COUNTY JUNIOR ‘A’ HURLING CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL
Erins Own 0-16
These are heady times for Kilshannig’s GAA fraternity. With a county intermediate ‘A’ football title and a North Cork junior ‘A’ hurling crown already in the bag, the hurlers were bidding to bring the curtain down on a season of unprecedented glory in Pairc Ui Chaoimh last Sunday.
The prize at stake was the county junior ‘A’ championship trophy, with Erins Own barring the path to what would have been a historic achievement for the Avondhu standard-bearers, who hadn’t even tasted success at divisional level prior to this year.
As it turned out, the result was inconclusive, so Kilshannig’s hopes of a ‘dream double’ remain intact, and, taking everything into account, a draw was the least they deserved following a contest that produced an absolutely enthralling finale.
They nudged ahead by the minimum with under a minute of regulation time remaining, but, after Erins Own replied with a quick brace of scores, Kilshannig were forced to relay on a last-gasp equaliser from Paddy Walsh to earn a second bite of the cherry.
It was by no means unfitting that midfielder Walsh should have the satisfaction of ensuring Kilshannig’s survival, as he was regularly seen to good effect, embellishing his high work-rate with a three-point return for the hour.
Also numbered among Kilshannig’s leading lights were Killian O’Hanlon, Jack Twomey and, in the closing stages, Eanna O’Hanlon up front, while Eoghan Bourke and Colm O’Shea earned the main plaudits in a defence that resisted stoutly as a unit.
Considering they had accounted for 2021 runners-up Dromtarriffe en route to the decider, Kilshannig were entitled to fancy their chances of going all the way, and their performance against Erins Own suggests there will be no diminution in their confidence-levels ahead of the replay.
The fact is the primary reason they failed to bring home the bacon was they were afflicted by a severe bout of squandermania on the day, as their tally of 17 wides, 11 more than Erins Own, amply illustrates.
As well as that, the majority of Erins Own’s scores came from the stick of Mark Collins from frees, many of which were needlessly conceded and were of the softish, and sometimes questionable, variety.
That Kilshannig would have been largely the architects of their own demise had they emerged from the fray empty-handed is beyond dispute, notwithstanding the craft and resolve which, along with their economical use of their chances, highlighted Erins Own’s admirable display.
Kilshanning made the better start, with wing-back Kieran Twomey, from a free, and Darragh O’Sullivan on target before Mark Collins got Erins Own off the mark from a placed ball in the 9th minute.
That resulted from a foul on Erins own’s Cian O’Callaghan when he wasn’t in a threatening position out near the corner flag, and an equaliser soon followed from Andrew O’Sullivan after he intercepted a sloppy pass out of defence.
It meant Kilshannig had, in effect, gifted Erins Own their opening two scores, setting the pattern for what was to prove a very frustrating first-half for the Avondhu kingpins.
They clocked up eight wides in the opening period when there was never more than the minimum between the sides after Erins Own had erased the early two-point deficit.
The Imokilly men led for the first time when wing-forward Ger O’Mahony made it 0-5 to 0-4 in the 23rd minute, and they didn’t fall behind again before the break, with Jack Twomey completing the scoring to earn Kilshannig parity at 0-7 apiece.
One of the features of the first-half was the ability of Killian O’Hanlon and Jack Twomey to win possession under the high ball up front for Kilshannig, which appeared to augur well for their prospects of making significant headway on the resumption.
Neither O’Hanlon nor Twomey found it easy to win clean possession on the turnover, however, testimony to the efficiency and adaptability of a well-knit Erins Own rearguard.
O’Hanlon remained a major threat at the same time, drawing first blood for Kilshannig, but, as they failed to improve on their shooting, the tit-for-tat nature of the battle continued in the second-half.
The teams were never separated by more than a point after the interval, although it would have been a different story but for a couple of timely interventions by Kilshannig corner-back Colm O’Shea.
With the score at 0-8 to 0-8, O’Shea did well to deny Erins Own’s Cian O’Callaghan when a goal looked on in the 32nd minute.
He came to Kilshannig’s rescue again seven minutes later when, with the teams tied at 0-10 to 0-10, he expertly hooked Erins Own wing-forward Ger O’Mahony as the latter was about to pull the trigger.
The game’s best chance of a goal, however, fell to Killian O’Hanlon, who, having powered into the danger-zone, looked ready to knock the ball home from point-blank range until Erins Own defender Patrick Fitzgerald came from nowehere to prevent it from crossing the line.
Ahead by 0-11 to 0-10 with 42 minutes gone, Kilshannig would surely have prevailed had O’Hanlon bagged a three-pointer at that juncture.
They still looked likely to creep over the line after O’Hanlon made it 0-15 to 0-14 in the 59th minute, but scores from substitute Tom Foley and centre-back Ian O’Mahony brought Erins Own within sight of victory before Paddy Walsh squared matters at the death.
KILSHANNIG: D Kearney; C O’Shea, B Guerin, J Cronin; K Twomey 0-1 (f), B Curtin, E Bourke 0-1; C Murphy, P Walsh 0-3; K O’Hanlon 0-3, E O’Sullivan, E O’Hanlon 0-1; D Twomey, J Twomey 0-6 (3f), Darragh O’Sullivan 0-1. Subs: Diarmuid O’Sullivan for D Twomey, 44, D Murphy for K Twomey (injured), 49.
ERIN’S OWN: T Dillon; P Fitzgerald, R O’Regan, C O’Sullivan; S Power, I O’Mahony 0-1, C McDonnell; A O’Sullivan 0-1, S Broderick; G O’Mahony 0-1, J McMahon, J Sheehan; S Murphy 0-2, M Collins 0-9 (8f), C O’Callaghan 0-1. Subs: L O’Shea for McMahon (injured), 18, T Foley 0-1 for O’Shea, 59, S Horgan for O’Callaghan, 59.
Referee: D Carroll (Kanturk)