Camross retained their ACHL Division 1 hurling title in Mountrath on Wednesday night, as a strong second half showing saw them past Rathdowney-Errill.
Trailing by two points at the break, Camross hit 1-3 without reply in the opening six minutes of the second half to take control of the game. Rathdowney-Errill never really offered a sustained challenge after that, with Mark Kavanagh's late goal made the scoreboard read a little bit better.
In truth, Rathdowney-Errill were a little lucky to be leading at the break. Camross were the better side in the opening ten minutes but some woeful shooting denied them the chance to take control of proceedings.
They had five wides registered in the opening six minutes, with their only score a fine effort from Mark Dowling. Zane Keenan pointed a free in the ninth minute to double their lead, and Rathdowney-Errill didn't register their first shot at goal until the tenth minute.
Having weathered the early Camross storm, Mark Kavanagh opened their account with a free, but it was soon cancelled out by another fine point from Mark Dowling. Rathdowney-Errill weren't really offering much of a threat from open play, with they were managing to win frees, and Mark Kavanagh hit four in a row to see them lead 0-5 to 0-3.
Zane Keenan replied for Camross with a free of his own, before Kavanagh hit another free for Rathdowney-Errill, and then Eric Killeen cut in from the right wing and fired in the opening goal of the game.
A brace of points for either side left Rathdowney-Errill in a commanding position coming up to half time, leading 1-8 to 0-6, but Camross finished the half strongly. Darrell Dooley, Mark Dowling and Zane Keenan all hit the target to bring them right back into it at the break, 1-8 to 0-9 the score.
The second half was dominated by Camross, kick-started by a brilliant point from the right wing by Zane Keenan. Ciaran Collier got his third of the game after that and then Niall Holmes landed one from distance to get the Camross crowd into full voice.
With the momentum building, Camross then struck for their goal as Mark Dowling got the decisive strike from close range.
Mark Kavanagh tried to settle Rathdowney-Errill back down with a free, but Camross hit back with interest, as Keenan (free) and Mark Dowling stretch the lead out to five.
Brilliant work from Joe Fitzpatrick set Paddy Purcell up for a Rathdowney-Errill point midway through the half, but the 2016 league champions just weren't offering enough of a threat up front. Camross defended well and picked off scores at their ease, and they were six ahead with normal time elapsed.
Mark Kavanagh threw his side a late lifeline when he fired a 21 yard free to the net, but a Mossy Burke point moments later put the seal on a Camross victory.
Scorers: Zane Keenan 0-9 (0-5 frees), Mark Dowling 1-4, Ciaran Collier 0-3, Tomás Burke 0-2, Darrell Dooley, Niall Holmes 0-1 each.
Team: Tadhg Doran; Andrew Mortimer, Martin Burke, Joe Phelan; Lorcan Burke, Andrew Collier, Malvin Moloney; Darrell Dooley, Matthew Collier; Ciaran Collier, Niall Holmes, Zane Keenan; Mark Dowling, Dean Delaney, Eoin Gaughan. Subs: Oisín Bennett for Gaughan (48 mins), Tomás Burke for M Collier (49 mins), Darren Gilmartin for Dooley (51 mins), Craig Delaney for Mortimer (58 mins)
Scorers: Mark Kavanagh 1-7 (all frees), Paddy Purcell 0-3, Eric Killeen 1-0, Shane Dollard, Daithí Poynton, Paddy McCane 0-1 each.
Team: Noel Brennan; Alan Delaney, Jack Kelly, John Keane; Owen Bourke, James Corrigan, Joe Fitzpatrick; Shane Dollard, Daithí Poynton; Mark Kavanagh, Eric Killeen, Tadgh Dowling; Paddy McCane, Paddy Purcell, John Purcell. Subs: Kevin O'Dea for Fitzpatrick (Blood Sub, 28 mins to HT), Shane Bowe for Dowling (38 mins), Jordy Kavanagh for J Purcell (38 mins)
Referee: John Lalor (Shanahoe)