CPC through to semi-finals

Danske Bank Foresters Cup

CPC 4-17 St Louis 1-13

Cross & Passion College Ballycastle qualified for the knock out stages of the Foresters Cup when they made it two wins out of two by beating St Louis Ballymena in Monday’s round robin game at Cushendun. Having already won their opening game it means CPC are trough the semi-finals of the competition.

In the early stages CPC appeared to be in control and with early points from Ronan Fitzgerald, Darragh Donnelly and a goal from Aidan Richmond they appeared to be running away with the game. However St Louis began to find their range and boosted by a goal from corner forward McCollum that fought back to trail by just a goal at the break. (2-7 to 1-7)

CPC took control early in the second half and added eight points without reply, Ronan Fitzpatrick catching the eye with a series of excellent scores. It was midway through the second half before St Louis got on the scoreboard, but a Darragh Donnelly goal on 49 minutes brought any thoughts of a comeback to a grinding halt and the Ballycastle school pushed on to win in the end by 4-17 to 1-13

cross & passion

A Mullan, C McMullan, A McGarry, C Johnston, C Kane, L Glackin, A Kelly, R Fitzgerald, N McLean, C Donnelly, D Donnelly, O Connoll, A Richmond, C McGarry, O McCallin

ST LOUIS

S Douthart, R McClements, S Og Blaney, G McFadden, S McDermot, L McFerran, J McKeever, R O’Boyle, E Smyth, C Cunning, P Martin, K McFerran, C McCollum, C Smyth,, F Bradley

Referee – Owen Elliott (All Saints)

Fennelly: “it could really have gone either way”

Brendan McTaggart speaks with Colin Fennelly after his Ballyhale side won a ninth All Ireland crown on Sunday

At the age of 33 years young, Colin Fennelly has a list of hurling honours that is the envy of the hurling world.  Along with four All-Ireland county medals and two All-Stars, Fennelly has now won six Club All Ireland’s.  Incredible numbers with both he and TJ Reid at the top of the list when it comes to Tom Moore Cup medals.

He celebrated Sunday’s win like it was his first.  A mix of elation tinged with more than a hint of relief as he told us after the game: “It was tight throughout.  They play a different brand of hurling and we couldn’t get our head around it.  They brought it to us and we just had that bit more experience at the end but it could really have gone either way.

“If they had popped over a few it could have put us down but lucky enough a few of our sharpshooter came out and got the scores.”

The Cuchullains made the dream start to Sunday’s final with Ronan Molloy’s early goal giving them an early lead.  The Ballyhale stalwart said they are used to facing such scenarios: “It was the worse start but we’ve been in that position so many times over the years and you just deal with it.  It’s all about getting that next score and thats what we did.

Ronan Molloy’s goal got Dunloy off to a great start

It was a sucker punch but you get back up and you do not put the head down at any stage.  It doesn’t matter if the goal comes in the first minute of the last, you just keep on going.”

In a game where both sides struggled for any fluency, neither looked nervous.  The touch and basics were gone from both sides and the Croke Park surface was the overriding factor when looking for causes.  Described as being in the worse condition many pundits had witnessed, on closer inspection the pitch had been sprayed green to mask the amount of sand that had been laid.  Fennelly said it certainly made life difficult for players and officials: “It was difficult but given the time of year and weather there’s been of late, it can almost be forgiven but it was hugely difficult out there.  The ground was dead, some ball was touched on the ground and it made it hard for the referee.  Typically any other game, you get that bounce.  It was awful but look overall it’s always great to play in Croke Park.”

The Ballyhale club now sit on top of the Club pyramid.  Nine times champions, 20 Kilkenny titles and in just their 50th year.  It’s incredible numbers for the Shamrocks as they reaffirmed their aristocratic and legendary status.  Despite having been around the block and won everything there is to offer, Fennelly said that he and his side are never likely to take these victories for granted.  “It’s a very special time for the club,” he continued: “on Friday night past there, something we didn’t know about, there was a video made of every single family around the parish for every single player.  It was absolutely amazing to see the effort that everyone put in and we sat there for 15 or 20 minutes just taking it all in.  There was clips from all around the world, it was a special moment to see that despite everything we’ve been through and everything we’ve won, that drive is still there in not alone the supporters but the players as well.

“We’re hoping to get away for a few days but you need to remember these occasions.  You have to stay together and it’s a really special time for this club.”

