JOHN MURPHY REPORTS
NEW kings will be crowned in this season’s South West junior A hurling championship.
Impressive Kilbree emphatically stripped current champions Clonakilty of their title at sunny Ahiohill on Sunday evening to advance to the last four.
The 2016 champions had too much for the reigning champs who were short six regulars including Denis Murphy and Thomas Clancy while Cork U21 star David Lowney came on as a sub.
Lowney entered the fray for the last 20 minutes and made his presence felt with a superb side-line cut and a brace of beauties from play, but by that juncture the horse had bolted.
After Sean White had given Clonakilty an early lead, Kilbree came out of the traps and with unerring free-taker Don McCarthy, Brian O’Donovan, midfielders Ray Collins and captain Dylan Coffey, Damien O’Gorman and Sean Reale all excelling, Clonakilty were on the back foot, grateful for staunch defending by Pa O’Sullivan, Mark Sheehy and Liam O’Donovan.
Darragh Coakley shot a fabulous sixth minute goal and approaching the interval Kilbree had opened up a substantial 1-9 to 0-4 advantage.
But Clonakilty are doughty champions and two quick-fire goals in as many minutes from Timmy Anglin and Peter Walsh, following great work by Martin Scally and Liam O’Donovan, rocked the winners.
On resuming, three white flags in as many minutes by Don McCarthy extended Kilbree’s advantage, but with the White brothers, Mark and Sean, chipping away at the deficit it still was all to play for.
Lowney’s introduction added more firepower to Clonakilty’s attack, but three goal attempts from frees by Mark White were foiled by fabulous defending from Brian Keohane, John Clancy and Jonathan Deasy plus the vigilance of shot-stopper Aidan O’Shea.
By the 54th minute Clonakilty were given a glimmer of hope as the lead was cut to 1-17 to 2-11 – but delightful points by Don McCarthy and Damien O’Gorman sent Kilbree into the semi-final.
Former Cork, Inniscarra and Midleton star Ger Manley, Kilbree’s trainer, reflected on a job well done at the final whistle.
‘We were by far the better team, the intense hurling done over the past few weeks very evident out there. Clonakilty were short several regulars, but remember they are a seasoned team, have been around the block and did not make it easy for us,’ Manley said.
‘Those two Clonakilty goals just before the interval set us back, but we finished well and our fitness shone through.’
It is a very open championship now declares the former Cork star.
‘Clonakilty would have been favourites, but any of the remaining five teams could win it. They are all good hurling sides and cannot be taken lightly, everyone will fancy their chances and that will make for some great matches to come.’
Kilbree: Don McCarthy 0-11 (8f), Darragh Coakley1-3, Shane O’Donovan, Damien O’Gorman 0-2 each, Dylan Coffey, Donal McSweeney 0-1 each.
Clonakilty: Sean White 0-5 (3f), Peter Walsh 1-1, David Lowney 0-3 (0-1 sideline), Timmy Anglin 1-0, Cian Hennessy, Mark White (1f) 0-1 each.
Kilbree: Aidan O’Shea; Sean Deasy, Jonathan Deasy, Brian Keohane; John Clancy, Brian O’Donovan, Kevin Keohane; Dylan Coffey, Ray Collins; Shane O’Donovan, Don McCarthy, Darragh Coakley; Joseph O’Donovan, Damien O’Gorman, Sean Reale.
Subs: Ogie Scannell for Shane O’Donovan (inj, 28), Donal McSweeney for Joseph O’Donovan (41), Martin O’Donovan for Sean Reale (53).
Clonakilty: Mark White; Colm Crowley, Pa O’Sullivan, Sean O’Donoghue; Mark Sheehy, David O’Regan, Liam O’Donovan; Alan Murphy, Sean White; Cian O’Donovan, Tiarnán O’Connell, Martin Scally; Cian Hennessy, Timmy Anglin, Peter Walsh.
Subs used: Ciarán Crowley for Colm Crowley (27), David Lowney for Liam O’Donovan (41), Olan O’Donovan for Tiarnán O’Connell (55).
Referee: Mick O’Mahony (Kilbrittain).