CO-OP SUPERSTORES COUNTY SAHC FINAL
Fr O'Neills 2-13
Kanturk produced a power packed performance to overwhelm Fr O’Neills in a highly entertaining Co-Op Superstores County SAHC Final at Pairc Uí Chaoimh last Sunday.
As the contest progressed, Kanturk exerted a firm grip in all sectors, the statistics showing the Duhallow representatives outscored O’Neill’s 1-6 to 0-2 during the closing 20 minutes.
For the second consecutive season, Fr. O’Neill’s had fallen at the last hurdle, last season, losing to Charleville. In fairness, they strove manfully to remain in contention but ultimately forced into submission by the superior power of the victors.
When it really mattered, Kanturk hurled with a far greater passion, their first touch impressive as they possessed a sharper edge to their game. And right throughout the park, there was plenty to admire in Kanturk’s game, the defence exerted a tight security, at times, they squandered opportunities in attack yet young Colin Walsh imposed himself on the game with a hat-trick of goals.
Neither side operated at full strength from the semi-final, Kanturk were down suspended Paul Walsh with Fr O'Neills minus the contribution of three first time players including Declan Dalton and Ger Millerick though the latter was introduced in the opening half for his first competitive involvement since Cork overcoming Kilkenny in the All Ireland SHC semi-final.
Fr O'Neills applied the early pressure only to shoot a pair of widea and soon the Ballymacoda and Ladysbridge combination found themselves 1-3 to 0-0 adrift with just six minutes elapsed on the clock.
Indeed Kanturk dictated the terms of engagement, points on the board from Colin Walsh, Brian O'Sullivan (‘65) and Ian Walsh.
The initiative remained running with Kanturk, two of the Walsh brothers combining, Alan placed Colin to round a defender and drill low to the net. O'Neill's struggled for a spell, a free from Kevin O'Sullivan fell short before the No. 12 found the target with a much needed point from play on 10 minutes.
O'Neills game had stepped up, O'Sullivan on target, but Kanturk responded positively, Brian O'Sullivan and Liam O'Keeffe pointing surperbly from distance for a 1 -5 to 0-4 lead at the first water-break.
The initiative remained with Kanturk Aidan Walsh's brilliant pair of points helped build up a five points buffer.
O'Neill's came close to a goal, Billy Dunne kicked over the cross from close range and it took a marvellous reflex save from Kanturk 'keeper Grantis Bucinskas to deprive Jason Hankard of a certain goal.
In a bid to stem the flow, Fr O'Neills called for remedial action, introducing county player Ger Millerick into the proceedings, the alteration yielded immediate dividends, Milleriick overturned the sliothar and a long ball into the danger zone allowed Rob Cullinane slot the ball home.
Now O'Neill's possessed a spring in their step, Kanturk troubled by opposing corner-forward Cillian Broderick, who lashed beyond Bucinskas for a second goal and a narrow advantage. A gripping contest was unfolding, Kanturk reacted to a precarious situation, Liam O'Keeffe the provider for Colin Walsh to whiz the ball to the net..
Fittingly, a marvellous first half ended all square, O'Sullivan pointed a free to force stalemate at 2-7 apiece. On the restart, Kanturk's finishing lacked the polish required to confirm their superiority on the scoreboard.
Though Aidan Walsh and Liam O'Keeffe added points, poor shooting prevented Kanturk from consolidating their position, leaving Fr O'Neills firmly in the mix, points per Tomás Millerick and Billy Dunne helped restore parity.
Kanturk hadn't helped their cause with sloppy finishing but they received a tonic boost on the call of the second sos, Walsh seized on the sliothar from a melee to goal, a neat run and a sweet finish were all executed in a couple of seconds much to the delight of Kanturk supporters to hold a 3-11 to 2-11 advantage.
Now Kanturk looked to be in a winning position, Darren Browne, Lorcan O'Neill and Ryan Walsh secured the bolts at the heart of the defence, Lorcan McLoughlin and Brian O'Sullivan remained ever reliant in the centre.
Throw in four Walshs and Liam O'Keeffe in attack, it all proved all too hot to handle for O'Neill's as substitute Daniel O'Connell and O'Keeffe added points.
It all left Fr O'Neills with a huge challenge which ultimately proved too much as Aidan Walsh, Cian Clernon and O'Sullivan added points to confirm Kanturk as worthy victors and allowed team captain Darren Browne raise aloft the Jim Forbes Cup much to the delight of supporters.
KANTURK: G Bucinkas; J McLoughlin, R Walsh, L Cashman; J Browne, D Browne, L O'Neill; L McLoughlin 0-1, A Sheehy; B O'Sullivan 0-3 (0-1f, 0-1’65), Aidan Walsh 0-5, C Walsh 3-1; L O'Keeffe 0-4 (0-1f), Alan Walsh, I Walsh 0-1. Subs: D O'Connell 0-1 for I Walsh (45), C Clernon 0-1 for Alan Walsh (58), M Healy for D O’Connell (60 inj)
FR O'NEILL'S: C Sloane; M Millerick, S O'Connor, E Motherway; Joe Millerick, M O'Keeffe 0-1, T Millerick 0-1; D Harrington 0-1, John Millerick; R Cullinane 1-0, P McMahon, K O'Sullivan 0-7 (0-5f, 0-1’65); C Broderick 1-1, J Hankard, B Dunne 0-2. Subs: G Millerick for John Millerick (23), R Kenneally for P McMahon (40)
EFEREER: N Wall (Ballincollig)
Kanturk possessed an abundance of quality in their side, no strangers to success at county, Munster and All Ireland levels. Whatever about systems or structures, individual skills and teamwork will always remain a priceless asset, Kanturk unleashed an awesome range from a mix of experienced players and a hugely exciting new generation who have already taken up the knack of winning big games.
The timing of Kanturk’s goals were significant, two green flags from Fr O’Neills appeared to leave Kanturk’s nerves jangling only for the Duhallow men to respond with Colin Walsh’s goal helped force parity at the interval. And with the sides remaining deadlocked nearing the second water break, Walsh pounced for his hat trick that effectively allowed Kanturk finish with a flourish.
Midfielder Lorcan McLoughlin took the official accolade, the former Cork great orchestrated matters on linking up defence and attack. Not too off the gong was Colin Walsh, netting a hat trick of goals, crucially breaking down O’Neills’ defensive barriers with brilliant fetching, pace and clinical finishing.
untyKanturk can look ahead and mix with the big boys such as Midleton and Glen Rovers in 2022. In the immediate future, the majority of the Kanturk panel figure on the Premier Intermediate Football side that faces Newmarket in a Co Final on Sunday week. Meanwhile for Fr O’Neills, perhaps third time lucky next season, having lost back-to-back county finals to Charleville and Kanturk.