00:00 Saturday 22 November 2008  Written by West Cork Gael

Kilbrittain do the double over brave Kilmacabea

Kilbrittain 1-8

Kilmacabea 0-10

SO near and yet so far for brave Kilmacabea, as fantastic second half rally just fails in thriller! Hats off to the minor footballers of Kilbrittain who have been crowned county and West Cork champions, thus completing a remarkable double at this level in 2008.

When the same teams met in the South West final earlier in the season Kilbrittain had to pull out all the stops to narrowly overcome a never-say-die Leap side, and at Enniskeane on Saturday afternoon last, it was a case of more of the same in another absorbing contest, this time in the Cork county decider. Indeed the standard of football served up by both sets of combatants belied the fact that this was the C grade 12-a-side competition.

From start to conclusion there was hardly a moment to draw breath such was the intensity, passion and commitment expedited with every ball contested with utmost fervour and supreme dedication. Kilbrittain were hanging on grimly in those last pulsating moments when Kilmacabea threw everything at them bar the kitchen sinks in their efforts to gain at least parity, something, that going on their tremendous second half performance would have been richly deserved.

That old and much maligned cliché, a game of two halves, was on this occasion completely reverent and is an apt description of a real cliff-hanger. To a totally dominant Kilbrittain side went the honours in the opening moiety. But while the Black and Amber were monarchs of all they surveyed early on, the boot was completely on the other foot in the closing half.

Indeed, the sole Kilbrittain score in this half fell to ace marksman Jamie Wall from a free in the 50th minute. The prolific talisman astoundingly accounted for all of his side's total over the hour and such was his virtuoso performance in the opening half when he literally took Kilmacabea apart with his scoring exploits, that one could be excused for dubbing it the 'Jamie Wall Show.'

Colin McCarthy got Kilmacabea off to a dream start against the stiff breeze when he pointed a free after just two minutes. A degree of the Kilbrittain superiority was such that the Leap side fail to raise a flag again until the 25th minute, when one of their best players, Andrew O'Callaghan, had the foresight and vision to try for goal from a quick free only to see his effort deflected over the lath by a vigilant Conor Moloney.

In the interim, back at the ranch Kilbrittain sowed the seeds of scoring endeavour thanks to fine play in defence by Darren Hickey, the experienced Maurice Sexton, Chris Hickey, Conor Moloney and particularly the speedy Pádraig Sheehan to reap a rich harvest on the scoreboard courtesy of Wall.

The latter had a pointed free for a foul on him and reprised the role moments later for another as the Black and Amber hit the front. With fine play by Aidan Moloney in the middle of the park, Conor O'Donovan, Ivan Burke, captain Seán McCarthy and James O'Mahony gaining good possession up front the Kilbrittain scoring star shone brightly on a gloomy and overcast afternoon.

Wall had a great point off his left peg and unerringly flashed over a free at the close of the opening quarter, as a handy 0-4 to 0-1 gap had opened up. But for the tenacious efforts of captain Tim Nyhan, Joseph Collins, Stephen Calnan and John O'Sullivan, allied to the smart play of O'Callaghan now in an attacking role, the story could have been much worse for Kilmacabea.

That is exactly what followed. Wall had a fine point from play with Seán McCarthy and Conor O'Donovan instrumental in the build-up. Then followed the only major of the hour in the 19th minute and a score fit to win any match.

A brilliant sideline taken by the impressive Darren Hickey was collected at pace by Wall. Turning his marker, he cut inside the cover; picked his spot before unleashing a searing drive that beat the dependable Pádraig Burke all ends up.

With the low ball to the forwards working a treat, Wall again converted a free, the lead now a daunting 1-6 to 0-1. In fairness to Kilmacabea, they regrouped, revamped and reformed, none more so than O'Callaghan, Richard Jennings, Calnan, Collins and Nyhan. The former had that point mentioned at the outset, but when Wall converted a further free, the task looked of mammoth proportions. However, the Leap boys finished on a high, fine points by Richard Jennings and a free from the very reliable Colin McCarthy giving them real hope for the resumption, 1-7 to 0-4 in arrears.