O’Kane: “They came here today against a club like Ballyhale and gave it everything they had”

Brendan McTaggart speaks with Dunloy manager Gregory O’Kane after the Cuchullains were defeated in the All Ireland Club hurling final…

As Ballyhale Captain Ronan Corcoran stood at the top of the steps of the Hogan Stand waiting to receive the Tom Moore Cup from GAA President, Larry McCarthy, Gregroy O’Kane stood on the battered Croke Park surface with a steely stare in his gaze.

A penny for the thoughts running through the Dunloy managers mind at that point as he stood with his son and daughter, Paidi and Ailbe either side.

O’Kane brought the Cuchullains to the brink.  Not many outside of the club gave his side a prayer against the hurling aristocrats from Kilkenny but Dunloy pushed the Shamrocks all the way.  The final score certainly not reflecting the efforts that O’Kane’s men put into the hour that preceded.

It’s often difficult to try and summarise a contest so soon after the final whistle with emotions still running high but O’Kane told us that he felt the game hinged on small margins throughout the game: “We were well in the game.

“We shouldn’t have been two points down at half time.  We made a few mistakes and we didn’t execute as well as we normally do.  We got it back to a point in the second half and it was game on.  We scuffed a few chances and dropped a few into the ‘keepers hand.  We just couldn’t break the line and it’s something that we’re normally really, really good at.”

Ballyhale stretched into a four point lead with three scores in just two minutes from the 52nd minute.  It seemed to knock the energy out of the Dunloy challenge that looked well placed going into the final stretch.  The Shamrocks were ruthless in the closing stages however and as O’Kane continued, he paid tribute to the Kilkenny men: “They’re a super team and their game management in injury time was excellent.

“They made a few turnovers and it was extremely small margins.  It looked like we had them and about to break the line and we were in but look I couldn’t be more proud of the team.  They came here today against a club like Ballyhale and gave it everything they had but we feel like we didn’t kick on.  The game was there for us.”

Gregory with Aibhe and Paidi after the game

At the fifth time of asking, the Cuchullains fell short.  An agonising defeat in a game where they gave everything they had.  O’Kane said his players are feeling that hurt and are thinking on ‘what might have been’ already: “When you get that close and we wanted to take them down the home stretch, the players will feel themselves that they’ve left it behind.  They know themselves but I’m extremely proud of how they played today.”

As his players walked off the Croke Park pitch on Sunday afternoon, the Dunloy support rose to their feet.  They knew they had witnessed a huge performance from their side and the Cuchullains manager said that he and his players are thankful for the support they have received every step of the championship journey he and his side have been on: “You look at the stands out there today, what a support we had.  The families, grandparents and children.  That’s what it’s all about and the journey they’ve been on all year.  It’s been fantastic for them.”

Dunloy’s Dream Ended by Super Shamrocks

AIB All Ireland Club Hurling Final

Dunloy Cuchullains 1-15 Ballyhale Shamrocks 1-22

Sunday 22 January

Brendan McTaggart reports from Croke Park, Dublin

With less than eight minutes remaining in Croke Park, Dunloy dared to dream.  They were more than a match for their illustrious opponents on the biggest day in the club calendar with just one point between the sides.

The dream never materialised.

Ballyhale Shamrocks proved their pedigree in the closing stages to seal a ninth All Ireland Club title.  In a game of fine margins, the Shamrocks experience of the big occasion shone at the death.  Three points from man of the match Eoin Cody followed scores from Paddy Mullen and Killian Corcoran in the space of two minutes.  Dunloy’s hopes of bringing the Big One to the Village slipped through their fingers in the face of sublime hurling from the Kilkenny side.

Dunloy looked to pick apart the Shamrocks with their short, incisive passing, running through the lines but the Shamrocks were strong in the middle third.  Richie Reid dominant at centre half with Evan Shefflin in top form beside him.

The Cuchullains looked to be defying the bookies once again but they never imposed their own game for long enough.  Their moments of brilliance were too fleeting and against a seasoned team the calibre of Ballyhale, they needed everything to go their way. 

For 20 minutes in the second half, they controlled the game with their defence immense.  Restricting the Shamrocks to scores from free’s or 65’s but they never made any headway into the Ballyhale lead.  A number of efforts dropping short shooting into the goals at Hill 16 that when they look back on, the Cuchullain management team will pin point as the pivotal moment in the game with Ballyhale finding another level.

What a start for the Cuchullains as Ronan Molloy scores a brilliant goal in the third minute

The game itself really couldn’t have started any better for Dunloy with Ronan Molloy’s goal coming in the third minute with the Kilkenny men ahead from an early Joey Cuddihy point.  Keelan Molloy picking the sliothar up in midfield and playing a cross field pass in front of Conal Cunning.  Coby spun Joey Holden and passed to Molloy on the run and he finished emphatically to send the large Cuchullains support in Headquarters into dream land.

