Cronin strikes late to earn Ita’s another shot at Castlemagner

St Ita’s 0-11 Castlemagner 0-11

A LAST-GASP point from centre back and team captain Michael Cronin saved St Ita’s bacon and snatched victory from Castlemagner in this Evening Echo Cork Co Junior ‘B’ Hurling Championship decider at Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday.

Cronin’s glorious equaliser came three minutes into injury time and proved the last puck of the match.

The teams had been level on six occasions but Castlemagner looked like winning the title for the first time before the St Ita’s skipper gave his side another opportunity to claim the spoils.

Although the closeness of the exchanges held the interest, this was a very low-key final despite its dramatic finale and the level of skill displayed left a lot to be desired.

For instance St Ita’s hit five wides and Castlemagner four before the Duhallow side’s midfielder Sean Falvey opened the scoring with a point at the end of the first quarter.

Earlier Castlemagner had lost the services of full-back Joe Barry and right-corner back James Cott in rapid succession through injury. But, with Patrick Hallihan performing well after being moved back from full forward, the Castlemagner defence kept their opponents’ forward securely under lock and key.

And the story was the same at the other end with the St Ita’s rearguard playing with confidence and authority.

As a result, scores were at a premium. However, after they were level at four points apiece, St Ita’s finally got the some momentum and two points from Richard Cronin and Sean Gleeson, who converted a free, powered the East Cork side into a 0-6 to 0-4 interval lead.

But it was courageous Castlemagner who hit the ground running after the resumption and four points without replay from Falvey, Barry Doyle, substitute Cian O’Sullivan and Daniel O’Callaghan catapulted them into the driving seat.

Castlemagner’s lead was short lived as St Ita’s stormed back with three points of their own — two from Gleeson — to regain the lead entering the closing quarter.

It was nip and tuck now with midfielders Sean Falvey and St Ita’s Ed Coleman converting great long-distance frees.

Falvey’s two pointed frees gave Castlemagner the edge going into injury time but then came Cronin’s golden strike and both sides will have to do it all over again.

Scorers for St. Ita’s: S. Gleeson 0-4 (0-3 from frees); E. Coleman 0-3 (0-1 from 65); S. Supple 0-2; R. Cronin and M. Cronin 0-1 each.

Castlemagner: S. Falvey 0-5 (0-4fs); D. O’Connell, J. Cott, P. Gayer, B. Doyle, D. O’Callaghan and C. O’Sullivan 0-1 each.

ST. ITA’S: P. O’Brien; F. Foley, B. Foley, N. Foley; W. Terry, M. Cronin, M. Daly; E. Coleman, D. Gleeson; B. O’Leary, A. Loughlin, R. Cronin; S. Gleeson, S. Supple, S. Harnedy.

Subs: J. O’Leary for Loughlin; G. McCarthy for S Harnedy.

CASTLEMAGNER:B. Taylor; James Cott, J. Barry, J. Collins; A. Lucey, P. Gayer, K. Cott; D. Gayer, S. Falvey; A. Morrissey, D. O’Connell, D. O’Callaghan; Jack Cott, P. Halligan, B. Doyle.

Subs: J. O’Callaghan for Barry (injured); C. O’Sullivan for James Cott (injured); T. Linehan for O’Sullivan.

Referee: M. Moynihan (Grenagh).