It took them a long, long time to impose their will and unfold their real class in the game, but when they did the Rower-Inistioge raced to a thrilling victory in the All-Ireland club intermediate hurling final.
Actually it wasn’t until the second half of extra-time - between the 80th and 90th minutes - that the Kilkenny champions got all systems in line, but when they did their superior talent showed against gutsy Kilnadeema Leitrim (Galway) and they eventually won by 1-16 to 1-9.
The losers, who were hoping to bring the title West for the first time, were held scoreless during the second half of extra-time. During that period the Rower defence, inspired by Kieran Joyce at centre-back, was utterly defiant and the attack, that had promised so much all afternoon, suddenly clicked.
The points flowed from Paul Sheehan (2), Joe Lyng, David Lyng (2) and James Cassin in quick succession as Kilnadeema were cut down. It was a frightening burst by the Kilkeny champions, who succeeded Clara, the current Noreside senior champs, as kings of the All-Ireland intermediate club scene.
Croke Park has never seen such excitement on junior and intermediate club hurling final day. Both contests went to extra-time, but in the case of the junior grade Ballysaggart (Waterford) and Kickhams Creggan (Antrim) must meet again because they failed to reach a decision.
The Rower opened backed by the wind blowing towards the Hill 16 end, but their shooting was awful. They reached half-time with a mere four points on the ’board. The shocking figure was the 11 wides they shot. Still, they got away with the poor finishing and led by 0-4 to 0-3 at the rest.
The score at the end of normal time was 1-8 each. Twice Kilnameema battled back during the closing six minutes to post equalisers through Dara Herlihy and Brian Molloy after first sub Paul Sheehan (free) and then Joe Lyng had put the Noresiders within touching distance of the trophy.
A pair of points from Paul Sheehan and James Cassin gave the Rower a 1-10 to 1-9 advantage at the break in extra-time. From the start of the closing period of play the Rower were on fire, and they burned off the challenge of the failing opposition.
The strength of the winners subs bench was vital in the victory. Subs Paul Sheehan (4), James Cassin (2) and Conor Joyce contributed seven points to the winning effort.
Scorers: Rower-Inistioge - Paul Sheehan (0-4, two frees, one 65); Joe Lyng (0-3); Ciaran Ryan (1-0); David Lyng (0-2); James Cassin (0-2); Michael Grace (0-2, frees); Ruairi Galavan, Tom Murphy, Conor Joyce (0-1 each). Kilnadeema Leitrim - Brian Molloy (0-5, three frees); Liam Geraghty (1-1); Dara Herlihy (0-2,); Tom Tierney (0-1).