Brendan Ryan scores late winner as Rovers win hurling crown
Courcey Rovers 0-14
Valley Rovers 0-13
JOHN NEWMAN REPORTS
THE long wait is over. Courcey Rovers are back on top of the pile in South East hurling.
In a thrilling Good Fish Company South East junior A hurling decider at Belgooly Courceys dethroned the reigning champions, Valley Rovers, as they ended a 17-year gap since they last won the coveted Carrigdhoun cup.
It was in 2001 that Courceys last won The Con Murphy Cup, named in memory of the late GAA President, and that year they went on to win the county title.
For Valley Rovers, they went down with their boots on. They were going for the three-in-a-row and, in a game where the teams were level on eight occasions, it had looked like a replay was on the cards.
But then Courceys corner forward Brendan Ryan became the hero of the hour when he scored his dramatic 59th minute match-winning point to spark great celebrations at the final whistle.
Valleys still had chances after that, and a late long-range free from Darragh Looney just shaded the upright.
Played before a good-sized crowd, both sides went helter-skelter from the start and they were level, 0-3 apiece, at the end of the first quarter.
It was a period when Valleys dominated the possession stakes but between poor shooting and the incessant marking from the Courcey defenders, they weren’t able to translate that superiority to the scoreboard.
At this stage too, the new champions-in-waiting appeared to possess a greater hunger as they hunted in packs and were rewarded with fine scores from man-of-the-match Colm Daly, Richard Sweetnam and Brendan Ryan.
By the 21st minute Valleys began to compose themselves thanks to the steadiness of Michael O’Brien, Shane O’Leary and Gary Deane in defence. Darragh Looney, Aaron Lyons, Joe Crowley (2) and Bill Hawkes all scored points in a tremendous five-minute spell as Valleys hit the front to lead by 0-7 to 0-5 by the 26th minute.
Colm Daly did pull a point back from a free for Courceys before half time, as they trailed by a single score, 0-7 to 0-6.
An early free from Looney in the second half gave Valleys a two-point lead before Courceys responded with points from Daly (an 80m free) and wing back Liam Collins to level the game, 0-8 apiece.
Looney and Daly swapped scores again as the game roared towards a thrilling conclusion, the outcome in the balance. These two continued to trade points and with five minutes left the teams were still level, 0-12 apiece.
Valleys’ Adam Settini, following great grafting by Looney, then landed a lead point for his side from the wing with three minutes left.
The Courceys defence stood solid as as Colm Daly continued to exert his influence with strong runs deep into the heart of the Valleys defence. After he was fouled, Daly again levelled matters, and we were tied going down the final straight.
Then the Valleys defence was under pressure and a clearance fell to Brendan Ryan who struck the winning point sweetly.
Following the game Myles Barry, vice-chairman of the South East board, presented the cup to Courcey Rovers captain John Collins while Tom Keogh of the Huntsman, Belgooly, presented the man-of-the-match award to Colm Daly of Courceys.
Courcey Rovers: C Daly 0-9 (6f), R Sweetnam, B Ryan 0-2 each, L Collins 0-1.
Valley Rovers: D Looney 0-8 (7f, 1 65), J Crowley 0-2, A Lyons, B Hawkes, A Settini 0-1 each.
Courcey Rovers: T Keating; C Duggan, D Lordan, S Allen; L Collins, R Nyhan, M Dorman; R Sweetnam, C Daly; S Moloney, T Collins, B Ryan; R O’Donovan, J Collins, T Connery.
Subs: S Russell for R O’Donovan, D Collins for T Connery.
Valley Rovers: E Burke; S O’Leary, T Cummins, D Lynch; G Deane, M O’Brien, I Crowley; D Lordan, B Hawkes; J Crowley, D Looney, M O’Leary; A Lyons, M Savic, A Settini.
Subs: P Hurley for M Savic, D Sweetnam for M O’Leary, S Lordan, for B Hawkes.
Referee: B Coniry (Crosshaven).