Sport

The Nire prevail by skin of their teeth

Waterford Senior Football Championship Final

The Nire 1-7

Rathgormack 0-9

The Nire are Waterford senior football champions for 2021.

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Michael Ryan's men saw off the challenge of Rathgormack at Fraher Field to claim their tenth title and now move on to the Munster Club Championship where they will face Newcastle West of Limerick.

The sides couldn't be separated in a nip-and-tuck first half.

Shane Ryan opened the scoring in the 2nd minute with a well-taken effort after the Nire had worked the ball well, with Rathgormack settling in thanks to a Craig Guiry mistake which saw him gift the ball straight to Jason Curry, and he duly obliged in splitting the posts.

A close range free from Dermot Ryan which sailed wide and a Conor Gleeson effort that went for a line ball emphasised just how strong the wind was at times, but that did little to deter Shane O'Meara as he pointed over a dead ball to restore the Nire's one-point advantage on ten minutes.

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Stephen Curry soon shot wide but Rathgormack were to soon be rewarded for some clever movement, Jason Curry notching his second of the day with a free to bring the teams level again - two points apiece at the water-break.

Right on the resumption, Rathgormack took the lead for the first time - but in truth, it could've been the opening goal for Ger Power's men. Craig Guiry's kickout was wayward and it fell straight to Jason Gleeson who bore down on goal, but he opted to fist over as opposed to attempting to raise the green flag.

A high tackle from James McGrath on Ronan Elliffe was punished by the impressive Jason Curry again as he curled over the requisite free - 0-4 to 0-2 in favour of Ger Power's men.

Conor Gleeson attempted to halve the deficit but his effort fell straight into the lap of Padraig Hunt, but the Nire's patience was rewarded on 21 minutes as teenager Sean Walsh slotted over a fine score.

A golden opportunity for the opening goal was again spurned by Rathgormack as Jason Curry played a beautiful 1-2 with brother Stephen before offloading to James Power but the ball was somehow bundled away from goal by Tom Barron.

His brother Jamie, who covered every blade of grass for the Ballymac men, then won a free which was expertly profited from by the boot of Dermot Ryan - bringing the sides back into the dressing rooms level for the third time at four points apiece.

The Nire had the perfect start to the second half as they put four points on the board in a matter of a minute. Dylan Guiry's pointed effort dropped short but Conor Gleeson rescued the ball and shot over the bar on the spin.

Jamie Barron then bombed forward and laid off to Shane Ryan, he played in Conor Gleeson who was hauled down in the penalty area but the ball rolled perfectly into the path of young Aaron Ryan who drove home for the game's only goal.

Jason Curry brought Rathgormack back within a goal with yet another well-taken dead ball but his next two efforts were off target and that was punished as Shane Ryan found Dermot Ryan, the wing-back skipping past three men before slipping the ball over the crossbar.

Curry and Ryan traded frees as Rathgormack struggled to find the radar, and the Nire led by four heading into the final quarter.

A great solo score from midfielder Martin Scurry threatened to buoy Rathgormack momentarily, but a string of wides from Conor Murray, Jason Curry and Jason Gleeson did little to help the cause.

Jamie Barron received a black card on 55 minutes as he dragged down Scurry, and that had the Nire sweating as Curry made no mistake from the requisite free.

Three minutes of added time were announced as Rathgormack flooded forward against the 14 men. Curry made it a one point game and nails were bitten all over Fraher Field.

Try as they might, it wasn't to be Rathgormack's day as captain James McGrath walked up the steps and claimed the Conway Cup on a red letter day for the Nire.

The Nire: Craig Guiry; Sean Boyce, Tom O'Gorman, Jake Mulcahy; Tom Barron, James McGrath, Dermot Ryan; Dave Meehan, Sean Walsh; Dylan Guiry, Conor Gleeson, Jamie Barron; Aaron Ryan, Shane Ryan, Shane O'Meara

Subs: Kyle Cuddy for Aaron Ryan (45); Michael Moore for Sean Boyce (51)

Scorers: Aaron Ryan (1-0); Dermot Ryan (0-3; 2f); Shane Ryan, Conor Gleeson, Shane O'Meara, Sean Walsh (0-1 each)

Rathgormack: Padraig Hunt; Jamie Kirwan, Conor Walsh, William Hahessy; Glen Power, Jason Gleeson, Robbie Flynn; Martin Scurry, Michael Curry; Conor Murray, Jason Curry, James Power; Ronan Elliffe, Stephen Curry, Billy Power

Subs: Stephen Kirwan for Ronan Elliffe (45); Paul Drohan for Jason Gleeson (56)

Scorers: Jason Curry (0-6, 5f); Conor Murray, Jason Gleeson, Martin Scurry (0-1 each)

Referee: Paddy Smith (Shamrocks)

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