Final glory for Mitchelstown

Mitchelstown 0-12 St Colums 2-4
A pair of injury-time points from James Sheehan and Dave Dineen were the difference as Mitchelstown won a first Cork County JAFC title in 52 years at Páirc Ui Rinn yesterday.

With the sides level after Denis McSweeney had pointed from a free for St Colums in the 55th minute, tension reigned as both sides realised the game was there for the taking.

Ultimately Mitchelstown’s greater scoring power won out.

Sheehan and the two Shanes, Beston and Cahill, combined for 10 of the North Cork side’s points, whereas Colums only had McSweeney on the scoresheet more than once, with goals keeping them in contention. Not that that meant they did not deserve to win, of course — they battled incredibly hard and never fell away, despite Mitchelstown having some very good spells — but the Carbery champions had chances to win and didn’t take them.

In contrast, Mitchelstown, having suffered the agony of defeat to Kanturk at the same stage two years ago, used that experience to good effect as panic never seeped into their play. Beston and Cahill were excellent for Mitchelstown, producing some lovely link-up play.

A stand-out moment came in the 37th minute, after the brilliant Alan O’Connor had tied the game at 0-7 to 2-1 with a second goal for Colums. When Dineen found Cahill with a good ball from deep, he held possession until Beston, following a lung-bursting run, was in passing range, allowing him an easy score.

When Beston followed that with a wonderful free from the left, the effect of the goal had almost been diminished but Colums once again came back and sub Seán O’Shea and McSweeney had the game tied again. But that was the nature of it, Mitchelstown forging ahead only for Colums to produce a weighty riposte each time.

The West Cork team actually had most of the early pressure but the only time they led in the whole game was after Tony Harrington’s 11th-minute goal. While Cahill had put Mitchelstown ahead with their first attack, when McSweeney’s free at the other end dropped short, it was not dealt with by the defence and Harrington poked the loose ball home.

They would only manage one other score in the half — a free from McSweeney in injury time — but the poor conditions (and perhaps confusion due to the teams’ similar colours) meant that that was sufficient to only trail by a point, 0-5 to 1-1, at half-time.

Dineen was good in midfield for Mitchelstown, and Michael Walsh scored a nice point before Cahill and Beston eased them clear. Had Colums goalkeeper Micheál Cronin not saved from Cahill in the midst of that good run, then it might have been less of a contest, but it was all to play at the turnaround.

Beston, from Cahill’s lay-off, and Cahill, after good work by Owen Burke, opened up the game’s biggest lead of 0-7 to 1-1 within two minutes of the restart, but Colums were not for lying down.

After working the ball into the danger area, they were rewarded when O’Connor took Stephen Casey’s pass to fire home, and while Mitchelstown responded, they could not shake off their opponents.

Ultimately, though, it was to be Mitchelstown’s day. When they won a free out by the right sideline, publican Sheehan did wonders for his pub’s trade this week as he nailed the kick, and then Dineen profited from a breaking ball in the third minute of injury time. For once, Colums had no answer.

Scorers for Mitchelstown: S Beston 0-4 (one free), J Sheehan (frees), S Cahill 0-3 each, M Walsh, D Dineen 0-1 each.

Scorers for St Colums: A O’Connor, T Harrington 1-0 each, D McSweeney 0-3 (one free), S O’Shea 0-1.

MITCHELSTOWN: L Hannah; F Herlihy, S Fox, M Maher; O Burke, P Molloy, S Coughlan; L Flynn, D Dineen; J Sheehan, M Walsh, J Cott; J Finn, S Beston, S Cahill.

Subs: A O’Brien for J Finn (45), J O’Sullivan for Cott (60).

ST COLUMS: M Cronin; S Harrington, D O’Mahony, D McSweeney; B Murphy, S McSweeney, M Casey; A O’Connor, D Cronin; JP O’Sullivan, S Casey, T Harrington; E O’Sullivan, S Cronin, D McSweeney.

Subs: S O’Shea for E O’Sullivan (38), G McCarthy for JP O’Sullivan (52), M Hurley for S Casey (60).

Referee: D O’Leary (Kiskeam).

Colour clash confusion

The possibility of a colour-clash occurring between the strips was one that had been foreseen by Cork GAA chiefs before yesterday’s game, but the problem proved greater than had been envisaged.

Mitchelstown were in red with a horizontal black stripe and shorts while Colums lined out in a dark shade of orange and also had black shorts.

Consultation beforehand had ended with all parties feeling there would not be an issue. The rain and falling darkness exacerbated the situation, according to Cork County Board administrator Diarmuid O’Donovan.

“It wasn’t the case that nobody had thought of this,” he said, “there had been a lot of contact during the week.

“Both clubs had seen each other play and felt that it wouldn’t cause a problem and the referee had seen pictures too and was of the same opinion. The conditions led to greater confusion, maybe in hindsight we should have tossed a coin for one team to wear white shorts.”

The key moment

James Sheehan’s excellent free from the left to put Mitchelstown a point ahead in injury time was crucial.

Pub talk

The old adage is that you must lose a final before you can win one. Beforehand, the question was whether the memories of 2011 would inspire or cripple Mitchelstown.

Haven’t seen that before

Seán O’Shea, who came on for Colums and almost immediately scored a fine point, wore number 16. Rare nowadays to see that on an outfield sub rather than a goalkeeper.

The main man Shane Cahill led the Mitchelstown line to great effect, dovetailing well with Shane Beston while Dave Dineen was good in midfield. Alan O’Connor stood out for the losers.

The man in black

While the failure to make either side change jerseys made it a difficult spectacle for fans, Denis O’Learyhandled the game very well.

What’s next?

Mitchelstown don’t have too much time for celebrating as they play Munster championship next week. Colums can look back on a season that will be regarded as a success.

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