AUBERT TWOMEY REPORTS
DEFENDING champions Cloughduv proved far too strong in Ovens as they retained the Muskerry JAHC title with a straightforward win over Ballinora.
Having won three of the previous four divisional championships before this year and six of the last nine, a 24th victory was expected and so it proved, the with two goals in the space of a minute coming up to half-time proving crucial.
The one year of the past five where Cloughduv hadn’t come out on top was 2016, when Ballinora had claimed the silverware, and with good performances behind them in the run to the final, they were set to challenge but it was clear from the off that Cloughduv were a finely-tuned side.
Their talented young players were very much to the forefront and they raced into the attack following the throw in. James Moynihan raised a white flag in the first minute, Brian Verling added a second two minutes later and those early scores were a sign of things to come. Ballinora’s most dangerous forward David Howard got a point back for his side in the fourth minute but there was an immediate response from Cloughduv. Aidan Murphy and James Moynihan sent the sliotar between the uprights and Cloughduv performing confidently appeared likely to move further ahead.
A point from a free by Howard was slight respite for Ballinora but Cloughduv were ahead 0-7 to 0-2 by the beginning of the second quarter and pressing on.
Coming up to half-time, they all but made the outcome safe. Their first goal was scored by Joe Ryan, who was put in the clear by James Moynihan, and the latter secured a major himself in the 28th minute following good approach work by Brian Verling.
The first half ended with Cloughduv leading by 2-14 to 0-7 and few would have foreseen a way back for Ballinora. All they could hope for when the action resumed was damage limitation but there was no improvement in their fortunes as the winners’ defence conceded little while the point-scoring efforts of their forwards, playing within themselves, were mostly successful.
Joe Ryan was particularly impressive in that regard as his long-range efforts were at all times between the uprights. Cloughduv will now hope to make a good attempt to win a county title and it is something that could be within their grasp if they get a rub of the green.
Nevertheless, Ballinora will have a chance to regroup as they too progress to the county stage.
Cloughduv: J Ryan 1-5 (1f), B Verling 0-7 (5f), J Moynihan 1-3, D Corkery 0-3, M Walsh, KB Murphy 0-2 each, A Murphy 0-1.
Ballinora: D Howard 0-5f, D Holmes 0-2, D Corkery, A O’Shea (f) 0-1 each.
Cloughduv: C O’Driscoll; A Twomey, B Ahern, P Buckley; G Ahern, D O’Leary, E Clifford; A Murphy, KB Murphy; D Corkery, A Cronin, M Walsh; B Verling, J Ryan, J Moynihan.
Subs: D O’Sullivan for Ahern (46), L Long for Verling (51, injured), A Ahern for Moynihan (54), S Curzon for Cronin (57), A Cronin for B Ahern (60, injured).
Ballinora: B Crowley; D Dineen, B Hourihan, K Greally; T McGrath, C Brosnan, P Cronin; M Lordan, A O’Shea; D Corkery, R Connery, P Fitton; D Holmes, D Howard, K Murphy.
Sub: A O’Neill for D Dineen (43).
Referee: D Kirwan (Éire Óg).