Where Sarsfields, Midleton, and Carrigtwohill had all failed in recent years, and even the Glen themselves 12 months ago, the Blackpool side brought the curtain down on a barren seven-years for Cork teams in Munster’s premier club competition.
Not since Newtownshandrum’s Munster final triumph in 2009 had the Cork champions managed a provincial win.
Indeed, the Glen’s slender one-point win also bridged a much longer gap – all of 40 years – to the club’s last Munster final appearance. And it was a result achieved despite spending almost the entire afternoon in the slipstream of their opponents.
Diarmuid Byrne’s free 80 seconds in had the Cork champions chasing this semi-final right from the off and there were 37 minutes on the clock before parity was restored.
There were 58 minutes on the clock before Richie Kelleher’s charges edged their noses in front for the first time and, just as it had been in the county final, it was Patrick Horgan who almost single-handedly hauled the Blackpool outfit across the finish line.
Stephen McDonnell, who delivered a towering second-half performance, delivered the sliotar in the direction of Hoggy after yet another burst from defence.
Underneath the corner of the Mackey Stand, the Glen sharpshooter muscled his way in between three Patrickswell defenders to win a ball he had absolutely no right to.
Into the mix arrived a fourth blue shirt. Still Horgan held on. The foul eventually came and when he flung the resulting free between the sticks, the Glen found themselves 0-14 to 0-13 in front.
Patrickswell shot wide in the ensuing passage of play and the Glen supporters in the crowd of 2,751 knew they’d have another day out when Conor Dorris fired them two clear in the first minute of stoppages.
Aaron Gillane halved the deficit with his fourth free, but on an afternoon where Cork’s Munster drought came to an end, so too did the stranglehold of Limerick clubs on Munster – Na Piarsaigh (2013 and ’15) and Kilmallock (2014) came out on top in the three most recent editions.
“A few years ago, our club was at a serious crossroads,” said winning manager Richie Kelleher. “Financially, we were in a huge hole. We didn’t know where we were going as a club hurling-wise.
“To turn all that around and be in a Munster final is just brilliant. It is something I never thought about. I never dreamt about being in a Munster final. It is just unreal for a club like ourselves.”
Kelleher, as has been the case for much of his reign, had Horgan to thank for ensuring their season stretches on for another fortnight, at least.
“We’re mad about him,” he beamed. “He knows where the posts are and he’s going for the jugular when it’s on. He doesn’t care what is in front of him.
“The opposition know if they let him go, he’ll put it in the back of the net.
“That is why he is fouled so often. If he was a slighter player, he’d probably get more frees. But because he is so strong, he doesn’t get as many frees as he should.”
Mind you, the centre- forward struggled early on and hit three wides (two from the placed ball) as they ran up seven wides inside the opening 13 minutes. David Busteed opened their account little over a minute later and their first-half tally of 0-4 wasn’t exactly promising.
Patrickswell returned back down the tunnel three clear – Diarmuid Byrnes (one ’65 and free) and Gillane (three frees) contributing the bulk of their tally. Manager Gary Kirby, though, felt they should have been further clear. “With the amount of chances we had, a lead of three points was disappointing.”
One of those misses was Cian Lynch’s fifth-minute goal opening the Limerick forward drilled narrowly wide.
“The ones we missed, we had been putting them away all year. That was a good chance with Cian. It just went wide.”
Thomas O’Brien, Lar Considine and Seanie O’Brien were all presented with further goal opportunities in the second period. Graham Callanan, with a goal-line clearance, denied Considine, while Hickey thwarted the other two. Most impressive was his 54th minute save to keep out Seanie O’Brien’s batted effort.
“There were five goal chances in total and we got none. We said at the start of the week that we needed to take our chances when they came our way.”
Three unanswered points from David Busteed, Donal Cronin and Dean Brosnan had the Glen back on level terms early in the second-half and although Gillane, Byrne and Thomas O’Brien returned Kirby’s side back in front at various junctures entering the final quarter, the gap never stretched beyond two points.
“We’ve left it late in a lot of matches this year,” continued Kelleher, “We do make it very, very hard on ourselves, but we refuse to give in or give up. We always play until the very end. Today we did that and we got over the line.” How much did it mean to them?
The passionate embrace between Kelleher and Tomás Mulcahy outside their dressing-room told its own story.
Now, can they write another chapter?
P Horgan (0-8, 6 frees); D Brosnan, D Busteed, C Dorris (0-2 each); D Cronin (0-1).
A Gillane (0-6, 4 frees); D Byrnes (0-3, 2 ‘65’s, 1 free); T O’Brien (0-2), C Lynch, K O’Brien, J Kelleher (0-1 each).
C Hickey; C Healy, S McDonnell, G Moylan; D Noonan, B Moylan, G Callanan; D Dooling, D Cronin; D Brosnan, P Horgan, D Cunningham; C Dorris, C O’Brien, D Busteed.
B Phelan for O’Brien (43)
B Murray; T Nolan, J Mann, N Carmody; M Carmody, D Byrnes, N Foley; B Foley, J Kelleher; A Gillane, S O’Brien, C Lynch; T O’Brien, K O’Brien, L Considine.
J Flynn for Foley (47); P Harty for Considine (57).
R McGann (Clare).
Patrick Horgan’s 58th minute free to nudge Glen Rovers ahead for the first time. Horgan won possession despite the presence of four Patrickswell defenders and then drew the foul.
The bridging of a seven-year gap to Cork’s last victory in the Munster club SHC. Yesterday’s semi-final victory also brought to an end Glen Rovers’ 40-year wait for a provincial final appearance.
Cathal Hickey’s diving save to deny Seanie O’Brien on 54 minutes. With the sides level at 0-13 apiece, a Patrickswell goal at this juncture would surely have been the game’s deciding score.
Patrick Horgan’s eight points, six of which arrived from the placed ball, were accentuated by his work-rate from general play. Most notable was the manner in which he took on four Patrickswell shirts and won the free which sent Glen Rovers ahead. Special mention too for ‘keeper Cathal Hickey who made two vital second-half saves.
Glen Rovers made a couple of key positional switches at the back in the second-half to put the squeeze on the Patrickswell attack. The Limerick champions had found several pockets of space early in the second period, but managed only three points in the closing 20 minutes.
A couple of borderline calls by Rory McGann. Diarmuid Byrnes was hard done by when adjudged to have pulled down Patrick Horgan, even though the Patrickswell defender was in possession. Glen midfielder Donal Cronin should have been awarded a free when held up by two blue shirts late in the first-half, while Cian Lynch was deemed to have thrown the sliotar inside his own half late in the second period. Horgan converted the resulting free to level the game at 0-13 all.
Glen Rovers meet Clare champions Ballyea in the provincial decider on November 20.