AIDAN Murphy’s steely resolve was evident in the first and last shots of a marathon senior shoot-out with Cathal Toal at Tullysaran.
In between there were blips and hollows but the goal of All-Ireland glory was never lost sight of and the reward came at the end with the Hughie Trainor Cup, a victory that was celebrated with gusto by his large band of supporters.
Aidan Murphy would not have been touted as one of the favourites to succeed his brother, David, when the draw was announced, but the momentum built with every win and there was an aura of confidence about his performance on Sunday even as Toal threatened to stage a most unlikely comeback. The Ulster champion was the fancy of many but was under pressure from the off. Murphy’s opener carried power and it cannoned off the roadside kerb to give him a 50-metre opening lead. Toal’s second suffered an accidental block and he then missed sight at ‘MaryAnnes’ with his third.
Murphy wasn’t holding back and unleashed a monstrous fourth that rose a bowl lead as they played up the ‘Orange Hall hill’.
It got worse for the Ulster champion, a slip with his sixth resulted in a very short effort and by the time Murphy has thrown his fifth, he was two bowls down.
The Cork champion extended that to 80 metres with two after eight before signs emerged of a comeback. The odds came under two as Murphy crossed two to the right and, with Toal in steadier mode, the lead halved at Knappagh angles.
The best of the bowling was in the exchanges away from Knappagh and here Murphy showed his mettle, lining huge shots but Toal kept it under the bowl with good replies. Facing the last bend, the margin was down to 80 metres.
It looked like going to the wire but Aidan Murphy delivered a last shot, his 22nd of the day, that deserved to win an All-Ireland, a thundering drive on the left that beat the finish mark out of sight. They played for a total of 12,800 (Euro/Sterling).
Vincent Kiely was strong and commanding in his junior B win on Saturday, outlasting a game Michael Rafferty by a big fore bowl.
It was a score that harked back through the decades, the pair having met in an U16 All-Ireland decider at Bauravilla in 1989. The rivalry was still apparent only this time, the Cork man turned the tables on his northern rival. Their contest carried a 6,000 total, reflecting good confidence in the Ulster camp. It was Rafferty, having won the opening exchange, who made a big break with a wonderful fourth to ‘Kilpatrick’. The rub of the green favoured Kiely on the day, earned too at times due to his superior power, and it manifested itself in his fifth up the ‘Orange Hall hill’, a shot that brought him level at a crucial time.
He touched again on the incline rising a 100-metre lead on Rafferty and one sensed the tide was turning in the Cork man’s favour. Kiely rose a bowl with his eighth and then escaped from the grass with his ninth to extend his lead to almost two.
Rafferty didn’t give up the ghost and fired a magnificent last shot, but Kiely had enough in hand for a comfortable last-shot victory, his first All-Ireland success.