguard.
Besides those mentioned, Conahy had top performers in Paraic Delaney, Donal Brennan, Garry Dunne, Paul Buggy, Gary Kavanagh and John Muldowney.
For the Rower, Pat Lyng, Ruairi Galavan, who was outstanding, Tom Murphy, Davy Kelly and Joe Lyng tried very hard. Conor Joyce was the most impressive player on the pitch.
SCORERS: Conahy Shamrocks - Kieran Mooney (1-0); James Bergin (0-3, one 45); Tom Phelan (0-2); Paddy Mullan (0-2, one free); Alan Healy (0-1). Rower-Inistioge - Conor Joyce (0-6, four frees); Davy Lyng, Kevin Murphy (0-1 each).
Conahy Shamrocks - Paul Buggy; Seamus Óg Brennan, Thomas Nolan, Peter Harding; Donal Brennan, Michael Bergin, Philly Cass; Gary Kavanagh, Paddy Mullan; Sean Brennan, Garry Dunne, Tom Phelan; Kieran Mooney, John Muldowney, Paraic Delaney. Subs - James Bergin, Eoin Carroll, Alan Healy, Andy O’Keeffe (capt), Eoin Coogan (all used).
Rower-Inistioge - Pat Lyng; Davy Murphy, Ruairi Galavan, Pauric Ryan; Michael Galavan, Eoin Doyle, Tom Murphy; Sean Grace, David Lyng; David Kelly, Conor Joyce, Jack Walsh; Kevin Murphy, J.J. Kenny, Conor Lyng. Subs - Ciaran Ryan, Joe Lyng, Mark Moore, Kieran Meaney.
Referee - E Mansfield (Railyard).