Monday 12 November 2018

Last-gasp Walsh the saviour as Kanturk claim a famous All Ireland title

All Ireland intermediate Club Hurling Championship Final: Kanturk 1-18 St Patricks (Kilkenny) 1-17

Kanturk captain Lorcan O'Neill
Kanturk captain Lorcan O'Neill

Diarmuid Sheehan

Last Sunday will live long in the memory for all at Kanturk GAA Club, their players, fans and the locals at large as the club's all conquering Intermediate side claimed the All Ireland Intermediate Club Hurling Championship in the most dramatic of finishes at Croke Park.

The historic venue has witnessed many miraculous sporting moments over the years, however, few will have been as dramatic or as deserved as Kanturk's last minute winner over St Patricks Ballyragget.

Ian Walsh was the hero of the hour with a wonderful, miracle score that sent the spoils the way of the Cork and Munster Champions with midfielder Ryan Walsh putting in a Man of the Match display that more than did his bit to secure the title for Kanturk.

An individual goal of real class from Ryan Walsh on 30 minutes looked to be the key score in this one as the north Cork side stayed just ahead of a St Patricks team that just wouldn't bow and a wonderful strike from the Kilkenny side's Michael Brennan on 54 minutes had this one back in the melting pot as things started to look bad for the Turks.

Early wides from Kanturk meant that any dominance on the possession stakes counted for little as the game headed for 10 minutes with the sides showing parity on the board - just one point each.

Ballyragget were far from accurate in the early skirmishes themselves as this game failed to spark into anything like a lively encounter until Aidan Walsh smacked over a tasty score on the run. Nash followed up his team mate with a huge pointed free from well inside his own half as Kanturk looked to settle into the game.

Hawkeye was required twice in the opening fifteen minutes as Kanturk players shot from tight angles however the Duhallow side came out on the wrong side of both decisions as the wides tally began to mount. Kanturk stuck to their game plan and began to find their range with Aidan and Ryan Walsh splitting the posts with a pair of quality points.

Kanturk looked to be in for a goal on 20 minutes when Lorcán McLoughlin found himself bearing down on the target however a last ditch hook from Ballyragget's Brennan denied the Cork star a goal.

Ballyragget responded to the challenge and bagged four of the next five points to level things up three minutes before the short whistle. McLoughlin kept his side ticking over with another successful free - his second of the half, before a moment of magic from Ryan Walsh turned the game firmly in Kanturk's favour.

A mazy run by Walsh through the Ballyragget defensive line was finished low to the Kilkenny side's net as Kanturk struck a four point lead for the second time in the game - this time, but they would get to enjoy the lead for 15 minutes or so as the half-time whistle sounded moments later. 1-9 to 0-8 at the break.

Ballyragget hit back with some nice scores after the break with Kevin Kelly hitting eight points and midfielder Seoirse Kenny bagging five from play before Brennan's strike looked to be sending the honours the Leinster side's way.

Things looked to be going all downhill for the boys from Kanturk with the loss of Aidan Walsh to a shoulder injury late on looking like it could be fatal for their chances, but cousin Ian saved the day to spark the party to beat all parties down Duhallow way.

Kanturk's win will be celebrated for a long time to come, but it won't be that long before they step out onto the championship pitch again, this time to take on Newtownshandrum in senior hurling - now won't that be some day for local north Cork hurling?

Kanturk: A Nash 0-2f; J Browne, J McLoughlin, P Walsh; L O'Neill, D Browne, A Sheehy; L McLoughlin 0-7 (5f), R Walsh 1-2; M Healy, I Walsh 0-3, D Kenneally 0-1; L O'Keeffe, A O'Keeffe 0-1, A Walsh 0-2 Subs: J Fitzpatrick for A O'Keeffe, 49, E O'Connor for A Walsh (inj), 59

St Patricks Ballyragget: M Gannon; J Mooney, J Gannon, M Staunton; G Brennan, S Staunton, R Healy; S Kenny 0-5, B Staunton; E Bergin 0-1, J Brennan 0-3, B Staunton; M Brennan 1-0, B Brooke Phelan, K Kelly 0-8 (0-7f) Subs: S Mooney for E Bergin, 40

Referee: J Murphy (Limerick)