Abbey Rovers 3-5
JOHN Cullinane’s legend is guaranteed after he inspired Goleen GAA to their greatest day.
Previously, Goleen had won just two South West junior B football titles but all that changed with this historic county junior C football championship triumph at Brinny last Friday night, as the club captured its first-ever county adult title. Little wonder they celebrated in style.
When tales are told and legends grow of this marvellous victory, the name of one man will stand tall and proud above all others in those tales. Yes, Pat Connolly was the trainer and inspiration behind this wonderful achievement and deserved huge credit for the work done with this team for the past few seasons, but even he bowed the knee to the now legendary John Cullinane, the Goleen midfielder.
On the most important occasion in the club’s history, the Goleen veteran was magnificent, leading the side through example, taking the game by the scruff of the neck in the second half and emerging top scorer with six points.
‘First time ever, unbelievable,’ an exhausted but delighted Cullinane told The Southern Star afterwards.
‘I’m a long time on the road looking for that, some might say too long, but I’m absolutely thrilled. When they got the two goals in the first half, putting them six points ahead, of course we were worried but the spirit in this lot is amazing.
‘At half time it wasn’t looking too good for us but we had proved in the second half in previous games that we could fight back. When we played them in the first round they also led us but we came back to win. We knew we could do it.’
That first half was certainly a disaster for the Goleen men as they conceded two goals. Muiris Browne had opened the scoring for Abbeys but Jack Murphy and Daniel O’Driscoll, both impressive up front, replied for Goleen. Then came the first goal in the 12th minute when a shot for a point by Niall Hazelwood came back off the Goleen crossbar and Eoin Noonan reacted fastest to finish to the net.
It was 1-1 to 0-2 at the end of the first quarter but when Mark O’Callaghan kicked an Abbey point and then Muiris Browne’s shot for a point dipped wickedly under the crossbar and into the back of the net in the 19th minute, Goleen found themselves six points in arrears, 2-2 to 0-2, and in dire trouble.
The lively Darren O’Donovan began the fight-back with a good point, followed by John Cullinane’s first minor, but the comeback looked futile when Abbey midfielder Shay Mullane, delegated to kick the frees only the previous night, rifled two placed balls between the Goleen posts to again open up a six-point gap. On the stroke of half time, Daniel O’Driscoll landed a Goleen point but they trailed by 2-4 to 0-5.
‘In the second half we had to up the tempo,’ said Cullinane.
‘Darren O’Donovan’s goal put us on the right road. We kicked some nice points afterwards but Darren’s goal was the real turning point. We weren’t going to be beaten after that. It was a goal as good as you’d see in Croke Park and it really
got us going.’
What Cullinane failed to say was that it was his second-half performance at midfield that really turned this game around. Good in the first half, he took complete control of the midfield area after the break, with great assistance from Liam O’Connell.
Cullinane began the real comeback with a pointed free and then came the score of the game in the 34th minute when Darren O’Donovan won possession near the sideline, weaved his way along the end line through a number of tackles before crashing the ball to the Abbey net from a near-impossible angle. It was a goal fit to win any final and knocked the wind completely out of the Castletownroche sails.
Cullinane pointed a free to tie the scores in the 37th minute, 1-7 to 2-4, and even though Abbeys hit the front again with a pointed free from goalkeeper Mick Devine, it was all Goleen now and that was to be Abbey’s only point of the half.
Captain Daniel O’Callaghan, Sean Sheehan, Padraig Reidy, David O’Leary, James Scully and Darryl Connell lorded the defence, Cullinane drove the team on from midfield, making some incisive bursts, and, up front, Darren O’Donovan, Jack Murphy, Tadhg Cullinane, Daniel O’Driscoll and sub Shane O’Leary were making inroads in the Abbey defence.
John Cullinane levelled the scores from play, Tadhg Cullinane put them in front and Cullinane made it 1-10 to 2-5 by the end of a hectic third quarter. When the impressive James Scully landed a point, the lead was up to three.
As the Goleen men employed a sweeper in the closing ten minutes to safeguard their lead, further points from Jack Murphy and Cullinane (free) seemed to put the seal on a marvellous win.
There was one last twist in the tale when Abbey substitute Mick Linehan availed of a rare defensive error to finish the ball to the Goleen net in the 62nd minute; the lead was down to a dangerous two points.
But Goleen were not going to be denied their great hour of glory and on a final score of 1-13 to 3-5, the new junior C cup was heading west to the Mizen Head into the sinking sun.
Goleen: John Cullinane 0-6 (4f); Darren O’Donovan 1-1; Daniel O’Driscoll, Jack Murphy 0-2 each; James Scully, Tadhg Cullinane 0-1 each.
Abbey Rovers: Muiris Browne 1-1; Eoin Noonan, Mick Linehan 1-0 each; Shay Mullane 0-2f; Mark O’Callaghan, Mick Devine (1f) 0-1 each.
Goleen: Padraig Downey; Daniel O’Callaghan, David O’Leary, Darryl Connell; Sean Sheehan, Padraig Scully, James Scully; John Cullinane, Liam O’Connell; Darren O’Donovan, Tadhg Cullinane, Jack Murphy; Brendan Goggin, Daniel O’Driscoll, David Farrell.
Subs used: Aaron Barry, Padraig Reidy, Shane O’Leary, Brendan Scully.
Abbey Rovers: Mick Devine; Will Madden, John Batterberry, David Relihan; Harry O’Farrell, Adrian O’Donovan, Pat Madden; Shay Mullane, Philip Murphy; Wesley Walshe, Muiris Browne, Russell O’Brien; Eoin Noonan, Marcus O’Callaghan, Niall Hazelwood. Subs used: Richard Relihan, James Linehan, Adrian O’Callaghan, Mick Linehan.
Referee: Kieran Feury (Cill na Martra).