Knocknagree's meteoric rise takes them into senior ranks with victory over Kanturk

Knocknagree have been crowned Cork Premier IFC champions for 2020 after an all-Duhallow final
Knocknagree's meteoric rise takes them into senior ranks with victory over Kanturk

Knocknagree players and mentors celebrate after defeating Kanturk in the Bon Secours Cork PIFC 2020 final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Knocknagree 0-12 Kanturk 0-9 

Some things in life are worth the wait.

It's something Knocknagree discovered following this delayed 2020 Bon Secours Premier IFC final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, an all-Duhallow affair that was due to be played 10 months ago but fell victim to Covid-19.

As expected, this was a close affair with the teams tied six times. Low-scoring, yes, but never short of endeavour. Kanturk had to give way in the end, Knocknagree finishing with a flurry of four unanswered points.

The prize is promotion to senior A football for John Fintan Dalys’s men. It comes three years after they were crowned All-Ireland junior champions, and a season after winning the county intermediate title.

The draw for the 2021 senior A championship sees them in Group B along with Bishopstown, St Michael’s, and fellow-divisional side Kiskeam. And they won’t have long to wait as the action kicks off later this month.

You can rewatch the Irish Examiner's live coverage of the final here:

Kanturk were in front 0-6 to 0-5 at half-time.

Two Ian Walsh points from frees edged Kanturk ahead 0-2 to 0-1 after 10 minutes, Cork senior Daniel O’Mahony sent to the sin bin for the foul on Aidan Walsh for the second score.

Kanturk were looking lively up front but they failed to capitalise when they missed a good goal opportunity - Patrick Doyle making a stunning save from Ian Walsh.

Knocknagree goalkeeper Patrick Doyle makes a save from Kanturk's Ian Walsh during the Bon Secours Cork PIFC 2020 final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Knocknagree goalkeeper Patrick Doyle makes a save from Kanturk's Ian Walsh during the Bon Secours Cork PIFC 2020 final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

They were dealt a big blow, though, when Ryan Walsh had to go off injured with just 10 minutes elapsed, his replacement Daniel O’Connell (himself recovered from injury) pointing from a mark with almost his first touch.

Fintan O’Connor got the Knocknagree scoreboard moving again - with the breeze to their backs their second point arrived six minutes after Eoghan McSweeney’s opener.

At the first water break, Kanturk were 0-3 to 0-2 in the ascendancy. They increased that advantage with quickfire points from Liam O’Keeffe and Kyrle Holland (45) - the ’45 converted after goalkeeper Doyle was fortunate the ball hit the upright and went out over the end line when he was taken unawares by an unexpected back pass.

The white and blue pushed up on the Kanturk kick-outs and were successful, drawing level through McSweeney and O’Connor (2).

In stoppage time, a third free from Ian Walsh handed Kanturk the narrowest of leads.

Upon the resumption, they were level for the third time when Matthew Dilworth sent over a free. Paul Walsh and McSweeney then exchanged white flags before, in the 43rd minute, Knocknagree put their noses in front for the first time, their tenacity illustrated by another superbly struck O’Connor free.

Kanturk, with Lorcan O’Neill and Aidan Walsh very much in the thick of it, were soon back in front courtesy of a pair of unanswered points from Ian Walsh (one free) to lead 0-9 to 0-8 after the second water break.

Kanturk then found themselves down a man when substitute Brian O’Sullivan was sin-binned with just less than 10 minutes of regulation time remaining. It proved costly as Kanturk wouldn’t score again while Knocknagree added four points - a brace of O’Connor frees (he finished with 0-6), a brilliant solo effort from Gearoid Looney, and the final flag from wing-back Danny Cooper.

Interestingly, Colin Walsh and Tommy Walsh who featured prominently for the Cork U20 footballers and won a Munster title were not eligible for Kanturk as this is last year’s competition and they were then underage.

Scorers for Knocknagree: F O’Connor (0-6, 0-4 frees), E McSweeney (0-3), M Dilworth (free), G Looney, D Cooper (0-1 each).

Scorers for Kanturk: I Walsh (0-5, 0-4 frees), P Walsh, L O’Keeffe, K Holland (45), D O’Connell (mark) (0-1 each).

KNOCKNAGREE: P Doyle; D O’Mahony, M Doyle, G O’Connor; D Cooper, K Buckley (Capt), M Mahoney; D Moynihan, P Collins; J Dennehy, G Looney, E McSweeney; M Dilworth, J F Daly (Jnr), F O’Connor.

Subs: Denis O’Connor for E McSweeney (47), David O’Connor for D Moynihan (49), A Sheehan for P Collins (52).

Sin bin: D O’Mahony (10-20).

KANTURK: J Fullerton; J McLoughlin (Capt), D Browne, L Cashman; L O’Neill, Aidan Walsh, L McLoughlin; J Fitzpatrick, P Walsh; L O’Keeffe, M Healy, R Walsh; K Holland, I Walsh, C Clernon.

Subs:

D O’Connell for R Walsh (10 inj), Alan Walsh for C Clernon (36), B O’Sullivan for K Holland (47), E O’Connor for J Fitzpatrick (55), J Browne for Aidan Walsh (63 inj).

Sin bin: B O’Sullivan sin bin (52-62).

Referee: David Murnane (Macroom).

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