BRENDAN KENNEALLY REPORTS
KILMURRY are Ross Oil Mid Cork junior football champions for the first time since 2017.
The new kings of Muskerry enjoyed a comfortable win over reigning champions Aghinagh in a moderately entertaining final before a big crowd at Coachford.
A huge reward for this win is that Kilmurry have also won promotion to the new premier junior county football championship that is coming online in 2023. Onward and upward.
Aghinagh, who had defeated Kilmurry on their way to last year’s victory, scored first and the sides were level at 0-3 each as late as the 27th minute but then man-of-the-match Padraig Berhanu struck for his first goal. Kilmurry had added three further points before halftime to lead by 1-6 to 0-3 at the break. It was fairly clear at this stage that Kilmurry would emerge the ultimate winners.
Kilmurry set out their team with five in attack and William Ronan, named at wing forward, in the half-back line, with James O’Mullane moving out as an extra midfielder.
The new champions were to dominate the centre of the field, largely curtailed the threat of Aghinagh centre forward Liam Twohig, so often their match winner, and had the Aghinagh defence under severe pressure with long and probing balls into the dangerous attacking inside trio of Berhanu, William Buckley and Joe Ryan. The pace of Liam Wall on the 40 made life very difficult for his opponents.
Both sides settled quickly and the opening quarter gave promise of a tight contest, though as it progressed Kilmurry were beginning to put their opponents under increasing pressure.
Gearóid O’Sullivan had the opening score, a point for Aghinagh after three minutes. Padraig Berhanu was fouled and William Buckley kicked the equaliser from a free in the sixth minute. Immediately after Liam Wall sent Kilmurry into the lead with a fine point from play. Signs of concern in the Aghinagh camp with their growing midfield problems were evident with the early introduction of Sean Kelleher and positional switches. Thomas Morgan then kicked over a fine equaliser, Joe Ryan put Kilmurry back in front but Liam Twohig took a pass from Aodh Twomey and levelled the scores at 0-3 each in the 20th minute.
Kilmurry wasted some good scoring opportunities with inaccurate shooting and the sides were still level in the 27th minute before Kilmurry hit a purple patch that effectively decided the contest.
The goal resulted from an uncontested Aghinagh kick out, collected by Liam Wall who drove at the Aghinagh defence before firing the ball into Joe Ryan. He passed to the lurking Padraig Berhanu behind his marker and in a flash the net was shaking.
Berhanu then collected a pass from Padraig Hinchion and added a point. William Buckley pointed a free. Berhanu fired over another point as the Aghinagh defenders were struggling to cope with the incessant pressure. Half time saw Kilmurry leading by 1-6 to 0-3 and they were in a strong position.
Five minutes into the second half Kilmurry applied the killer blow when Joe Ryan collected a ball wide on the Aghinagh end line, turned his marker, advanced, drew the last defender and then floated over the ball over to the inrushing Padraig Berhanu who palmed the ball to the net. James O’Mullane quickly added a point and with the score at 2-7 to 0-3, and Kilmurry in the ascendancy all over the field, there was only going to be one outcome.
Liam Twohig pointed a free in the 38th minute to end a 20-minute scoreless period for his side. Liam Wall replied for Kilmurry. Twohig and substitute Ryan Leahy exchanged points, Darragh McCarthy for Aghinagh and Wall again did likewise. Forty-seven minutes gone, it was 2-10 to 0-6 to Kilmurry.
In the 50th minute, Liam Twohig had another point from a free for Aghinagh. Four minutes later Kilmurry goalkeeper Jason McDonnell was penalised for not releasing the ball as he lay on the ground. A penalty was awarded and Twohig’s spot kick was excellently taken.
Another Twohig point from a free reduced the gap to five points as the game went into injury-time. Six minutes into that period Liam Wall combined with Sean Warren before burying the ball in the far corner of the Aghinagh net to complete an excellent day for himself and for Kilmurry, who had already won the divisional league title as well.
Team manager Cormac Linehan was profuse in his praise of his charges after the game.
‘There are a lot of good teams in the Muskerry championship and it is very hard to win this title,’ he said. ‘We respect everyone but we have worked our socks off this year with a great panel of players who all bought into the project.’
Looking ahead to the upcoming county championship campaign, manager Linehan said that all year they have looked no further than the next match and have 'taken it game by game’. Therefore they will focus now on their clash with the Carbery champions in a county quarter-final on October 15th/16th.
Kilmurry: P Berhanu 2-2; L Wall 1-3; W Buckley 0-2 (f); J Ryan, Js O’Mullane, R Leahy 0-1 each.
Aghinagh: L Twohig 1-5 (1-0 pen, 4f); T Morgan, G O’Sullivan, D McCarthy 0-1 each.
Kilmurry: Jason McDonnell; Brian Hinchion, Fionn Warren, Gearóid O’Mahony; Tomás Collins, William Ronan, Padraig Hinchion; Kyle Kelleher, James O’Mullane; Rory Duggan, Liam Wall, Lawrence Asling; Padraig Berhanu, William Buckley, Joe Ryan.
Subs: Sean Curzon for R Duggan (ht), Ryan Leahy for W Buckley (38), Daniel Cahalane for L Asling (49), Sean Warren for Berhanu (58), Patrick Grainger for G O’Mahony (61).
Aghinagh: Jason McCarthy; Donagh O’Riordan, Dermot O’Callaghan, Luke O’Leary; Donal Corkery, Dave Barry, Declan Ambrose; Gearóid O’Sullivan, Euan Coughlan; Mathew McCarthy, Liam Twohig, Aodh Twomey; William Coakley, TJ Buckley, Thomas Morgan.
Subs: Sean Kelleher for E Coughlan (19), Michael O’Brien for G O’Sullivan (inj, ht), Adam O’Leary for M McCarthy (38), Shane Corkery for T Morgan (42), Darragh McCarthy for TJ Buckley (43).
Referee: Brendan Barry-Murphy (Aghabullogue).