The Ballyhale response was typical while Dunloy never capitalised on their great start.  The Kilkenny men rattled over the next three scores while Eoin Cody brought the best out of Ryan Elliott with a rasping drive.

The Cuchullains first point of the final came in the 12th minute, Paul Shiels firing over from distance before Oran Quinn split the uprights.  Sprinting through the heart of the Ballyhale defence before raising the white flag.  The Dunloy faithful found their voice once more as they crept ahead only for Ballyhale to score their major with the next attack.

Conal Cunning sends over one of his seven points during the All Ireland final against Ballyhale.

A high ball into the Dunloy full back line was claimed by Colin Fennelly.  He tried to get free from the Dunloy defence and looked to have over carried before laying the sliothat into the path of Eoin Cody and he finished low below the out rushing Ryan Elliott.

It was Dunloy’s time to respond and with Coby (free) and Nicky McKeague, they restored parity to the scoreline once again with 18 minutes of the half played.

Ballyhale turned the screw in the closing stages of the half however.  Three unanswered scores from Eoin Cody (two) and Shefflin were responded to by a solitary free from Coby. 

TJ Reid split the uprights with a free in the 27th minute, moments after Cody tested Ryan Elliott again between the sticks but the Shamrocks half forward took his tally to 1-3 for the half and opened a four point lead for the Kilkenny men.

Dunloy finished the half well with scores from Seaan Elliott and Coby (free) to leave two between the sides at the interval.

The second half was a game of chess with neither side really taking control.  The Shamrocks relied on TJ Reid’s abiliy from placed ball and while Coby was answering with kind for the Cuchullains, they also fired over points from Eamon Smyth and Keelan Molloy to leave the minimum between the sides going into the final quarter.

Shamrocks Darragh Corcoran in action against Dunloy’s Nigel Elliott

TJ Reid’s fourth ’65 of the second half doubled the Ballyhale advantages as the Cuchullains began to make some questionable decisions with ball in hand.  To a certain extent they let the Shamrocks off the hook with a number of wayward passes and efforts dropping short in a five minute period and the Kilkenny men took full advantage.

They rattled over three unanswered scores in the space of two minutes that was as good as scoring a goal and sapped the life out of the Cuchullain challenge.

Fennelly scored his second point of the final with three minutes remaining to put five between the sides but Dunloy rolled the dice one more time.  Shiels and Cunning (free) firing over as the clock ticked into injury time.

Dunloy needed a goal and landed a number of high ball into the edge of the square but they never looked like troubling the Shamrocks.  The Kilkenny men added further scores to put an unbalanced look on the final score with Eoin Cody, captain Ronan Corcoran, substitute Brian Cody and Darragh Corcoran all finding their range to ensure the Tom Moore Cup goes back to Ballyhale for a ninth time in the clubs history.

Dunloy manager Gregory O’Kane comforts his daughter Ailbhe and son Paidi on the Croke Park pictch after the game

TEAMS

Dunloy: Ryan Elliott; Phelim Duffin, Ryan McGarry, Oran Quinn; Eamon Smyth, Kevin Molloy, Conor Ferris; Paul Shiels, Eoin McFerran; Ronan Molloy, Nicky McKeague, Nigel Elliott; Seaan Elliott, Conal Cunning, Keelan Molloy

Subs: Deaglan Smith for N McKeague (45); Chrissy McMahon for N Elliott (54)

Scorers: C Cunning 0-7 (7fs); R Molloy 1-1; P Shiels 0-2; O Quinn 0-1; E Smyth 0-1; N McKeague 0-1; S Elliott 0-1; Keelan Molloy 0-1

Ballyhale: Dean Mason; Killian Corcoran, Joey Holden, Brian Butler; Evan Shefflin, Richie Reid, Darragh Corcoran; Ronan Corcoran, Paddy Mullen; Niall Shortall, TJ Reid, Eoin Cody; Eoin Kineally, Colin Fennelly, Joey Cuddihy

Subs: Brian Cody for N Shortall (51); Darren Mullen for K Corcoran (59)

Scorers: TJ Reid 0-8 (5 ‘65s 2fs); E Cody 1-5; C Fennelly 0-2; K Corcoran 0-1; E Shefflin 0-1; D Corcoran 0-1; R Corcoran 0-1; P Mullen 0-1; E Kenneally 0-1; B Cody 0-1

Referee: Johnny Murphy (Limerick)

Oran Quinn breaks forward from corner back to score one of the points of the game during the first half.

Paddy’s Pics