Twice before, they had fallen short to Dromcollogher-Broadford in finals after replays (’04 and ’12), but there was never any doubt this time as they burst from the blocks.
Their early dominance put them 1-5 to 0-1 ahead — man of the match Stephen Kelly’s blast to the net giving them the edge. He bagged 1-3 overall.
Manager Mike Quilligan was almost stuck for words — a rare occasion, he said afterwards. His two sons Thomas and Michael were also on the selection and he had special mention for the 32-year old talisman. “Probably as good as I have ever seen Stephen play. He stood up for us today and I am delighted for him. He had nothing won at club level believe it or not and he got his just rewards. And to do it on a day that mattered like all great players do. We’ve had a good bit of heartache so I don’t think anyone will mind us winning a county.”
The Newcaste West minors got the day off to a great start, winning the county in the curtain-raiser. And it didn’t take long for the seniors to get going. In the first minute Stephen’s brother James opened the scoring. Thomas Quilligan added two more points before Stephen Kelly and Mike O’Leary made it five-nil after 14 minutes.
Dromcollogher-Broadford suffered two injury setbacks when midfielders Jason Stokes and Michael O’Sullivan collided and had to be replaced temporarily in the sixth minute. Both came back on but Stokes was unable to continue and was substituted three minutes before the interval.
This upset their momentum and they didn’t open their scoring from play until the 24th minute, courtesy of Seanie Buckley. By this juncture they were seven in arrears, with Stephen Kelly’s brilliant 16th-minute goal a major factor. Buckley added another white flag before the break. A pair of pointed frees from Killian Phair meant they trailed 0-4 to 1-8. They were struggling — and Newcastle West were rampant.
After the restart and in front of an attendance of 1,643 Dromcollogher-Broadford hit back with a trio of points from Derry McCarthy, Phair, and Patrick Donnelly to come within four points, 0-7 to 1-8 at the three-quarter mark.
In spite of squandering two earlier goal chances, Newcastle West got going again. Jamie Lee showed remarkable confidence after being set up by Mike McMahon to find the net when a point might have been easier. The corner forward’s goal set them on their way.
They crowded their own half of the field to defend the lead, giving very little space to the opposition. Two pointed frees were all they conceded. Lee, again, scored a point to push them 2-9 to 0-8 clear with 10 minutes remaining. And driven by the likes of Ian Corbett, Cian Sheehan, Stephen Brosnan, Stephen Nix, and the capable John Joe Sheehy in goal, there was no way they were leaving this one behind.
The last act fell to substitute Sean McAuliffe who curled over a fantastic point to wrap up a memorable victory for Newcastle West and their third title — the first since 1992.
Clonmel Commercials are up next in the Munster club quarter-final. It is fixed for November 1 in Tipperary which should give them a few days to celebrate this famous win.
S Kelly (1-3), J Lee (1-2), T Quilligan (0-2), M O’Leary, J Kelly and S McAuliffe (0-1 each).
C Phair (0-5 frees), S Buckley (0-2), P Donnelly (free) and D McCarthy (0-1 each).
J J Sheehy; M O’Keeffe, B O’Sullivan, S Brown; M O’Leary, S Nix (Capt), P Hannan; I Corbett, C Sheehan; S Brosnan, S Kelly, T Quilligan; J Kelly, M McMahon, J Lee.
S McAuliffe for M O’Leary (50), B Doherty for T Quilligan (52), M Quilligan for J Lee (57), G Reidy for S Brosnan (60), D Woods for M McMahon (62).
G Greaney; D Boyce, G Noonan (Capt), B Noonan; M Brosnan, D O’Leary, C Fahy; J Stokes, M O’Sullivan; S Buckley, P Donnelly, K Noonan; R Lynch, K Phair, M Reidy.
D McCarthy for J Stokes, G Egan for M O’Sullivan (both subs 6-14), D McCarthy for J Stokes (27), G Egan for D Boyce (half-time), P Madigan for K Noonan (51).
Donal Enright (Dromin Athlaca).