Deane has been through it all with the county over a long and distinguished career. At 37, many like him have hung up their boots, but such is his commitment to his club, he continued to play on after retiring from the inter-county scene and how grateful Killeagh must be to him he made that decision.
Belying his years, Deane gave a wonderful display of hurling skill, craft and impeccable free-taking. But work ethic was the ever-present theme of his performance and his team-mates responded to his promptings. Lining out at midfield, Joe could be regularly found back in defence lending a hand when needed and his clever use of the sliotar, particularly in the last 10 minutes when Courceys threw everything at them, was a lesson for any player.
While Deane will deservedly take all the plaudits, the contributions of David Cahill, Joe Budds and Eoghan Keniry were immense, and the fact goalkeeper Bernard Rochard didn’t have a save to make over the 60 odd minutes is testament to the excellence of his defence in which Patrick O’Brien and Brendan Barry were magnificent.
Courceys were forced to line out without the vastly experienced Timmy Lordan and he was a massive loss in a defence which found itself under constant pressure. A weakness in attack, epitomised by the failure of their forwards to pose any trouble to the Killeagh netminder, meant no clear-cut goal chance was created, although had Seamus Hayes opted to pull first time on a breaking ball on the edge of the square with five minutes to go, instead of lifting the sliotar into his hand, it might have resulted in a goal that would have earned his side a second bite of the cherry.
With so much at stake the good sized crowd came expecting a keenly contested affair and weren’t disappointed. It was tough, honest hurling by both sides, with defences very prominent.
Killeagh opted to play with the wind in the opening half and were quickly into their stride with a Joe Budds points after just 30 seconds and when Joe Deane added another soon after, the East Cork side got the perfect start.
There was little to choose between the sides in the opening moiety at the end of which Killeagh held an 0-5 to 0-3 lead, primarily due to Deane’s marvellous accuracy from placed balls. Timmy Lordan’s experienced was sorely missed in the Courceys defence but Dan Lordan did his best to compensate.
Killeagh’s hunger for victory was greater than Courceys and that was epitomised by the game’s only goal in the 21st minute when David Cahill took off on a great run, shifted a couple of heavy tackles along the way but managed to stay on his feet before billowing the new from 13 metres out.
It was a goal to inspire and Killeagh, with Deane leading the way from midfield, finished the half strongly to deservedly lead 1-10 to 0-8 at the short whistle. Courceys didn’t help their cause with two successive wides on the change over and continued in that vein despite have the lion’s share of possession.
By the end of the third quarter Killeagh had stretched their lead to six points, 1-15 to 0-12, and Courceys needed a goal if they were to have any chance of pulling this game out of the fire.
That it didn’t come was down to a combination of very weak Courceys attack and a rock solid Killeagh defence which often saw eight players back behind the play ensuring the Carrigdhoun side never got that chance. It was fitting Deane should have the final say scoring two points, the second one a superb effort on the run to cap a outstanding night for the former Cork hero.
Scorers for Killeagh: J Deane (0-9, 6fs, 1 65), David Cahill (1-2), J Budds, E Keniry (0-2 each), G Leahy, C Fogarty, B Rochford (65) (0-1 each).
Scorers for Courcey Rovers: Daire Lordan (0-9, 6fs), S Hayes (0-3), N Murphy (0-2), K Moloney, G Minihane (0-1 each).
KILLEAGH: B Rochford; Darragh Cahill, C Fogarty, P O’Brien; C Fogarty, B Barry, K Lane; D Walsh, J Deane; S Long, A Walsh, J Budds; E Keniry, G Leahy, David Cahill
Subs: B Collins for D Walsh (40), P Ó Cearbhaill for Darragh Cahill.
COURCEY ROVERS: S Nyhan; J Duggan, Gary Moloney, D Duggan; O Gately, V Hurley, Dan Lordan; Gavin Moloney, K Moloney; Daire Lordan, N Murphy, D Murphy; S Hayes, G Minihane, S Holland
Subs: S Moloney for S Holland (45), S McCarthy for J Duggan (45).
Referee: K Murphy (Nemo Rangers)