Tuesday 20 February 2018

TRIPLE HEARTBREAK: Cloyne lose third in a row as Erin's Own rejoice

Erin's Own 2-19 Cloyne 3-14 Cork SHC final HOW much more heartbreak can Cloyne take now? After losing the 2004 and 2005 Cork senior hurling finals they could have bought easily into the notion that it would be a case of third time lucky in Páirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday.

After investing so much effort into getting right this year and slaying the reigning champions Newtownshandrum in the semi-final, they were entitled to think that the storied name of their village, made famous by Christy Ring, would at last be inscribed on Cork's roll of honour.

But they lost momentum in a gripping second half, sometimes showing signs of over anxiety, as the Seán Óg Murphy Cup slipped inexorably away from them once again.

Erin's Own were just better balanced and had more zip in their step as that second half wore on in torrential rain.

Eoghan Murphy was their hero, snatching 1-10 from a game that threw up a score almost every 90 seconds, a remarkable return for October and the prevalent conditions.

It may leave questions about the defending on both sides but the quality of some of the scores was as good you would find anywhere at this level.

Murphy missed nothing from placed balls and got the crucial goal just after the break that reeled in a Cloyne side that had led by 2-8 to 0-11.

Erin's Own had their own reasons for winning. Last year they were embroiled in controversy when they withdrew from the Cork championship after the County Board refused to facilitate them over fixtures.

Brian Corcoran and Kieran Murphy had picked up injuries while playing for the county and Erin's Own felt strongly enough to withdraw when their hand was forced.

It was that kind of mentality that served them well when the going got tough yesterday. Two other Cork players, Cian O'Connor and Peter Kelly, were dominant figures in the half-back line.

O'Connor had the difficult task of keeping Diarmuid O'Sullivan in check. O'Sullivan picked off a couple of first half scores and set up Conor Cusack for his second goal on 52 minutes that threw Cloyne a lifeline. But he was never allowed to dominate and looked a tired figure at the end.

Cloyne have established a reputation for scoring in this year's championship as 14 in four previous games will testify.

They didn't disappoint on that front yesterday with three more, two from Cusack, but they were too porous at the back to make those goals count.

Padraig O'Sullivan, younger brother of Diarmuid, was easily Cloyne's most impressive forward and he got them off to a flying start when a sideline from John Cotter slipped past everyone just four minutes in and despatched calmly to the corner past Shay Bowen for a 1-2 to 0-1 lead.

But Erin's Own never panicked and never allowed daylight to open between themselves their east Cork rivals.

With Kieran Murphy driving them on from midfield they edged their way back and when Eoghan Murphy converted a 65 on 18 minutes they were level 1-4 to 0-7.

Each time Cloyne surged ahead Murphy and Erin's Own had an answer. Diarmuid O'Sullivan's second point from play put Cloyne two clear again but Kieran and Fergus Murphy were quick to rein them in.

Cloyne got a timely break, however, before the interval when a blocked Colm O'Sullivan shot spun kindly for Cusack who batted in his first goal for a 2-8 to 0-11 lead.

But within minutes of the restart that lead was wiped out mercilessly as Erin's Own came out of the traps impressively. Peter Kelly was first off the mark for them again as he had been in the first half and Eoghan Murphy added his only point from play before he hammered home a goal from a goalmouth scramble.

It put Erin's Own into the driving seat and as the rain spilled down their confidence soared.

Cloyne hung on to their coat tails in desperation and when Cusack touched over the rebound from a Diarmuid O'Sullivan shot they were in a challenging position again.

But a sublime Fergus Murphy touch for a goal to a delivery from outfield that Dónal Óg Cusack hesitated to come and meet, halted growing momentum.

To their credit, Cloyne got back level through a Colm O'Sullivan point and that second Cusack goal from creative Diarmuid O'Sullivan play.

But Kieran Murphy boomed over an 80m free and when Corcoran, the only starting survivor from the last Erin's Own championship success, sold the perfect dummy and swung over from 50m it felt like Erin's Own couldn't lose.

It broke Cloyne hearts too with their only response in those last five minutes a Padraig O'Sullivan free.

Afterwards Erin's Own manager Martin Bowen predicted that Eoghan Murphy was a player we'd be hearing more of. "He's a forward of marvellous potential. I thought his goal was marvellous," he said.

Bowen attributed a first championship success in 14 years to that second half. "I thought we put in a fantastic second half performance, particularly in the driving wind and rain. We've been building to this for a while. This is better than 1992. There was always a bit of leftover from what happened last year."

SCORERS - Erin's Own: E Murphy 1-10 (8f, 1 '65), F Murphy 1-1, B Corcoran, P Kelly, K Murphy (1f) all 0-2 each, R Carroll, M O'Connor 0-1 each. Cloyne: P O'Sullivan 1-7 (0-7f), C Cusack 2-1, D O'Sullivan 0-3 (1f), M Naughton, J Cotter, C O'Sullivan all 0-1 each.

CLOYNE - D Óg Cusack; E O'Sullivan, D Motherway, B Fleming; L O'Driscoll, K Cronin, Domhnall O'Sullivan; J Cotter, J Nyhan; C O'Sullivan, Diarmuid O'Sullivan, M Naughton; P O'Sullivan, P Cahill, C Cusack. Subs: I Quinlan for Cotter (51), V Cusack for C O'Sullivan (59).

ERIN'S OWN - S Bowen; P Fenton, P Fitzgerald, S Murphy; S Cornin, C O'Connor, P Kelly; Kieran Murphy, R Carroll; M O'Connor, M Buckley, C Coakley; F Murphy, B Corcoran, E Murphy. Subs: Killian Murphy for Buckley (45), S Kelly for O'Connor (52), T Kelliher for Carroll (58).

REF - D Copps (Ballyhea).

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