The manner in which he achieved it may not unduly concern John O’Rourke, but he certainly chose a tortuous route in claiming his second county championship at a rain soaked Ballinagree on Saturday last.
For Edmund Sexton, a senior of long-standing, this 2020 intermediate final was surely one that got away. Conditions were terrible and, with the ubiquitous umbrella a necessity, it was a difficult day for players and supporters.
However, all that does not fully excuse the mediocrity of so much of the fare delivered up at the north Cork venue. A local derby too, it carried a €9,400 total stake with both fancied on the back of some good wins.
They started in reasonable fashion, O’Rourke ahead by fifty after two only to lose his lead with a poor third. Sexton’s ascendancy was short lived as he missed sight at ‘Murphy’s’ with his fourth, an error that cost him dearly as he fell a bowl and sixty down in the ensuing exchanges. A good sixth by Sexton knocked the margin to an even bowl by ‘an capalin ban’.
What followed over the next dozen exchanges was a catalogue of missed chances both for O’Rourke to extend his lead and for Sexton to level it. The Nadd man eventually did even it up with a good cast to the ‘quay wall’ and when he led for the second time after fifteen the omens were good for him. In a drama filled closing sequence O’Rourke led again but missed another chance of sealing it.
Sexton, now in front with two to go playing into the village, had it at his mercy but once more a gilt-edged opportunity went a begging. When he missed the line with his next it was Rylane’s John O’Rourke with his twenty-second throw of the score who finally won it with a strong break off the roadside wall.
Michael Brennan presented the new champion with the Cade Cup. Mark Toal will present a different challenge for O’Rourke when they meet at Newtownhamilton for the All-Ireland crown in two weeks’ time.