A pulsating and absolutely magnificent All Ireland intermediate hurling club championship final eventually went the way of Tullaroan at Croke Park this evening.
Captain Shane Walsh’s injury time point ensuring the victory after an eight-goal thriller.
The result secured double delight at the GAA headquarters for Kilkenny clubs.
It was truly heart-breaking for Fr O’Neill’s who gave their all especially as they fielded without two of their star forwards who failed to get their red cards from the semi-final overturned.
Fr O’Neill’s roared into a 1-4 to 0-1 lead, Declan Dalton’s goal in the 17th minute after a brilliant three man move involving Eoin Conway and Paudie McMahon, put the Cork men into the ascendancy and there were points from Conway, Dalton and Kevin O’Sullivan.
Tullaroan, who were slow to settle, picked off a couple of points from Shane Walsh and Bill Gaffney to put them back in contention.
When Martin Keoghan found the net after he was set up by Shane Walsh, the Kilkenny side took a slender one-point lead.
They were grateful to their goalkeeper Paul Buggy too who averted the danger when O’Neill’s got through on goal.
Just before half-time, the game took a turn when Colin Sloane’s short puckout fell into the path of Shane Walsh who quickly parted to Peter Walsh for Tullaroan’s second goal. The score left them 2-5 to 1-6 ahead at the interval.
The second half was incredible fare with the lead changing hands throughout. Conway’s goal from a Dalton line ball gave Fr O’Neill’s and edge.
And when Dalton and Cillian Broderick found the net within a minute of each other, the Cork team led 4-8 to 2-9 midway through the second half.
Back came Tullaroan who struck an unanswered 1-7 – a second goal from Martin Keoghan to move 3-16 to 4-8 in front.
A fifth goal for Fr O’Neill’s from Jason Hankard put the game in the melting pot again, leaving them one point adrift.
O’Neill’s drew level and with three minutes of added time elapsed, up stepped Shane Walsh with the winning point in the 64th minute.
S Walsh (0-9, 0-4 frees), M Keoghan (2-1), Peter Walsh (1-2), Padraig Walsh (0-1 65), J Walton and T Walsh (0-2 each), B Gaffney (0-1).
D Dalton (2-4, 0-2 frees, 0-1 65), E Conway (1-2), C Broderick and J Hankard (1-0 each), P McMahon and K O’Sullivan (0-2 each), T Millerick and S O’Connor (0-1 each).
P Buggy; D Doheny, Tommy Walsh (Village), S Maher; Martin Walsh, Padraig Walsh, J Keoghan; T Dunne, Mark Walsh; B Gaffney, M Keoghan, J Walton; Peter Walsh, Tommy Walsh (Mountgale), S Walsh (Capt).
K Coogan for T Dunne (39), A Tallis for M Walsh (44).
C Sloane; M Millerick, P Butler, G Millerick; J Barry, D Harrington (Capt), T Millerick; J Millerick, K O’Sullivan; L O’Driscoll, R Cullinane, P McMahon; E Conway, D Dalton, C Broderick.
J Hankard for E Conway (50), S O’Connor for J Barry (54), E Motherway for C Broderick (57).
Thomas Walsh (Waterford).