South West champions miss out on county final as Budd lights up Páirc Uí Rinn
Russell Rovers 1-13
IT was heartbreak for South West champions Kilbree in the semi-final of the county junior A hurling championship in Páirc Uí Rinn.
Having conceded a goal inside the first minute and fallen behind by six points after only five minutes, underdogs Kilbree rallied to draw level on no less than five occasions throughout the hour only to miss two great chances of an equalising point in the dying seconds when they trailed by a point.
Throw in losing their top forward and ace free-taker Don McCarthy through injury only five minutes into the second half and being denied what looked a blatant penalty in the 28th minute and the Kilbree men had good reason to regret losing a marvellous opportunity to reach their first-ever county junior A final.
‘We got a bad start but we played unbelievably well,’ said a disappointed Kilbree coach Ger Manley.
‘We knew Budd Hartnett would cause us problems, he’s a county-class player but Keving Keohane did a fine job on him for most of the game. Don McCarthy was a huge loss to us, not just for the frees.
‘Overall, they seemed to get every break going. I thought a lot of refereeing decisions went against us on the night but that’s hurling. We thought we should have got a penalty in the first half but it didn’t come.
‘I think we have improved immensely right through the year and they showed it tonight. Just a couple of small things would have changed the result. You’d have to be proud of all the lads and the effort they made.’
The game was only 30 seconds old when ace Rovers’ forward Brian ‘Budd’ Hartnett rounded his man and struck a great goal, and when impressive full forward Josh Beausang, a former Cork minor, pointed from play and a free to supplement a point from Jack McGrath, the East Cork champions were six points to the good after only five minutes and totally dominating proceedings.
It took Kilbree almost ten minutes to find their feet but once Damien O’Gorman hit their first point, a goal chance being on, there was an amazing shift in the game.
The Kilbree half-back line of John Clancy, Brian O’Donovan and Kevin Keohane took a firm grip to cut off the supply of ball to the dangerous Hartnett and Beausang, and driving forward the South West men hit six points in a row to level the scores by the 20th minute. Don McCarthy hit three including two from frees, while Darragh Coakley and John Clancy raised white flags as shell-shocked Rovers hardly got a look in.
Kevin Moynihan finally halted the blue tide with a point and Hatnett added another but back came Kilbree with two frees from Don McCarthy to level for the second time.
Beausang pointed Rovers in front before Kilbree were denied what looked a blatant penalty when Sean Reale was flattened in front of goal but they did have the final say with a Darragh Coakley point to level the scores at half time, 1-6 to 0-9.
It was again Rovers who started the second half better when Kieran Walsh and Beausang rattled over two points and Kilbree were dealt a severe blow when ace free-taker Don McCarthy limped off after 35 minutes.
Undaunted, they rallied again and with midfielder Dylan Coffey taking over the free-taking duties, they were back level when Coffey converted two placed balls.
It was end-to-end stuff now but the Rovers’ forwards were providing more penetration as they surged three points in front with scores from the rampaging Hartnett (2) and Luke Duggan-Murray as the game entered the last quarter.
Coffey and Beausang swapped frees before gallant Kilbree came again. With Ray Collins and Dylan Coffey gaining a grip at midfield, it was the two midfielders who again drew the sides level when Coffey converted two frees and Collins had Kilbree’s first, and only, point from play in the second half when he drew the sides level for the fifth time, in the 57th minute.
It was anybody’s game in the pulsating closing minutes and it was Josh Beausang who provided the touch of class to separate the sides when he pointed in the 59th minute.
Kilbree refused to throw in the towel in injury time as they manufactured two great chances to level but the first resulted in a free for Rovers for over-carrying and the second was driven badly wide.
‘You couldn’t say they were better than us tonight,’ said Manley. ‘A draw? I thought we should have won it. The goal, the first minute, that was the winner. We should have taken some more chances, and we had our chances at the very end. We were unlucky.’
Russell Rovers: Brian Hartnett 1-3, Josh Beausang 0-5 (3f), Kevin Moynihan 0-2, Kieran Walsh, Jack McGrath, Luke Duggan-Murray 0-1 each.
Kilbree: Don McCarthy (4f), Dylan Coffey (5f) 0-5 each, Darragh Coakley 0-2, Damien O’Gorman, John Clancy, Ray Collins 0-1 each.
Russell Rovers: Ian Smiddy; Paul Lane, Chris Ruddy, Eoghan O’Sullivan; Kevin O’Brien, John Paul Ivers, James Kennefick; Daniel Moynihan, Kieran Walsh; Kevin Moynihan, Jack McGrath, Luke Duggan-Murray; Fintan Murray, Josh Beausang, Brian Hartnett.
Subs: Eoin McGrath for K Moynihan (42), Brian Whelhan for D Moynihan (44), Daniel Moynihan for J McGrath (60).
Kilbree: Denis Dullea; Brian Keohane, Jonathan Deasy, Sean Deasy; John Clancy, Brian O’Donovan, Kevin Keohane; Dylan Coffey, Ray Collins; Darragh Coakley, Don McCarthy, Óige Scannell; Sean Reale, Damien O’Gorman, Donal McSweeney.
Subs: Joseph O’Donovan for D McCarthy (35), Cathal Daly for D McSweeney (38), Shane Scannell for S Reale (42).
Referee: D Daly (Brian Dillons).