Times too when they looked tired, made look ordinary by a tenacious Courcey Rovers side that battled all the way. But when the need was greatest, Grenagh were able to up the ante, cousins Mark and Tom Kenny thearchitects in chief with eight points between them. It was a massive contribution and steered Grenagh to a decider that could take some weeks yet.
With both finalists going up intermediate, Grenagh make no secret this title is a priority and, having previously lost a final, defeat would be unthinkable. They played some good football, but selector Anthony Kenny knows they have a lot of work to do to achieve their goal.
“Yes, we opened well and were grateful for our five point half-time lead. But I was worried when Courceys came at us in the second-half. It was a tough game, we really had to dig deep. In the end Jerry’s goal was crucial, but we’re happy, Courceys are a good side.”
Russell’s eighth minute strike, after some sloppy defensive work by Courceys, did prove the winner, but, over the hour, Grenagh always had that extra bit of know-how and Mark Kenny’s super four points in the opening half always had them in control.
And it was a good first-half, both sides committed to open football. Grenagh made the better start when Martin Barry pointed after only two minutes and although Vincent Hurley did have a few chances for Courceys, it was the Mid Corkmen, with Donie Dorgan and James O’Neill driving them on from the half back line, who looked the more menacing. Kevin Desmond was only inches away from an opening goal but there was no stopping full-forward Russell in the eighth minute after terrific work by Desmond and Tadhg Walsh. The goal enabled Grenagh to lead 1-3 to 0-1 in the first quarter, Courceys’ sole point coming from John Murphy.
Mark Kenny was having a great afternoon for Grenagh. He kicked his second mighty point in the 16th minute to increase their lead. Courceys were in big trouble, badly needing a lift. And, great battlers as they are, they responded in style. Hurley kicked his first point from a free and when the excellent Declan Murray and Murphy with his second point followed, the Ballinspittle men were back in business.
Indeed had Michael O’Donovan and Seamus Twomey been steadier, they might have been even closer until Murray’s 25th minute point left just two between them nearing the half-time whistle. But then Mark Kenny again showed his kicking prowess with two huge frees and when Barry followed another pointed free, Grenagh were ahead 1-7 to 0-5 at the break. The standard dropped alarmingly in the third quarter with some very sloppy play and careless passing and it was Courceys who had the better of matters as two more pointed frees from Hurley and O’Donovan from play left just two between them, 1-7 to 0-8, entering the final quarter.
This time it was Grenagh who needed a shake-up and the switch of Tom Kenny to centre-forward, with his cousin Mark going to midfield, worked the oracle. The Cork hurling midfielder kicked a peach of a point in the 47th minute, after good work by the 17 years-old Walsh and Desmond. And when Mark Kenny kicked his third free the damage had been repaired.
In fairness to Courceys, they never gave up the chase. Hurley added another pointed free, but with Tom Kenny scoring another peach Grenagh were on their way to the final.
Grenagh: M. Kenny 0-5 (0-3 frees), G. Russell 1-0, T. Kenny 0-3, M. Barry (0-1 free) 0-2. Courcey Rovers: V. Hurley 0-4 (frees), J. Murphy, D. Murray 0-2 each, M. O’Donovan 0-1.
D. Linehan; M. Lehane, K. Kenny, R. Dorgan; J. O’Neill, D. Dorgan, A. Duggan; T. Kenny, J Russell; T. Walsh, M. Kenny, A. O’Neill; K. Desmond, G. Russell, M. Barry.
A. Kenny for Duggan, S. Coleman for O’Neill.
T. Collins; D. Murphy, T. Lordan, B. Hayes; K. Moloney, B. Hayes-k, A. Collins; S. Twomey, G. Moloney; J. Murphy, D. Murray, S. Hayes; V. Hurley, M. O’Donovan, J. Duggan.
G. Moloney for Collins, D. Hayes for Duggan, S. Hurley for G. Moloney, A. Hegarty for J. Murphy.
S. Dorgan (Nemo Rangers).