Warwickshire overcame Leitrim by 0-17 to 0-11 to lift the Lory Meagher at Croke Park on Saturday.
Regaining the trophy they won in 2013, the midlanders were favourite going into the final having won all of their games on route to the final, but they were made to work for it by Leitrim.
Leitrim, who’d had to battle their way to Croker, made life had for the favourites in the first half and it was only after the restart that Warwickshire took control and pulled away to life the trophy for a second time and make amends for their Division 3B final defeat to Longford earlier in the year.
“I thought there was a lot of pressure having played all year, maybe 12 games. Losing one, a League Final,” Warwickshire manager Tony Joyce told GAA.ie.
“And then coming to Croke Park to lose two finals would have been heartbreaking, but the pressure was on me. Probably a bit on the players as well.
“It wasn’t looking good at half-time, but we kept them scoreless right up to near the end. So the players really delivered in the second-half.”
Padraig O’Donnell and Warwickshire’s Liam Watson traded frees before Cathal O’Donovan put Leitrim ahead with an excellent score.
The in-form Liam Watson, who’d scored 5-27 in Warwickshire’s opening four group games, found himself embroiled in an fascinating contest with his marker by David Carton, but the Exiles’ ace still landed six frees in the first period.
However, a strong finish to the first half saw Leitrim take a 0-10 to 0-8 lead into the break.
But the favourites seized control immediately after the restart, with Leitrim not troubling the scorers again until injury time.
Watson opened the scoring with four frees to keep the scoreboard ticking over for the Exiles.
Paul Uniacke, Ian Dwyer and substitute Colm McBride all chipped in as Warwickshire slowly but surely took the game away from Leitrim, whose cause wasn’t helped when Colm Moreton saw red in the 58th minute before McGovern followed him to the line three minutes later.
“Out of this world; I wouldn’t want to see it when you get beat. It must be a sorry dressing room,” added Joyce.
“We had words at half-time and said ‘look, we have to get the win here’ because it’s an awful day when you lose a final. So they come up trumps, fantastic.
“We had to bring Liam (Watson) out to midfield to get a hold of the game and to get back in contention. Then we moved him back. They’re dogged, very dogged. It’s hard to beat them.
“He loves Croke Park, it is his playground. So he turned up on the day and thank God he did. He got us over the line really.”
— The GAA (@officialgaa) June 10, 2017
Full report and reaction in this week’s Irish World
Scorers for Warwickshire: Liam Watson 0-11(11fs), Shane Caulfield 0-2, Donnacha Kennedy, Paul Uniacke, Ian Dwyer, Colm McBride 0-1 each.
Scorers for Leitrim: Padraig O’Donnell 0-6(6fs), Cathal O’Donovan 0-2, Zak Moradi, James Glancy, and Colm Moreton 0-1 each.
Warwickshire: Michael Cremin; Thomas kelly, Dean Bruen, Michael O’Regan; John Collins, William Allen, Donnacha Kennedy; Kieran Boxwell, Paul Uniacke; Shane Caulfield, Conor Robbins, Ian Dwyer; Emmet McCabe, Liam Watson, Kelvin Magee.
Subs: Colm McBride for McCabe (52), Sean Hennessy for Magee (68), Joseph Meagher for Boxwell (70), Padraic Crehan for Dwyer (72), Chris Convery for Uniacke (73).
Leitrim: Declan Molloy; Kevin McGrath, David Carton, Vincent McDermott; Enda Moreton, Conor Byrne, Clement Cunniffe; Liam Moreton, James Glancy; Cathal O’Donovan, Colm Moreton, David McGovern; Karl McDermott, Padraig O’Donnell, Zak Moradi.
Subs: Morgan Quinn for McDermott (50), Gavin O’Hagan for L Moreton (53).
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