DON’T be fooled by the margin of victory, because much of Saturday’s Munster Club JHC final was a thrilling contest.
At the break in Meelick, there were just two points between the sides, Kilworth leading 2-5 to 1-6 courtesy of two opportunist goals, from corner-forward Paudie Lynch and full-forward Adrian Mannix.
Into the third quarter and it was still a battle, with Knockshegowna making the Cork champions fight for every score, just six points added to Kilworth’s half-time tally.
Significantly, however, now playing into the breeze, the Tipp men could make absolutely no headway against a magnificent Kilworth defence. It was 2-11 to 1-6 by the 45th minute, before Knockshegowna added their sole point of the second half, a pointed free by corner-forward Declan Costello to add to the 1-4 the same man had notched from placed balls in the opening period.
The floodgates opened in the final quarter and two goals from Damien O’Donoghue — the third member of an extremely dangerous Kilworth full-forward unit — added to a succession of points from a variety of marksmen, painted an unfair final picture on what had been a courageous performance by Knockshegowna.
“Full credit to Knockshegowna,” said a gracious Pat Greehy, manager of the new Munster junior champions.
“Their heart and determination was fantastic, in the first-half especially. It wasn’t until the second half that we managed to get away from them, and 4-16 is great shooting.”
That frontal row of Lynch (1-8), Mannix (1-1) and O’Donoghue (2-1) accounted for most of it. They were ably assisted, however, by the trojan work of Thomas Twomey, Brian Tobin and, especially, Joe Cahill outside, while the pairing of Dion Cahill and Elton Pierce dominated midfield. At the back, captain Kieran Walsh’s booming second half puckouts were a major factor in this win, while he got great cover from Alan Kenny, Declan Tobin, who replaced early injury victim John Hegarty, the McNamaras, Damien and Maurice, Mark O’Connor on the wing, with Will Twomey utterly dominant at centre-back.
“The breeze was hugely significant,” added Greehy, “That made the two goals in the first half very important, Mannix’s goal especially — it was a bullet that would lift any team.”
Given the dimensions of the Meelick pitch, that pace was also a significant factor.
“It is a fantastic big pitch and it suited us, especially the young lads — there was space behind them, space in front of them, and in fairness to them they exploited it. It was in absolutely superb condition as well, in fairness to Meelick, there isn’t another club pitch in Ireland would have been as good.”
As for Knockshegowna, who fought the good fight, none more so than centre-forward/midfielder Michael Kennedy, along with outstanding keeper Darren Brown, corner-forward Ray Killeen, the Goherys, Keith and Graham, it was simply a case of being outclassed on the day.
“Kilworth were better at moving the ball, better at finding their men, had that little bit more pace than us,” conceded manager Ger Brennan. “The big pitch suited them as well, made for a more open game. The match being called off last week didn’t suit us. We were all ready for it, then had to try and get ready again. But I’m not using that as an excuse, Kilworth were a far better team in the end. Our lads gave it everything they had, every one of them, and you can’t ask for any more than that. We had a great year, won a North Tipp title and the county title. If we had been offered that at the start of the year we’d have taken it, gladly.”
For Kilworth, a well-earned break before facing into their All-Ireland campaign. Christmas coming up, two marriages also, — it’s going to be a hectic couple of weeks in the little North Cork village.
“Dion Cahill is getting married on Friday and Noel Gowen (introduced as a late sub) is getting married the week after, so this is a great little send-off for those two boys as well,” explained Greehy. “It’s great for the parish as well, a marvellous lift and a great boost. Munster champions, another step towards the All-Ireland, and we’re also an intermediate team from January1 — it’s great and creates a fantastic buzz around the place.”
Scorers: Kilworth: P. Lynch 1-8 (0-4 frees 0-1 65); D. O’Donoghue 2-1; A. Mannix 1-1; B. Tobin 0-2; E. Pierce, T. Twomey, J. Cahill, J. Moakley, 0-1 each. Knockshegowna: D. Costello 1-5 (all frees); M. Kennedy, G. Gohery, 0-1 each.
KILWORTH: K. Walsh (c); A. Kenny, J. Hegarty, D. McNamara; M. McNamara, W. Twomey, M. O’Connor; D. Cahill, E. Pierce; T. Twomey, B. Tobin, J. Cahill; P. Lynch, A. Mannix, D. O’Donoghue.
Subs: D. Tobin (Hegarty inj. 17); A. Kenny (T. Twomey 54); J. Moakley (Tobin 55); N. O’Brien (A. Mannix 55); N. Gowen (D. Cahill 57).
KNOCKSHEGOWNA: D. Brown; F. Bond (c), D. King, D. Bond; K. Gohery, P. King, M. O’Brien; B. Noonan, G. Gohery; J. O’Donoghue, M. Kennedy, J. Cleary; R. Killeen, M. O’Meara, D. Costello.
Subs: B. Bond (Cleary 43); G. O’Brien (G. O’Brien 47); M. Costello (Noonan 52); B. Carroll (O’Donoghue 58); J. Delahunty (D. Bond 62).
Referee: M. O’Connor (Limerick) — excellent job.
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