Bride Rovers win U-21 hurling title to deny Cloughduv near perfect season
County U-21 A HC Final: Bride Rovers 1-14 Cloughduv 1-10
Bride Rovers made sure that Cloughduv wouldn't round off the season, a hugely successful year for the club, with another title win by seeing off the north Cork side in the County U-21 A Hurling Final last Sunday afternoon at Pairc Uí Rinn.
After a historic week for the Cloughduv club, that saw their junior side claim Munster honours just seven days previous, Cloughduv sent their U-21 side into battle with no fewer than six of that adult team's wining panel lining out for what would be a magnificent hurling double.
Bride Rovers on the other hand came into this one full of confidence however after going without a game together in all of eight weeks the east Cork side would have been forgiven for being a little bit rusty as they went in search of their own little piece of history.
Despite this being a third tier competition at this age group the quality and commitment on show from both sides was impressive throughout as all those charged with representing their club's went at it right from the off.
Cloughduv played the first half with a strong wind to their backs however they were unable to pull clear of a dogged Bride Rover's side that looked to be weathering the trials of a first 30 against the wind.
Rovers opened the scoring with less than 60 seconds on the clock thanks to a tasty score from centre forward Brian Roche however the north Cork side were back on terms two minutes later when Cloughduv talisman Brian Verling registered his first on four frees in the opening half.
The game had a good even flow to it early on with the sides showing parity on no fewer than four occasions in the first half. Rovers struck the first major blow on six minutes when Conleith Ryan snuck in to score the first three pointer of the game. Cloughduv responded well and with a quick point before Brian Verling bagged his side's only goal to put his side into the lead for the first time on nine minutes.
The game settled into a tit-for-tat encounter after that with the sides trading scores regularly - however it was Cloughduv that would lead at the interval 1-6 to 1-5.
Cloughduv were always going to be up against it after failing to make the most of the strong breeze in the first half and while the wind did seem to abate somewhat in the second half the boys in green still had a hill to climb - that said, the sides continued to trade points all the way to the 53rd minute with 1-10 a piece showing on the giant scoreboard.
Despite the tightness of the game Bride Rovers were looking just that little bit more comfortable and a last five minute blitz saw them bag the last four points of the game to deservedly take the win - sparking great scenes and a full rendition of what I believe was their club song the "Bold Thady Quill"
Cloughduv's players will take a break now for the Christmas festivities before getting back to the hard slog in preparation for one of the club's most important days, an All Ireland Junior semi final. Still some great days ahead in the 2018 season for Cloughduv.
BRIDE ROVERS: B Hogan; J Mannix, S Walsh, M Quinn; P O'Flynn, G O'Keeney, R Prendergast; S O'Connor, E Roche; C Barry 0-7 (4f), B Roche 0-4, DJ Cahill; K Kearney, C Ryan 1-2, J O'Keeffe 0-1. Sub: C Hogan for J O'Keefe (53).
CLOUGHDUV: C O'Driscoll; P O'Leary, P Buckley, S Flanagan; J Murphy, E Clifford, B Hinchion; A Twomey, M Walsh; D Walsh, W Ronan, E Curzon; B Verling 1-6 (6f), J Ryan 0-3, J Kelleher 0-1. Subs: D Dulea for W Ronan (40), L Wall for S Flanagan (60).
Referee: J Murphy (Castletownroche)
Grainger: this is all part of these kids' hurling education
Cloughduv's year came to an end in Pairc Uí Rinn last Sunday and while the result on the day was far from ideal it would be wrong to describe the season for the boys in green anything other than a roaring success.
On Sunday, standing on the famous old pitch listening to Bride Rovers players and fans belting out the club song Cloughduv selector John Grainger was taking the positives from the 2018 U21 adventure.
"We take great pride that our Under 21 hurlers reached the county final. At the start of the year if you told us we would be in a county final on the ninth of December we would have been thrilled. It is all a part of these young lads' education - we have so many of these kids on the Junior panel as well with some still in or just out of minor but to get a chance to play in a county final is something that doesn't come too often.
"We were beaten by a better team and hats off to Bride Rovers for that. They are a fine team with some fine individual hurlers but we are happy with the progress we are making. It would be far worse if we had been beaten back in the first round in May but we kept hurling until the ninth of December and that has to be a good thing."
A tough opening first 30 that saw Cloughduv just lead by the minimum, despite playing with the wind, was one of the main factors in the final result.
"We probably would have wanted more of a lead at the break however the wind was up and down in the second half so that wasn't that much of a factor. We were in it all the way to the last few minutes and it was only in the 60thminute that Bride Rovers pulled away - it was level for a long time so sometimes you can put too much into the wind - against it we were pucking out to the half way line so I don't really think it had that much of an impact. It was just one or two things at the end that didn't go our way. We had a couple of chances late on, we had a great goal chance but the keeper stopped it and Rovers went down the field and got one of two points from 50 yards out and that swung it."
Grainger felt that they had done their research but perhaps in the fixture they will need to do a little more on that score.
"They had their homework done on us and we had ours done on them and it's just that our homework wasn't as good as theirs but look some of those lads (Bride Rovers) are playing senior league and we are just a junior club and they got the breaks that we didn't get - if you look back at the video I would say you could see the areas that were the difference and the turning points but overall hats off to Bride Rovers. They are a good team. They will go up another grade next year and they are a serious hurling club still with a senior team when many people thought they would be relegated. They (Bride) produced good hurlers and they have a great interest in the game and today I would say they deserved it, fair play to them.
"Overall we are very proud of our lads. It has been a long year for them. They have a lot of hurling done this year - this is only good for them. The more games you can play at this level the better it is for you."