St Colum’s 0-4
AS the rain lashed down and the spectators huddled under umbrellas, the junior A hurlers of Kilbree completed the championship/league double when they accounted for outgunned St Colum’s in the Division 1 league final in Kealkill.
Competing in the county championship and county league in recent weeks, Kilbree came up against a Colums’ side that had hardly caught a hurley in the past three months and it told on the day.
Showing a great first touch and team effort, Kilbree carried their good form into this final and even though the Kealkill men made a game of it in the first half when playing with the elements, they were totally outgunned in a one-sided second half.
Although Colum’s got off to a fine start with a pointed free from Cormac O’Connor, who was their only scorer on the day, once Darragh Coakley raced through for a great solo gun in the sixth minute, Kilbree never looked back and were never subsequently headed on the scoreboard.
They were a goal in front at the break and held Colum’s scoreless in the second half while adding 1-10 to their total.
‘It’s great to win the double, we’ve never done that before,’ said team manager Tim O’Brien.
‘It’s very hard on Colum’s, trying to finish leagues when you’re out of the championship. We were in that position not so long ago but we stuck at it and it paid off.
‘We’ve had a great year and we still have to play the county league final. Our lads are hurling well now after a long season. We just do a puck-around in the ball alley now, once a week, and have a chat.
‘We wouldn’t be here today as double champions without Ger Manley, the work that man has put in as coach for the past three years. What he has brought to us, we’ll be forever grateful to that man.
‘Of course, it’s no good having a great trainer if the players aren’t on side as well and from day one they bought into him. You can see the results this season.’
After O’Connor had put Colum’s in front from a free, Kilbree levelled with a fine point from strong full forward Liam O’Brien, and then came Coakley’s superb goal to put the double winners in front.
Play was nip and tuck in the worsening conditions, and scores were hard-earned in difficult circumstances, as Ray Collins and O’Connor swapped points. Colums’ goalkeeper Mícheál Cronin played a starring role all through and he did well to prevent the hard-working Damien O’Gorman from finding the net as the first quarter ended 1-2 to 0-2 in Kilbree’s favour.
As the half progressed Kilbree’s half-back line of Kevin Keohane, Brian O’Donovan and John Clancy was getting more on top despite a great effort from Stephen Cronin and John Paul O’Sullivan for Colum’s.
At the other end of the pitch, the Colum’s back line was competing well, especially Donal Hurley, Damien Cronin, Ben Murphy and Dermot Cronin and they limited Kilbree to two points in the second quarter, as the rain lashed down, from Darragh Coakley, emerging as the top forward on the field, and Joseph O’Donovan.
However, the home side had to be content with two pointed frees from O’Connor as the visitors led by 1-4 to 0-4 at the break.
With the elements to their backs in the second half, Kilbree took complete control of the game. Midfielders, Dylan Coffey and Ray Collins, lorded the middle third and goalkeeper Denis Dullea was rock steady behind a top-class full-back line of Sean Deasy, Brian Keohane and, especially, Jonathan Deasy.Joseph O’Donovan and the rampant Darragh Coakley had Kilbree points on the restart before Liam O’Brien, making a welcome return after a long injury, found the net in the 36th minute.
Points from Coakley (free and play), O’Gorman and O’Brien had Kilbree in front by 2-10 to 0-4 at the end of the third quarter and in the last quarter, as Colum’s ran out of steam, the champions took advantage.
Subs, Michael Mennis and Daniel O’Donovan, got their names on the scoreboard, as did Coakley and Donal McSweeney in the last quarter with Colum’s trying their best to add to their total, Michael O’Sullivan striking the post with a superb overhead flick.
It finished 2-14 to 0-4 and the league cup was presented to captain, Dylan Coffey, by vice-chairman of the South West Board, Tom Lyons, as Kilbree celebrated the championship/league double.
Kilbree: Darragh Coakley 1-5 (2f), Liam O’Brien 1-2, Joseph O’Donovan 0-2, Ray Collins, Donal McSweeney, Damien O’Gorman, Michael Mennis and Daniel O’Donovan (1f) 0-1 each.
St Colum’s: Cormac O’Connor 0-4 (3f).
Kilbree: Denis Dullea; Sean Deasy, Jonathan Deasy, Brian Keohane; Kevin Keohane, Brian O’Donovan, John Clancy; Ray Collins, Dylan Coffey; Darragh Coakley, Donal McSweeney, Ogie Scannell; Joseph O’Donovan, Liam O’Brien, Damien O’Gorman.
Subs: Sean Reale for J O’Donovan (40), Michael Mennis for D Coffey (45), Daniel O’Donovan for R Collins (47), James Clancy for J Clancy (50), Jamie O’Donovan for D Coakley (50), Tom McCarthy for S Deasy (50), C Daly for J. Clancy (blood sub, 55).
St Colum’s: Mícheál Cronin; Donal Hurley, Damien Cronin, Daniel Lucey; Seamus McHugh, Dermot Cronin, Ben Murphy; Tony Harrington, Jamie McSweeney; Cormac O’Connor, John Paul O’Sullivan, Patrick Daly; Michael O’Sullivan, Stephen Cronin, Michael Daly.
Sub: Weslie O’Connor for M Daly (45).
Referee: John Forbes (Dohenys).