Bantry Blues 0-14
TOM LYONS REPORTS
GOALKEEPER David Desmond was the hero of Kilbrittain’s last-gasp victory over luckless Bantry Blues in the RCM Tarmacadam junior B hurling final in perfect conditions in Dunmanway on Saturday.
Four points in front with ten minutes left and dominating the game physically, Bantry looked well on their way to their second title in three years – but the closing ten minutes belonged to a resurgent Kilbrittain side. Taking control, they pushed forward in search of scores. With Eamonn Lyons faultless from frees, they cut the lead to a single point by the 62nd minute.
Bantry supporters were anxiously scanning their watches when Lyons launched a long free into the Bantry goalmouth, Kilbrittain’s Conor O’Donovan won possession and was fouled. Penalty, ruled efficient referee Jack Forbes.
Up came goalkeeper Desmond to take the penalty. A point for Kilbrittain guaranteed extra time or a goal to win the game? Desmond lifted, struck and the sliotar whistled over the Bantry goalkeeper’s head, under the crossbar and into the net. There was no time left for a puck-out and Kilbrittain had snatched the title, 2-10 to 0-14. Delight for the Black and Amber, heartbreak for the Blues.
‘When we got the free, I had shouted up the field to take a point,’ explained goalkeeper hero David Desmond.
‘Then the selectors told me to go up and take it, to go for a goal. That was my first-ever penalty in a hurling match, never took one before. I just blasted the ball as hard as I could and thankfully it went in.
‘We actually missed a penalty in the intermediate final against Lisgoold and I said before the game today if there was a penalty, I would take it.
‘This is my first year playing junior B. I was out all last year, injured. Some of the lads have played in all three finals, so it was nice for them to win at last. I was a selector for the three years but made a comeback this season. There was a massive effort put in this year.’
There was nothing between two well-matched sides in the first quarter, although Bantry, who had to line out without their injured ace forward Shane O’Neill, were physically the stronger side. The biggest feature of the game was the shoot-out between two excellent free-takers, Eamonn Lyons for Kilbrittain and Seanie O’Leary for Bantry. Lyons hit two points from play and one from a free, Conor Hogan got the fourth point for Kilbrittain, while O’Leary pointed two from frees and one from play, and Bantry’s best player, midfielder Ronan O’Mahony, got the fourth. Just before the water break, Ruairí Deane fired wide across the Kilbrittain goalmouth.
Lyons and goalkeeper Desmond swapped points at the beginning of the second quarter before stronger Bantry took control, with O’Mahony, the three O’Leary brothers, Stephen Coughlan, Arthur Coakley, Cathal McCarthy, Daniel Murray and Deane prominent. Two frees from O’Leary and one from play by Coakley had Bantry in front by 0-8 to 0-5 at the halfway mark.
The third quarter saw four points being shared – O’Leary (free) and Deane for the Blues and Cian O’Leary and Lyons for Kilbrittain – as the action began to build up, with Bantry the more impressive outfit. Out of the blue, Kilbrittain struck for an equalising goal in the 41st minute when Lyons’ 65 was deflected to the net but Bantry struck back with points from Ronan O’Mahony and Shane Murray.
0-12 to 1-7 ahead at the second water break, Bantry built on their lead at the beginning of the last quarter with two pointed frees from O’Leary, and Kilbrittain looked a beaten outfit. Inexplicably, Bantry began to fall back on defence to protect their lead and fitter Kilbrittain took advantage to play themselves into the game in the closing ten minutes.
With Damien Desmond, Sean Crowley, Padraig Brennan, Mikaloji Kalilika, Eoin O’Neill, Eamonn Lyons, Conor Hogan and Cian O’Leary pushing forward, Kilbrittain went in search of scores. Three long-range frees, superb efforts, by Lyons cut the lead to a single point as the drama and tension mounted. Then came the dramatic finish already described. It’s never over until the fat lazy sings and it was the Black and Amber who were celebrating, having lost the previous two finals, on a score of 2-10 to 0-14, as the Walsh Cup was presented to outstanding captain Eamonn Lyons by Tom Lyons, chairperson of the Carbery GAA Board.
Scorers – Kilbrittain: Eamonn Lyons 1-8 (1-0 65, 5f); David Desmond 1-0 (penalty); Conor Hayes, Cian O’Leary 0-1 each. Bantry Blues: Seanie O’Leary 0-9 (7f); Ronan O’Mahony 0-2; Ruairí Deane, Shane Murray, Michael O’Sullivan (1f) 0-1 each.
Kilbrittain: David Desmond; Sean Crowley, Damien Desmond, Mikaloji Kalilaki; Owen Byrne, Padraig Brennan, Seamus O’Sullivan; Eoin O’Neill, Conor O’Donovan; Dylan Twohig, Eamonn Lyons, Mark O’Shea; Conor Hogan, Cian O’Leary, Mark Hickey. Sub: Kieran Murphy for E O’Neill.
Bantry Blues: Michael O’Sullivan; Kevin Coakley, Jimmy O’Leary, Owen Minihane; Stephen Coughlan, Connie O’Leary, Robin McCarthy; Dara McCarthy, Ronan O’Mahony; James Lavin, Arthur Coakley, Cathal McCarthy; Daniel Murray, Seanie O’Leary, Ruairí Deane. Subs: Shane Murray for D Murray, Killian O’Sullivan for J Lavin.
Referee: Jack Forbes (Dohenys).