Gritty Grenagh singing in the rain

Grenagh 1-10 Kilbrin 2-5
Grenagh overcame shocking conditions in Páirc Uí Rinn yesterday to claim the John Quirke Cup following their two-point win over maiden finalists Kilbrin in the Cork County junior hurling championship decider.

It was a first title for the mid Cork side after suffering defeat in the 2004 showpiece.

Unfortunately, because of the constant rain, this was never going to be a classic.

Indeed, as early as the third minute, a low shot from out the wing by Dean Dalton squirmed past Paudie O’Callaghan in the Kilbrin goal. It would be impossible to blame the keeper as the patch he was patrolling was something of a mudbath and the sliothar was almost impossible to control.

For Grenagh, it was a tonic start which put them into a lead they did not relent for the hour. However, the goal, even if a little fortuitous, cannot take away from what was ultimately a thoroughly solid Grenagh performance. They held the advantage throughout, they led by five points at the break, and Kilbrin — who never came alive – only managed their second goal in the last minute.

Cork teammates Tom Kenny and William Egan were marking each other on the forty and a couple of points from Kenny and Sean Bourke helped Grenagh to a 1-2 to 0-1 lead by the 10th minute. Shane Crowley reduced the gap for Kilbrin with a pointed free but it was become increasingly difficult for the sides to master the conditions with the ball getting stuck amidst various goalmouth melees.

Patrick Egan clipped over a 24th minute point for Kilbrin (1-3 to 0-3) but Ultan Duggan and Tom Kenny (free) hit crucial scores to edge Grenagh into a 1-5 to 0-3 interval lead. Incidentally, Grenagh also made two substitutions just before the changeover bringing in John Russell and Tadgh Walsh.

Colm O’Neill set Grenagh on their way with the opening score of the second-half and he along with DD Dorgan and Raymond Dorgan were central to this success.

Kilbrin were thrown a lifeline when Stephen O’Reilly latched onto a Shane Crowley delivery to rifle to the net. That goal left three between them (1-6 to 1-3) with 40 minutes elapsed. Strangely the goal failed to ignite Kilbrin and with O’Neill, Duggan and Kenny landing a string of points Grenagh were 1-9 to 1-4 clear with five minutes remaining.

William Egan reduced the margin with a fine individual point but the score of the game arrived immediately after when O’Neill sliced a majestic line ball over the bar. Grenagh were ahead by five again as one minute of added time was announced. With the last act of the match Kilbrin did get a goal back from Noel O’Callaghan but Grenagh couldn’t be outdone on a historic afternoon for all involved.

Scorers for Grenagh: T Kenny (0-4, three frees), D Dalton (1-0), C O’Neill (0-3, 1sl), U Duggan (0-2), S Bourke (0-1).

Scorers for Kilbrin: S O’Reilly and N O’Callaghan (1-0 each), S Crowley (0-2 frees), W Egan, P Egan and E Sheahan (0-1 each).

GRENAGH: M Kenny; P McCarthy, R Dorgan, K O’Neill; DD Dorgan, G Russell, K Cummins; N Doherty, C O’Neill; D Dalton, T Kenny, C Fitzgerald; U Duggan, S Coleman (Capt), S Bourke.

Subs: J Russell for S Coleman (30+2), T Walsh for C Fitzgerald (30+2), L Walsh for T Walsh (bs 50-52), M Barry for S Bourke (54), S Coleman for J Russell (55).

KILBRIN: P O’Callaghan; P Aherne, D Sheahan, T O’Riordan; M O’Riordan, W Egan, T Cantillon; P Egan, K Sheahan (Capt); G Lenihan, T O’Reilly, S Crowley; S O’Reilly, N Cronin, E Sheahan.

Subs: N O’Callaghan for N Cronin (35), D O’Sullivan for T Cantillon (44).

Referee: Cathal McAllister (Aghada).

The key moment

The Grenagh goal from Dean Dalton after just three minutes set his side on their way and they never relinquished their lead.

Pub talk

The weather conditions. Hindsight is wonderful, but maybe at this time of the year the hurling should be played before the football on a doubleheader programme.

Haven’t seen that before

The scoreboard took on a life of its own at one stage in the second half when Kilbrin trailed by 1-3 to 1-7. Yet the board read Kilbrin 1-99 Grenagh 1-7.

The main man

A few contenders. DD Dorgan, Dean Dalton, Raymond Dorgan, Ultan Duggan but midfielder Colm O’Neill’s three points were crucial. His third from a side-line cut in difficult conditions was particularly eye-catching.

The man in black

On a difficult day for referee and players alike, Cathal McAllister didn’t miss anything and kept excellent control.

What’s next?

Munster club championship quarter-final for Grenagh against Ballysaggart (Waterford) next Sunday at a Waterford venue. Grenagh also have the intermediate football championship to look forward to.

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