A strange evening in Páirc Uí Rinn, with a Cork intermediate hurling final that never caught fire — despite one side winning three penalties.
Winners Blackrock were the better side over the hour, with a match-winner in Eoin O’Farrell, but losers Cloughduv will rue the two penalties they missed when the game was up for grabs. They only beat excellent Blackrock keeper Daniel O’Mahony with the last puck of the game.
Rockies manager Olan Murray was understandably delighted with the club’s second team collecting a county title.
“We have high playing numbers, people might look at us with that many players and be critical, but there’s no point in having a lot of players if you don’t have a focus.
“At the start of the year we had a plan based around the seniors and intermediates both doing well. Unfortunately, it didn’t go that way for us but it’s about building, keeping our focus, and picking fellas based on form as best we can.”
Brian Verling opened the scoring for Cloughduv but Eoin O’Farrell soon stamped his authority on the game with five points in a row from placed balls, helping Blackrock to a 0-5 to 0-2 lead by the 20th minute.
Neither side were consistent in their shooting, with Cloughduv particularly wasteful, but with Verling finding his range from frees and a good Joe Ryan effort they trailed Blackrock by one in first-half injury time.
Ryan then won a penalty which Verling took, but it whistled just wide: 0-6 to 0-5 at the break. O’Farrell pointed on the resumption but Cloughduv were better in the third quarter, with Verling finding his range. The mid-Cork men even nudged ahead before O’Farrell (free) equalised soon after.
Diarmuid Cormack and O’Farrell (two) pushed Blackrock three ahead, 0-11 to 0-8 before Daniel O’Mahony saved well from Mark Verling on 48 minutes. Cloughduv won a second penalty in the ensuing scramble but O’Mahony saved Brian Verling’s shot.
Energised, Blackrock pushed five ahead before Cloughduv won that third penalty deep in injury time: Brian Verling buried it with the last puck of the game.
“We need to give huge credit to our goalkeeper Dan (O’Mahony) and our coaches,” said Murray.
“And we got the rub of the green to a certain extent as well, that first penalty just shaved the post and went wide — the right side for us and the wrong side for Cloughduv.
“Finals can be games that don’t flow, can’t they? It’s the side that really wants to win and which is going to do anything to win it. It was a stop-start game but finals are there to be won.”
Blackrock can now play in the new premier intermediate grade, and Murray said it was “great to be in that position” facing into 2020.
“We’ll think about that in a couple of weeks’ time — for us it’s about building for the senior team and if your next 15-30 players are at a high level like that you’d be hopeful of driving on.
“I feel very sorry for Cloughduv,” added Murray. “They tasted success last year and came up just short today.
“It’s very sore. Hurling is a sport where you’ve a short turnaround, we’ll be back out in January and so will Cloughduv. You always do your best to get back and put it right again straightaway.”
Scorers for Blackrock: E. O’Farrell (0-10)(6 frees, 1 65); D. Cormack, M O’Keeffe, C. O’Leary, D. Cashman, O. Kelleher (0-1 each).
Scorers for Cloughduv: B. Verling (0-8)(6 frees); M. Verling (1-0)(pen); S. O’Connor, J. Ryan (0-1 each).
D. O’Mahony, J. Golden, A. Hogan, R. Coleman, C. O’Brien, E. Smith, R. Cantwell, D. Cormack, M. O’Farrell, E. O’Farrell, I. O’Keeffe, M. O’Keeffe, O. Kelleher, C. O’Leary, L. O’Sullivan.
Subs: R. Cotter for O. Kelleher (42); B. Cain for L. O’Sullivan (52); O Kelleher for I. O’Keeffe and D. Cashman for O’Leary (60).
J. Buckley, D. O’Sullivan, B. Ahern, P. Buckley, J. Moynihan, D. O’Leary, E. Clifford, M. Walsh, L. Kelleher, A. Murphy, S. O’Connor, J. Ryan, D. Corkery, M. Verling (c), B. Verling.
Subs: K. Barry-Murphy for Corkery (42); A. Twomey for D. O’Sullivan (45); G. Ahern for M. Walsh (53); K. Walsh for S. O’Connor (60).
Referee: E. McCarthy (Bandon).