RAMPANT

What a transformation the wind and a rejuvenated Kilmacabea brought about. Six minutes into the final half they had cut the deficit to a mere three points. A Colin McCarthy free, a tremendous score by Tim Nyhan and an equally impressive one from a now rampant Andrew O'Callaghan had alarm bells ringing in the Kilbrittain camp. Ivan Burke was now at centre forward and Kilbrittain had introduced a plethora of substitutes including James Moloney, Robert Hayes, Declan Harrington, Seán Hayes and Nicholas O'Donovan who all had positive impacts as the pressure mounted.

A Kilmacabea attacking foray involving Nyhan, O'Callaghan and Colman O'Riordan saw the latter shoot just wide of the target.

A tremendous Colin McCarthy point had the Kilmac followers on their feet as the excitement decibel level elevated. Following that Wall free it was all hands to the Kilbrittain pump now. Ethan O'Mahony made the first of two truly wonder saves when he denied the outstanding Andrew O'Callaghan from point blank range in the 52nd minute. Three minutes later Kilbrittain got a glorious opportunity (a second half rarity), to seal the match. An amazing sequence of play saw a Wall free collected by substitute James Moloney who had his effort deflected for a 45. Sexton took it; it was collected by Darren Hickey who saw his bullet of a drive rebound outfield to safety for Kilmacabea.

Sensing all was not lost, Kilmacabea powered forward in wave after wave of attacks. Sandwiched in between two splendid frees by Colin McCarthy in the 60th and 62nd minutes was another stupendous reflex save by Ethan O'Mahony who somehow got across to stop a goal-bound drive by Kilmacabea substitute Eoin O'Neill. Amidst a welter of excitement impartial match official Dave Murnane from Macroom blew full-time and Kilbrittain were safely home, but by the skin of their teeth.

Our verdict: So Kilbrittain have been crowned dual champions, but what about the Trojan efforts of a so determined Kilmacabea side, who came so near, but at the long whistle, were yet again denied a vital and so elusive victory. There remains little doubt that two factors basically won the day for the Black and Amber. That scintillating scoring spree from sorcerer Jamie Wall in the first half, allied to those two breathtaking saves by Ethan O'Mahony in the dying minutes.

Kilmacabea came desperately close, agonisingly so when one considers that they squandered a few glorious chances during the game. They fought the good fight and while this is of little solace, in Andrew O'Callaghan they had a man of the match contender. On the Kilbrittain side there were a few, particularly Ethan O'Mahony and some of the defence, but it would be a travesty of justice to ignore the claims of Jamie Wall, who contributed the entire Kilbrittain scoring dividend.

Tom McAuliffe, development officer of the Cork Minor Board, did the honours after a sporting game, Seán McCarthy being the overjoyed Kilbrittain skipper recipient.

Man of the match: Jamie Wall, Kilbrittain.

Scorers - Kilbrittain: Jamie Wall 1-8, 0-6 frees. Kilmacabea: Colin McCarthy 0-6, 0-5 frees, Andrew O'Callaghan 0-2, 0-1 free, Richard Jennings 0-1, Tim Nyhan 0-1.

Kilbrittain: Ethan O'Mahony, Darren Hickey, Conor Moloney, Chris Hickey, Maurice Sexton, Pádraig Sheehan, Aidan Moloney, Jamie Wall, Conor O'Donovan, Ivan Burke, Seán McCarthy, James O'Mahony. Subs: James Moloney, Robert Hayes, Nicholas O'Donovan, Declan Harrington, Seán Hayes.

Kilmacabea: Pádraig Burke, Thomas Jennings, Joseph O'Callaghan, Colman O'Riordan, Stephen Calnan, Andrew O'Callaghan, Joseph Collins, John O'Sullivan, Tim Nyhan, Colin McCarthy, Pádraig McCarthy, Richard Jennings. Subs: Conor O'Callaghan, Seán O'Regan and Eoin O'Neill.

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