THE Cormac O’Sullivan Cup is returning to Urhan after a three-year hiatus following victory over Garnish in Sunday’s Beara JAFC final at a sun-kissed Adrigole.
Always a special day in the Beara GAA calendar, the rural division delivered another cracking football decider in which Urhan denied their opponents a fourth consecutive title.
There was little to choose between the sides at the conclusion of an opening half in which Urhan led by a point. Sweltering heat made playing conditions difficult, but a superb playing surface allowed both sides produce spells of dominance albeit in a final blighted by some awful shooting (Urhan finished with 13 wides, Garnish with nine).
Garnish’s third-quarter comeback was halted by a superb Martin McCarthy goal but the defending champions refused to go away. Fintan O’Sullivan thundered a marvellous shot into the roof of the net to draw Garnish level heading into the final minutes where Urhan added a point prior to Conor Lowney punching the ball into the net.
An emotional victory for Urhan on the back of their recent Carbery/Beara junior league final success was celebrated by their supporters at the final whistle.
Other Urhan fans dotted all over the globe were able to keep tabs on their team’s progress via Beara Island Community Radio’s live broadcast of the game over the internet.
‘Where do I start? This victory means everything, everything to Urhan GAA,’ a delighted Johnny O’Neill told The Southern Star.
‘This is what we have been building for over the last couple of years. It was a battle out there again today and fair play to Garnish, they never die. Even with all the injuries they had, they still came out here today gave it everything.
‘Our goals were crucial, and we got them at the right time. We made mistakes (in last year’s final) but we think we corrected them this year.’
Urhan got off to a positive start with Jamie O’Neill and Conor Harrington splitting the posts. Erratic shooting allowed Garnish time to settle and the champions bared their claws by reeling off three unanswered points courtesy of Brian Terry O’Sullivan (two) and Sean Terry O’Sullivan.
It was 0-3 apiece after ten minutes following man-of-the-match Martin McCarthy’s first score for Urhan and the same player took advantage of collecting a quick free to float over another point shortly after.
Brian Terry O’Sullivan was Garnish’s stand-out performer and levelled the score for fourth time before Martin McCarthy was fouled and Jamie O’Neill converted the resulting free.
Urhan’s Conor Harrington broke clear after 23 minutes but his goal-bound shot was tipped over by Ross Murphy. Garnish wasted a half-chance a minute later but a Fintan O’Sullivan point moved his side to within a point, 0-6 to 0-5, of their opponents at the end of the opening half.
Garnish re-emerged a determined team at the beginning of the second period with two Sean Terry O’Sullivan (one free) scores and a Fintan O’Sullivan point making it 0-8 to 0-6 in the defending champions’ favour.
Urhan’s woes in front of goal continued but Conor Lowney’s introduction breathed life into their forward line as Jamie O’Neill converted a free to leave the bare minimum between the sides. Then, a flowing Urhan move ended with David McCarthy teeing up Martin McCarthy for a goal to edge Urhan 1-7 to 0-8 in front heading into the closing stages.
The teams exchanged scores prior to Garnish launching a similar flowing move that concluded with Fintan O’Sullivan thundering the ball into the roof of the net. It was now 1-9 to 1-9 and all to play for.
Crucially, Urhan gained possession from the ensuing kick-out and patiently worked the ball to Jamie O’Neill for a point.
Garnish flooded forward in search of an equaliser that would take the final to a replay but it would be Urhan who would have the final say.
A move than spanned the length of the Adrigole pitch ended with Conor Lowney rising highest to punch the ball into the net and confirm Urhan as Beara JAFC champions for the first time in four years.
Urhan: Martin McCarthy 1-3; Conor Lowney 1-1; Jamie O’Neill 0-4 (2f); Conor Harrington 0-2.
Garnish: Fintan O’Sullivan 1-2; Sean Terry O’Sullivan (1f, 1 45), Brian Terry O’Sullivan 0-3 each; Jerome O’Dwyer 0-1.
Urhan: Ger Dunne; Daniel Elphick, Aidan O’Neill (captain), Danny O’Neill; David McCarthy, Michael O’Shea, Brian Healy; Ciarán O’Sullivan, David McCarthy; Luke O’Sullivan, Jamie O’Neill, Cillian O’Shea; Conor Harrington, Martin McCarthy, Joe Sheehan. Subs: Conor Lowney for C Harrington (35, inj), Dan O’Dwyer for L O’Sullivan (53), Conor Harrington for C O’Shea (59).
Garnish: Ross Murphy; Eanna Murphy, Brian Walsh, Matthew O’Leary; Darragh Henshaw, Hugh O’Sullivan, David O’Sullivan; Jerome O’Dwyer, Brian Terry O’Sullivan; Gary O’Sullivan, Cormac O’Neill, Dean Henshaw; Fintan O’Sullivan, Sean Terry O’Sullivan (captain), Sean Henshaw. Subs: Oliver O’Sullivan for J O’Dwyer (ht), Paul Murphy for G O’Sullivan (38), Jamie O’Driscoll for M O’Leary (44), Eric O’Neill for B Walsh (59).
Referee: Alan Long (Argideen Rangers).