Of all the habits to have, being used to winning games you shouldn’t be winning ranks about best of the lot.
Kanturk hung in there and never stopped working across a 45-minute spell in which they never led: from Ciarán Ó Duinnín’s 33rd-minute goal until the 78th minute. It was then they produced a rabbit from the hat.
Subbed off after 37 minutes, Ryan Walsh returned to the pitch for the final 10 minutes of extra time. He kicked a huge leveller followed by the winner in the space of a minute. Cill na Martra, worn down by Kanturk’s never-say-die spirit, couldn’t muster a response in a semi-final they could and should have won.
For all the years of experience on the field, it was teenage goalkeeper Ronan Cashman who made the biggest difference. He pulled off fine saves from Ciarán and Daniel Ó Duinnín in the first half before coming up to kick the equaliser at the end of normal time.
There was every reason for the occasion to get to him. His misplaced short kick-out had been punished for Ó Duinnín’s goal earlier in the half. The clock was three minutes over and the ball 50 metres out from goal. Undaunted, Cashman’s kick never wavered from the target and, among all the club legends and star forwards on the field, he was the first man his manager Pádraig Kearns namechecked post-match.
“The last kick the goalie made to draw it was awesome for him, only 18 or 19 years of age.
“Kanturk are on the road for years in hurling and football. In the hurling, especially, they’re [used to] coming from behind and winning games they shouldn’t be winning. These boys know how to win games.”
It’s a trait that has been passed on to the younger generation. Cashman’s fellow U20s Grantas Bucinskas (1-2) and Colin Walsh (0-4) led the scoring, while Tommy Walsh provided assists for that pair from wing-back.
All bar Colin will have their first county final appearances against Bantry Blues this month. That it comes alongside Aidan Walsh and the McLaughlin brothers, lining out for their 12th county finals in 12 years, offers some insulation against stage fright. They’ve been there and done this. Three times in a row, in fact, at this grade.
Cill na Martra’s season ends at the semi-final stage for the third year in a row but how different it could have been. They lined out without Tadhg Corkery, while Graham Ó Mocháin limped off early doors. Trailing to the sloppy concession of Bucinskas’s 14th-minute fisted goal, they had three shots on goal blocked while Mícheál Ó Deasúna was wayward with four placed balls.
They were still level at the half, 0-7 to 1-4, thanks largely to Ciarán Ó Duinnín who scored two points and laid on two more before goaling on the resumption.
Down 1-9 to 1-6 but never beaten, Kanturk equalised three times in the final 10 minutes of normal time, twice through Colin Walsh before Cashman cancelled out Jason Mac Cárthaigh’s late 45. 1-11 all at the end.
There were no scores in the first extra period but Cill na Martra were the happier, surviving the first nine minutes without the black-carded Críostóir Ó Meachair.
Ó Deasúna, like Ryan Walsh, was subbed back in and he put Cill na Martra ahead in the 73rd minute but Paul Walsh kicked an immediate leveller from distance. Colm Mac Lochlainn edged the Gaeltacht side back into the lead but Kanturk, and Ryan Walsh, found a way.
G Bucinskas (1-2); C Walsh (0-4, 1 free); P Walsh, R Walsh (0-2 each); R Cashman (free), L McLaughlin, I Walsh, C Clernon (0-1 each).
C Ó Duinnín (1-2); C Ó Fóirréidh, D Ó Duinnín (1 free), M Ó Deasúna (1 mark) (0-2 each); A Ó Cuana, F Ó hÉalaithe (mark), M Ó Duinnín, J Mac Cárthaigh (45), C Mac Lochlainn (0-1 each).
R Cashman; J McLaughlin (capt), J Browne, L O’Neill; T Walsh, D Browne, B O’Sullivan; P Walsh, Alan Walsh; G Bucinskas, L McLaughlin, R Walsh; C Walsh, Aidan Walsh, I Walsh.
D O’Connell for Aidan Walsh (25-28, blood), D O’Connell for R Walsh (37), C Clernon for I Walsh (45), L O’Keeffe for L McLaughlin (57), R Walsh for O’Sullivan (h-t e-t).
P Ó Críodáin; G Ó Mocháin, N Ó Laoire, F Ó Faoláin; D Ó Conaill, S Ó Fóirréidh, C Ó Fóirréidh; A Ó Cuana, G Ó Goillidhe; F Ó hÉalaithe, D Ó Duinnín, C Ó Duinnín; D Ó hÚrdail, M Ó Deasúna, M Ó Duinnín.
C Mac Lochlainn for Ó Mocháin (15 inj), S Ó Duinnín for M Ó Duinnín (41), C Ó Meachair for Ó Deasúna (49), J Mac Cárthaigh for Ó hÚrdail (59), A Ó hUidhir for Ó Conaill (60), M Ó Deasúna for Mac Cárthaigh (h-t e-t).
C Ó Meachair (60+3-69).
J Bermingham (Bride Rovers).