ONCE again Kildorrery produced a match-winning cocktail of courage, composure, determination and resilience to record a historic triumph in the Munster club junior hurling championship final at Mallow last Sunday.
Crowned county champions for the first time after two epic battles with Brian Dillons last month, there is no denying the Avondhu kingpins were presented with another severe test of character by St Kieran's of Limerick on this occasion.
But they rose to the challenge in admirable fashion once more, and, as was the case in both games against Brian Dillons, it was their unwavering resolve and self-belief that ultimately ensured their survival.
They needed a little rub of the green as well, and, with St Kieran's failing to avail of three goal chances in the first half, the Rebel standard-bearers were certainly flattered to go in at the break 0-8 to 0-5 in arrears.
The first of these arrived inside four minutes, but, after St Kieran's twice threatened a goal in a sustained attack, centre forward Johnny McCarthy was eventually content to get the visitors off the mark with a point.
It was indeed a let-off for Kildorrery, and their defence didn't always inspire confidence for the rest of the first half when James Muckell showed definite promise in a cohesive St Kieran's attacking sextet.
In fairness, full back Shane Fitzgerald did enough to prevent Muckell from making a significant impact, and the general tenacity of the Kildorrery rearguard meant that St Kieran's were forced to work very hard for their scores.
Yet, St Kierans' persistent probing almost yielded rich dividends towards the end of the opening period, with corner forward Donie Nolan shooting over the bar with a golden opportunity, and James Muckell doing likewise from a penalty.
That Kildorrery had good cause to count their blessing at half time was beyond dispute, and they would have been fully aware that significant improvement would be needed in all sectors if they hoped to snatch the initiative on the resumption.
Although Cormac O'Baoill had his moments, they had been forced to play second fiddle at midfield before the break, while their forwards struggled to make headway against a tightly-knit St Kieran's defence in which Patrick Windle caught the eye most often at centre back.
Wing forward Eamonn O'Connor earned the main plaudits up front for Kildorrery, slotting over a couple of sublime points, while Peter O'Brien, fed by Cormac O'Baoill, chipped in with another from play to underline his potential at the edge of the square.
O'Brien's score enabled Kildorrery to lead for the first time, 0-4 to 0-3, after 17 minutes, and O'Connor nudged them in front again two minutes later when he gathered a puck-out by 'keeper James McEnery to negate a converted free by St Kieran's Donie Nolan.
Four unanswered points followed for St Kieran's, however, allowing them to go in at the interval with their tails up, all the more so since their full back Paudie McCarthy had policed Kildorrery's key forward O'Brien fairly well in the first quarter.
So too did Patrick Windle after O'Brien had been switched to the '40, but it was obvious at the same time that O'Brien moved with sufficient menace to suggest he might yet prove a trump card for Kildorrery.
That's exactly how things turned out as the simmering threat from O'Brien came to the surface approaching the last ten minutes with disastrous consequences for St Kieran's.
Taking a pass from the hard-working Will Fuohy, O'Brien produced a typically clinical finish to push Kildorrery 1-8 to 0-9 ahead in the 48th. minute.
He quickly tacked on a point after being placed by Cormac O'Baoill before doing the spadework for another from Richard McEnery.
The result was that Kildorrery had transformed a onepoint deficit into a four-point lead within the space of three minutes, and it was never going to be easy for St Kieran's to get their aspirations back on track in the wake of that scoring blitz.
To their credit, the Shannonside kingpins made a gallant bid to recover, cutting the gap to the minimum before Eamonn O'Connor set Finbarr Stapleton up for a point that served to ease Kildorrery's anxiety with a minute of regulation time remaining.
As their defence stood firm in a nail-biting conclusion containing two minutes of additional time, Kildorrery held on for a momentous victory which, in view of their refusal to panic and their never-saydie attitude, was richly merited.
Such attributes were never more evident perhaps after full back Shane Fitzgerald expertly blocked down a scoring attempt by James Muckell in the 43rd. minute, resulting in a Kildorrery counter-attack which ended with St Kieran's custodian John Greaney denying Eamonn O'Connor and Finbarr Stapleton a goal in turn.
Making light of their frustration, however, Kildorrery didn't allow the heads to drop, and their perseverance was rewarded five minutes later when the crucial breakthrough arrived, courtesy of Peter O'Brien's superb strike.
With only Dave Kelly getting on the scoresheet from play, the Kildorrery attack had continued to find the going tough in the third quarter.
Against that, their defence raised their level of performance to such an extent that St Kieran's didn't break their second half duck from play until Ray Cahill made it 1-10 to 0-11 in the 54th. minute.
Ultimately, almost every Kildorrery player put a shoulder to the wheel, but, aside from O'Brien at full forward, Shane Fitzgerald, Michael Walsh and team skipper Richard McEnery made especially generous contributions to a vastly improved second half display.
Fitzgerald completely snuffed out the threat from James Muckell, Walsh, receiving excellent support from his flankers John Howard and Michael Lillis, was a veritable colossus at centre back, while McEnery got through an amount of effective work when operating as a third midfielder.
McEnery's redeployment resulted in Finbarr Stapleton moving out to the '40, and it brought a double reward in that the extra space near goal made it easier for Peter O'Brien to cut loose and swing an enthralling contest in Kildorrery's favour. Scorers Kildorrery: P O'Brien 1-6, 0-4 frees, E O'Connor 0-2, D Kelly, R McEnery and F Stapleton 0-1 each St Kieran's: J McCarthy 0-3, I Mackessy 0-3 frees, J Muckell 0-2, 0-1 penalty, D Nolan 0-2, 0-1 free, D Treacy and R Cahill 0-1 each. KILDORRERY: J McEnery, N Kelly, S Fitzgerald, L Kelly, J Howard, M Walsh, M Lillis, J McCarthy, C O'Baoill, E O'Connor, R McEnery, W Fuohy, F Stapleton, P O'Brien, D Kelly. Sub: S Kelly for Fuohy. ST KIERAN'S: J Greaney, B McCarthy, P McCarthy, M Windle, S Windle, P Windle, M Flynn, A Molyneaux, J B Hartnett, R Cahill, J McCarthy, D Treacy, D Collum, J Muckell, D Nolan. Subs: I Mackessy for Nolan (injured), T Doyle for M Windle REFEREE: D Fox (Clare)