CORK’S battle-hardened champions surprisingly drew a blank in their quest for All-Ireland honours on Waterford’s Copper Coast recently.
An Ulster double for Brendan Rafferty and Frank Oliver and a shock Leinster victory for JP Clinton left the Rebel County bereft as Fenor’s successful hosting concluded on the Sunday evening.
Sean Paul McDonagh, having blazed a trail against all comers in novice C and novice 1, was deemed a Cork banker but Clinton, a son of previous two-time winner Peter, had shown plenty in previous outings to command respect.
This was one occasion when McDonagh could not recover from a slack start. The All-Ireland novice 1 cup, dedicated to the late Jerry Desmond, goes back to the Clinton household where it last rested in 2018. The novice 1 final did not carry a stake.
Beal na Morrive’s Ruairi O’Connell has enjoyed an amazing novice 2 (D) campaign throughout 2022, but he too fell agonisingly short of All-Ireland glory when losing out to Ulster’s Francis Oliver in the second of Sunday’s deciders. The stake at issue amounted €11,200.
Brendan Rafferty duly made it an Ulster double when he accounted for Boston’s Sean O’Mahony in the junior C final. The last of the day carried a substantial €13,200 with both finalists well-supported.
The stand-out fixture to emerge from Friday night’s semi-final draw in Mother McHughe’s popular establishment in Fenor was the junior C clash of champions North and South, a single-hand duel as London did not have representation at this level. A right set-to, it proved to be on the Saturday, but there was disappointment for the Cork and Lyre camps as David Hegarty’s splendid run came to an end at the hands of Brendan Rafferty.
All the more so as he was the dominant force for much of the score leading at all points until the 13th shot. A majestic tenth throw of Hegarty’s looked to raise a bowl of odds but when his 11th broke off the centre, he lost a lot of ground. A very poor 12th left it level and from there, Rafferty showed his true worth with a sublime finish as he scored the line in 15 to record a big fore bowl win. They played for a total of €12,200. The second junior C semi concluded Saturday’s six-score schedule and here it was Boston’s Sean O’Mahony, a two-time novice 1 All-Ireland winner who came through against Leinster’s Gary Shevlin and Connacht’s ever faithful, David Hughes.
Getting the Fenor hosting underway shortly after 9.30am on Saturday were the novice 1 semi-finals, both three-way contests. Sean Paul McDonagh was pitched in against North America’s Bantry native Kevin O’Riordan and London’s perennial performer, Danny O’Shea. McDonagh came through here.
The second novice 1 semi was a hard-fought engagement between Leinster’s JP Clinton of Louth, Ulster’s Paddy O’Neill and Connacht’s Ger Kennedy. Clinton took it at the end by almost a bowl. The novice 2 semi-finals back resulted in Frank Oliver and Ruairi O’Connell coming through. Ulster’s Oliver was too good for Mayo’s Matt Sheridan and Leinster’s Peter Deasy while Cork’s champion O’Connell easily saw off the challenge of North America’s hard-trying representative, Andy Shay of West Virginia.