Páirc strife as brave Rossa hurlers denied at the death in county final
White’s Cross 0-12
O’Donovan Rossa 0-11
Noel Horgan Reports
SO near and yet so far.
That’s how it was for O’Donovan Rossa at Páirc Uí Rinn where they finished a point adrift of White’s Cross in the county junior B hurling final.
What made the defeat especially hard to take was that the Skibbereen men looked to have the title within their grasp when they led by three points with eight minutes of regulation time remaining.
Not an insurmountable advantage on the face of it, but, given that scores had been at a premium hitherto, it seemed as if White’s Cross would be hard-pressed to make up the leeway, and that O’Donovan Rossa were bound to prevail providing they didn’t concede a goal in the closing stages.
As things transpired, however, gutsy White’s Cross knocked over four unanswered points on the run-in, the last of which came courtesy of ace free-taker Conor Buckley in the fifth minute of stoppage time.
Selector Ian Breen admitted he thought O’Donovan Rossa were firmly on course for victory after evergreen corner forward Rob Long pointed to push them 0-11 to 0-8 ahead in the 48th minute.
‘It looked a decisive lead the way the game was going, and that’s why we made a couple of substitutions near the end, hoping that the fresh legs would ensure we’d get over the line,’ he said afterwards.
‘It was shockingly disappointing to be pipped in the last minute, and the big regret I’d have is that we gave away a few easy frees for what I’d describe as slightly technical fouls, which cost us dearly.
‘There’s other competitions we’re still involved in, and I’m in no doubt we’ll learn from that, but I can have no complaint about that happened tonight otherwise, because the lads gave it everything they had,’ Breen remarked.
‘I told them before the game it’s the manner in which you play that’s most important, and, while the result didn’t go our way this time, we died with our boots on big-time,’ he stressed.
It was a remarkable match in that the teams were never separated by more than a point until the 43rd minute, and that O’Donovan Rossa’s entire first-half tally came from placed balls.
Veteran goalkeeper Alan Foley (5) and Kevin Crowley (2) were the South-West side’s only marksmen before the break when Conor Buckley picked off six scores, three from play, for White’s Cross, with midfielder Donnacha Murnane also getting on the scoresheet as the protagonists shared 14 points.
The tit-for-tat nature of the struggle continued on the resumption, with Kevin Crowley and Conor Buckley exchanging points from frees before Alan Foley nudged O’Donovan Rossa in front with another converted long-range free in the 41st minute.
Defences had generally held sway up to that point, with Dan Kingston a stand-out performer at the heart of an O’Donovan Rossa rearguard in which Niall McCarthy, Conor Crowley and Conor Long were also especially defiant.
Elsewhere, however, the Skibb men were by no means convincing, particularly up front where they struggled to make headway until Michael O’Donovan was sprung from the bench in the 41st minute.
Latching on to an Alan Foley free, O’Donovan got his name on the scoresheet two minutes later, and he was soon seen to good effect again when doing the spadework for Rob Long’s point in the 48th minute.
Long had been out of luck at the three-quarter mark after his connection on another booming Alan Foley free flashed outside the posts.
O’Donovan Rossa’s prospects would have taken on a very rosy hue had they bagged a goal at that juncture.
As it was, it seemed as if White’s Cross, having gone toe-to-toe with the Rossas for the best part of 40 minutes, had become the first to blink after coughing up three points on the trot, but Conor Buckley arrested their slide when slotting over a ‘65 in the 52nd minute.
It turned out to be the game’s turning point, prompting White’s Cross, whose leading lights overall were Conor Buckley, Murt Kelleher, Donnacha Murnane, John O’Connell and James Cooney, to raise their performance when the crunch came.
The result was they tacked on three more points without reply from O’Donovan Rossa, two of which came from Buckley frees at either side of a good score from play by seasoned stalwart Murt Kelleher, who had been switched from centre-back to full-forward in a bid to boost their ailing attack near the end.
White’s Cross: C Buckley 0-10 (6f, 1’65), D Murnane, M Kelleher 0-1 each.
O’Donovan Rossa: A Foley 0-6f, K Crowley 0-3f, M O’Donovan and R Long 0-1 each.
White’s Cross: S Cahill; P Murnane, J O’Connell, D O’Connor; B Murnane, M Kelleher, J Cooney; D Murnane, R McElhinney; R Sherlock, E Murnane, C Buckley; E Buckley, K Buckley, S Murnane.
Subs: C O’Flynn for Sherlock (47), F O’Connell for S Murnane (54), F Reid for E Buckley (56).
O’Donovan Rossa: A Foley; N McCarthy, C Crowley, S Crowley Snr; S Carthy, D Kingston, C Long; M O’Driscoll, F Crowley; S Cotter, K Cotter, J O’Driscoll; R Long, K Crowley, D Breen.
Subs: P Crowley for Breen (ht), H Leonard for Carthy (ht), M O’Donovan for K Crowley (41), A Keane for S Cotter (41), D Lynch for S Crowley Snr (55), D O’Regan for K Cotter (59).
Referee: N O’Neill (Midleton),