50 years of heartbreak over for comeback kings Castlemartyr

Castlemartyr 0-18 Ballinhassig 0-10
0-13 to no score was the story of a remarkable second-half turnaround which landed Castlemartyr their first Cork Junior ‘A’ Hurling Championship in 50 years.

“It’s kind of surreal,” said captain Barra Ó Tuama after lifting the John Quirke Cup.

“We’ve wanted this since we were little kids pucking around and I can’t believe it has actually happened.”

The East Cork men had failed to win a semi-final in five attempts since 2009, before beating Cloughduv in a replay, and they played some liberated hurling in their maiden final.

“They say you’ve to lose a few before you can win some, so we’ve had a bit of practice now,” continued Ó Tuama.

“We’ve lost out by a point or two in the last few years but we learned how to get over the edge when it came to the nip and tuck stuff.

“It felt like nothing was going past our backs and that gave us a savage platform for the second-half. The confidence seemed to filter through the team and we knew we were going to win it 10 or 15 minutes into the second half.”

Five points down at the break to a wind-assisted Ballinhassig, Brian Lawton cracked the post from an early goal chance before the points began to trickle. His brother Barry Lawton got the first and also produced the equaliser with 11 minutes remaining, pointing a 65 after his fierce shot was saved by John Coleman.

Coleman produced another excellent save, palming over Liam Martin’s shot a minute later, but with Castlemartyr now in the lead, the trickle became a flood.

Despite 14 wides, Brian Lawton, Seanie Hennessy and Barry Lawton found the posts to put them out of sight, before adding four more scores in the final four minutes to huge roars from the Castlemartyr faithful.

The first-half was a completely different story, apart from Hennessy hitting the butt of the post in the third minute. David Brennan and Darran Dineen controlled the middle-sector to allow Ballinhassig to reel off five points in a row.

Castlemartyr dropped Brian Lawton back to play effectively as a sweeper and that tactic helped to limit the half-time deficit.

“Brian is a senior inter-county hurler and he can play anywhere for you — he’s our ‘go to’ man,” said team manager Cha O’Neill of the switch.

“We weren’t too worried five points down at half-time. When we get into the groove, we’re a hard team to stop.”

13 points without reply and some long awaited silverware stand as testament to that fact.

Scorers for Castlemartyr: Barry Lawton (0-9, 3fs, 2 65s), Briain O Tuama, S Hennessy (0-2 each), J Stack, Barra O Tuama, Brian Lawton, L Martin, D McAuliffe (0-1 each).

Scorers for Ballinhassig: D Dineen (0-5, 2fs, 1 65), D Duggan, P Coleman (0-2 each), M Aherne (0-1f).

CASTLEMARTYR: E McGovern; O Smiddy, R O’Donavan, E Roynane; D O Tuama, B Smiddy, A Bowens; Briain O Tuama, Barra O Tuama; D McAuliffe, Brian Lawton, Barry Lawton; J Stack, S Hennessy, C Haines.

Subs: L Martin for Haines (47), J Smiddy for Stack (61).

BALLINHASSIG: J Coleman; S McCarthy, J Rearden, S Sheehan; J Holland, M Aherne, P Brennan; D Brennan, Chris Reynolds; D Dineen, P Coomey, R Lombard; P Coleman, D Duggan, Colin Reynolds.

Subs: G Sheehan for Chris Reynolds (ht), K O’Sullivan for Lombard (48), M Walsh for Coleman (56).

Referee: T O’Donovan (Douglas).


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