St James 0-11
By Noel Horgan
THE bubble burst for St James last Sunday when they were comprehensively mastered by Avondhu kingpins Kilshannig in the county junior football championship final at Páirc Uí Rinn.
Having lifted the title against the odds at junior A level in Carbery for the first time in their history, the Ardfield men, after comfortably dispatching Cobh in Round 1, continued to don the underdog’s mantle with distinction when accounting for Boherbue and St Michael’s in the county series.
It meant they were unlikely to lack self-belief, despite again being cast as rank outsiders heading into the showpiece.
It proved to be a bridge too far for the South-West standard-bearers, whose determined bid to achieve another historic triumph in 2019 fell short by some distance.
Not even the 11-point gap between the sides at the finish is a fair reflection of Kilshannig’s superiority on a day when they accumulated 12 wides, nine more than the losers.
As well as that, the St James’ rearguard led something of a charmed existence in the second half as Kilshannig failed to make the most of three clear-cut chances to embellish their victory with a goal.
St James’ selector Kieran Callanan accepted they came up against a much better team, although he insisted they performed most creditably in defeat.
‘I thought our lads were absolutely brilliant, and we’re really proud of each and every one of them today,’ he said, pointing out that St James were well in contention at half time.
‘While we were four points down, we felt there was more in us, especially after we brought it back to three shortly after the break, but then Kilshannig got a bit of a run going, scored three unanswered points, and they just pushed on from there.
‘To be honest, I don’t think we could have done anymore against such a superior side, so, while we’re disappointed, the result doesn’t diminish these lads’ achievements in what has been a massive year for the club.’
St James led for the only time after Kevin O’Brien opened the scoring in the fifth minute, but Kilshannig soon underlined their potential, responding with a hat-trick of points in little over a minute.
That did little to dampen St James’ resolve, and, despite James O’Sullivan having a goal attempt foiled by Kilshannig goalkeeper Colm O’Dea at the expense of a 45, they were back on terms after Mark Evans and Aidan O’Shea shared a brace of points inside 12 minutes.
O’Shea and Frank Hayes made their presence felt in the corner forward berths as the first half progressed, while Aaron Hayes also did his bit to put pressure on a Kilshannig defence that wasn’t exactly air-tight before the break.
So too did James O’Driscoll with some probing runs from midfield where Kevin O’Brien also had his moments following a switch from wing-forward in the 12th minute. O’Brien’s redeployment was obviously designed to curtail the impact made by the Kilshannig pairing of Eanna O’Hanlon and Cork senior Killian O’Hanlon, both of whom were quick to settle for the winners.
It didn’t have the desired effect, however, with Killian O’Hanlon’s influence becoming increasingly pronounced towards the end of the first half.
The signs were ominous for St James after Kilshannig regained the lead, courtesy of a point from excellent corner forward Conor McMahon, entering the second quarter, stretching it to four, 0-7 to 0-3, by the 18th minute.
As things transpired, St James never managed to get back on terms, but, aided by points from Alan O’Shea, Frank Hayes and wing-back Michael D McCarthy, they were still in touch trailing by 0-11 to 0-7 at the interval.
It was noticeable at the same time that Kilshannig looked more convincing when in full flight and had found scores and openings a bit easier to come by than St James in an exhilarating first half.
After Paul O’Sullivan – fed by Kevin O’Leary, who had a fine second half at centre-back – drew first blood for St James on the turnover, Kilshannig turned on the style in earnest, with the result that the deal was done and dusted long before the finish.
That St James added just three points to their tally, through Frank Hayes, Alan O’Shea, from a free, and substitute Sean O’Reilly, tells its own story, mirroring the dominance Kilshannig enjoyed in all sectors during the last 25 minutes.
Kilshannig: C McMahon 0-6; K Twomey 0-5 (3f); K O’Hanlon 0-4; E O’Hanlon 0-3; E O’Sullivan, B Guerin, J Twomey, C O’Shea 0-1 each
St James: A O’Shea 0-4 (2f); F Hayes 0-2; K O’Brien, M Evans, Michael D McCarthy, P O’Sullivan, S O’Reilly 0-1 each.
Kilshannig: C O’Dea; R O’Mahony, E Burke, C Murphy; B Curtin, B Guerin, C O’Shea; K O’Hanlon, E O’Hanlon; K Twomey, J Twomey, E O’Sullivan; J Kearney, D Twomey, C McMahon.
Subs: B O’Shea for Kearney (38), F McCarthy for O’Sullivan (58), K Flynn for Murphy (59), C Casey for O’Mahony (59), J O’Hanlon for D Twomey (61), G Creedon for O’Dea .
St James: D O’Donovan; Michael B McCarthy, E Feen, D Hayes; J O’Sullivan, K O’Leary, Michael D McCarthy; P O’Sullivan, J O’Driscoll; K O’Brien, A Hayes, M Evans; F Hayes, J O’Sullivan, A O’Shea.
Subs: S O’Reilly for Evans (41), C Hayes for P O’Sullivan (50), K O’Donovan for O’Brien (54), T Nyhan for D Hayes (54).
Referee: A O’Connor (Ballygarvan).