Battling barony finally run out of road
County SFC Final - St Finbarrs 3-14 Duhallow 2-14
A veil that had lain over St. Finbarrs for 33 years was lifted at Páirc Uí Chaoimh last Sunday after lowering the colours of a battling Duhallow in a thrilling County SFC Final.
Once the victors grabbed a stranglehold on the game in the second half, the 'Barrs cranked up a massive momentum to sway the outcome.
The talk in the build-up was that the Togher side's bench was strong and so it proved with key contributors and on the field, team captain Ian Maguire unleashed awesome power and endeavour.
From a fast paced contest, it made for an engaging spectacle, all through the opening half and for long stretches during the second spell, Duhallow contributed handsomely to a wonderful game.
The interval allowed the 'Barrs dwell on a somewhat nervous spell, returning to the fray, they meant business, their class and confidence rising once they registered telling scores
Ultimately, a mixture of excellent St Finbarrs play contrasted to some sloppy resistance by Duhallow swung the balance. The divisional side didn't make it easy for the new champions, but as the game aged, Duhallow struggled to make headway against a colossus in Maguire and his colleagues that included effective substitutions.
Duhallow had made an early statement of interest, neat attacks yielded points to Fintan and Donncha O'Connor. Steadily, St. Finbarrs began to play with a degree of cohesion, lethal freetaker Stephen Sherlock obliged with back to back efforts.
Still, there was much to admire in Duhallow's structure and application, in defence John McLoughlin, Kevin Crowley and Lorcan O'Neill were imposing to lead the resistance with Aidan Walsh winning key possession at midfield to allow Donncha O'Connor, Seamus Hickey and Jerry O'Connor prosper in attack.
After Balydesmond's O'Connor pointed a Duhallow free, a delightful move surfaced in the 14th min., Walsh delivered long range into Jerry O'Connor who showed his marker a clean pair of heels, a well driven effort was saved by 'keeper John Kerins only for Hickey to follow up and net the rebound with a neat sidefoot.
And when Eoghan McSweeney tacked on a point, Duhallow were now worthy of their five point advantage. To dampen the Duhallow free flowing frenzy, the 'Barrs needed a big response and they found it with a great move, Colin Lyons, Colm Scully and Eoghan McGreevey all involved as was Maguire to find Sherlock to finish to the net with aplomb.
Again Duhallow stormed back, a foot-block on Hickey won a penalty, not for the first time, O'Connor showed massive conviction to blast home the spotter.
And when Paul Walsh added on a point, Duhallow looked favourably positioned, but failing to push home their supremacy, they handed the initiative to the 'Barrs and a burst of careless play allowed Sherlock and Denis O'Brien hit points for the Barrs to reduce the arrears 2-7 to 1-7 at the interval whistle.
Those scores before the break gave the Barrs rising confidence a shot in the arm and they wrestled the initiative on the restart.
After Jerry O'Connor hit a Duhallow wide, the Blues were in the game big time, wing-back Lyons galloped up field and with no hand laid on him, the No. 5 whizzed the ball to the Duhallow net for parity.
That set the scene for an enthralling half, Duhallow regaining the lead courtesy of a O'Connor flag.
Now the Barrs made it happen through a combination of hard work and clever play. In defence substitute Glenn O'Connor and Lyons contributed handsomely, at midfield, Maguire and Comyns won a massive amount of possession helped by the busy Michael Shields, that provided the 'Barrs with an attacking platform to hit a run of points from Sherlock.
From a miscued pass out of their own goal line, Duhallow were glad to see Colm Keane blast the ball over the crossbar with a goal at his mercy. A terrific spectacle continued, Duhallow throwing caution to the wind, Walsh posted a welcome point as did Donncha and Jerry O'Connor to ensure stalemate at 2-11 apiece.
The closing 10 minutes or so could scarcely had been more exciting, the power pendulum leaned the 'Barrs way before Duhallow responded only for the new champions to hold enough in the tank to deliver a productive finish.
Again the Barrs exploited a short kick out from custodian Patrick Doyle substitute Eoghan Finn and Denis O'Brien fully alert for Finn to blast home. Another strayed delivery from the restart saw Barrs add further misery for Enda Dennehy to bisect the uprights.
Trailing by four, another Duhallow fightback and a concerted productive spell yielded points to Anthony O'Connor, Kevin Crowley and Jerry O'Connor had the deficit down to the minimum. Indeed, Duhallow forfeited a great opportunity of a possible equaliser, retaliation saw a free in an advantageous position lost.
With the game in the melting pot, Duhallow had shifted Crowley onto the towering Maguire in a bid to balance the midfield battlefield with veteran Donncha O'Connor coming deep in search of possession.
If anything, a case of robbing the Duhallow a vital weapon for it was the 'Barr's that threatened, Duhallow 'keeper Doyle halted Sherlock from netting his second with a marvellous point-blank save.
Try as Duhallow did during the latter stages, the tiring Barony men failed to break down a competent Barrs rearguard. Indeed the Barrs belief was unshakeable, closing the game out with substitutes Colm Barrett and Finn delivering the insurance points to allow a blue stampede onto the Páirc Uí Chaoimh sward.
St Finbarrs: J Kerins; J Burns, D Quinn, C Dennehy 0-1; C Lyons1-0, A O'Connor, C Scully; I Maguire, E Comyns; D O'Brien 0-1, M Shields, E Dennehy 0-1; E McGreevey, C Keane 0-1, S Sherlock 1-8 (0-8f) Subs: G O'Connor for J Burns (ht), E Finn 1-1 for C Keane (42), C Barrett 0-1 for E McGreevey (48), R O'Dwyer for D Quinn (50), R O'Mahony for E Dennehy (62 +3)
Duhallow: P Doyle (Knocknagree); J McLoughlin (Kanturk), L O'Neill (Kanturk), B Daly (Newmarket); K Crowley (Millstreet) 0-1, K Buckley (Knocknagree), L McLoughlin (Kanturk); A Walsh (Kanturk) 0-1, S Hickey (Rockchapel) 1-0; F O'Connor (Knocknagree), E McSweeney (Knocknagree) 0-2, P Walsh (Kanturk) 0-1; J O'Connor (Boherbue) 0-3(0- 2f), D O'Connor (Ballydesmond) 1-5(1-0p, 0-3f), M Vaughan (Millstreet) Subs: A O'Connor (Knocknagree) 0-1 for M Vaughan (29), K Cremin (Boherbue) for F O'Connor (42), D Moynihan (Ballydesmond) for E McSweeney (58)
Referee: D Murnane (Macroom)