Richie Hogan hails former team-mate Paddy Deegan after incredible centre back display 2 months ago

Richie Hogan hails former team-mate Paddy Deegan after incredible centre back display

Paddy Deegan played a man-of-the-match role as O'Loughlin Gaels defeated Na Fianna to win their third Leinster club hurling title in all, and their first since 2010.

The Kilkenny city side were on the ropes when the Curries combined for a stunning second half goal for Na Fianna but inspired by the brilliant Deegan, Brian Hogan's team edged it down the home straight to seal a one-point victory on a final scoreline of 0-22 to 1-18.

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Having gone a point up with three minutes left to play, thanks to a wonderful score by Colin Currie from the stand side-line, Na Fianna were in the driving seat but despite the referee playing four minutes of injury time, the first-time Leinster finalists failed to register another score.

Sub Luke Hogan shot back to level the game almost instantly before Mark Bergin scored the winning free as the game headed into injury-time.

Bergin missed another placed ball moments later, giving Na Fianna one last chance to respond but they couldn't win a clean possession and fell short.

Niall Ó Ceallacháin and Eoin Roche's side had done the majority of the hurling in the second half but there was one man they couldn't contain and that was Paddy Deegan.

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Sean Currie scored 1-1 for Na Fianna.

Despite playing at centre back, the Kilkenny senior was O'Loughlin Gaels' best attacking threat, scoring five points from play from a variety of angles and distances all through.

Even during Na Fianna's desperate late bid for possession, Deegan was the presence that wouldn't stand aside, sprinting out with ball after ball, winning break after break when his side needed him most.

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"They talk about building your team around your centre-back," said Westmeath hurling manager Joe Fortune fittingly in his role as RTÉ commentator.

"There's no better epitomisation of that than Paddy Deggan, he has been colossal today."

Meanwhile, Deegan's former Kilkenny team-mate Richie Hogan hailed the centre back for how he has improved his long-range score taking.

"Paddy Deegan was immense. He's a great individual defender.

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"He has an amazing engine. And what he's really, really improved is his long-range score-taking.

"He was always able to get them when he was coming up into the forwards but the first one he scored today was about ninety yards out.

"And that's a huge addition. Because it means you can't leave him free."

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O'Loughlin Gaels got off to a brighter start but exuding composure and calmness in possession, the local side played their way into the contest.

Liam Rushe and Kevin Burke in particular, came out on top of their defensive duels and that set the platform for the Curries and AJ Murphy to make hay up front.

Still, Na Fianna never led the game by more than two points with Deegan and his half-back partner David Fogarty keeping the favourites in the game.

They scored seven points between them and with Mark Bergin and Conor Heary carrying the load up front, they held out for a famous win under the Croke Park lights. Minus the services of their star forward Donal Burke, Na Fianna, meanwhile, will take plenty of heart from a year that saw them win their first ever Dublin SHC.

After the game, Deegan, who also scored the winning point in the Kilkenny final against Ballyhale, told RTÉ's Ger Canning of the character in this team.

When informed by Canning that he had scored five from play, he also said that he would be letting his team-mates know all about it during the celebrations.

"I actually didn't know that (it was five points), but I'll let the boys know about that later on," he said.

"They got a run on us in the second half, and we weathered it and came back strong at the end."

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