Wolfe Tones (Clare) 1-18 Newcestown (Cork) 2-13: John Meyler, according to James Carrig, walked into the Wolfe Tones dressing room after their Munster quarter-final defeat of Kilmoyley and informed the opposition that Cork champions Newcestown were more than a match for any team in the province.
The Clare champions had beaten Meyler’s Kilmoyley by 4-12 to 2-6, but his words left a sour taste.
On Saturday afternoon, Wolfe Tones brought the curtain down on Newcestown’s season, and, in the process, secured the club’s second Munster title, adding to the senior hurling crown annexed back in 1996.
Fuelling their efforts, said delighted winning-manager Carrig, were the events of October 24.
“John Meyler came into our dressing room and told us the Cork champions would win it. That drove us on even more,” remarked Carrig.
“We were sickened that he had overlooked us after we had beaten them in the quarter-final.
Everyone was talking about Newcestown. They were favourites for Munster from the word go.” What the bookmakers hadn’t allowed for on the run in to Saturday’s contest was Daniel Twomey’s suspension and a groin injury incurred by Conor O’Neill during the league final against Fermoy on the Saturday previous.
It tipped the scales ever so slightly in Wolfe Tones’ favour and a glorious 18-minutes of hurling during the first-half – in which they outscored their opponents by 1-9 to 0-1 – laid a firm platform for success.
Ben O’Gorman and Aaron Shanagher contributed 0-7 of this gally, with the latter also splitting open the Newcestown defence to allow the unmarked Gary O’Connell flick to the net on 21 minutes.
Shanagher was the dangerman of the Wolfe Tones attack and as four red and gold shirts swarmed to close attention to end his run, it enabled centre-forward O’Connell drift unnoticed to the edge of the square for the simplest of finishes.
Further back the field, their half-back line, supported by sweeper Daithi O’Connell, was near-impenetrable.
“We could do no wrong in that first-half. Our running game, our work-rate and our intensity is unbelievable.
“We started on the 14th of January and we are still going at the end of November. These fellas are committed, they have clocked 131 sessions this year.
“Their character was called into question [after being relegated] last year by a lot of people around the county and a lot of people in the club. Today they proved people wrong. There is character in Wolfe Tones.
“The Munster senior was top notch [in 1996] and getting to an All-Ireland final, but this win is right up there.
“For this bunch of lads, young and old, who have never experienced anything like this, it is terrific.
“To bring a Munster title back to your club is a great achievement.” Four Eoin Kelly frees approaching the break which narrowed the gap to 1-11 to 0-8 handed Newcestown a lifeline, but the Clare men were always at least five points clear for the majority of the second half.
The weather and the hurling deteriorated during this period, with five further frees from Kelly ensuring Wolfe Tones did not move permanently out of sight. Shanagher (two frees), John Guilfoyle, Daithi O’Connell and a superb effort from sub Jack Cunningham kept the Clare outfit in a commanding position and but for a fine save from Newcestown ‘keeper Darren Heffernan to deny Cunningham, it would have been game over. All the while, however, there was this sense of inevitability to the end result.
As the clock spilled into time added on, Trevor Horgan whipped an Eoin Kelly free to the net. 1-17 to 1-13 read the scoreline. Game back on, finally.
An Aaron Shanagher free in the subsequent action again looked to have put the result to bed, but Horgan fired a second goal when the Wolfe Tones defence failed to deal with a Seany Ryan delivery.
Continued Carrig: “We knew that Newcestown have finished strong all year.
“We worked hard on the last 10 minutes and seeing it out. It was a case of settling down and dogging it out. That is what we did.”
Scorers for Wolfe Tones:
A Shanagher (0-9, 0-7 frees, 0-1 ’65); G O’Connell (1-1); B O’Gorman (0-3, 0-1 sc); J Cunningham, K McCafferty, D O’Connell, R Hayes, J Guilfoyle (0-1 each).
Scorers for Newcestown:
T Horgan (2-0); E Kelly (0-9, 0-9 frees); M McSweeney, C Keane, T Twomey, L Meade (0-1 each).
P Hogan; D McCarthy, D O’Rourke, J Roughan; B Loughnane, B McPhillips, B O’Connell; B O’Gorman, J Guilfoyle; K McCafferty, G O’Connell, R Hayes; A Shanagher, A Cunningham, D O’Connell. Subs: J Cunningham for Hayes (46), D Devanney for McCafferty (56), S Costelloe for G O’Connell (58).
D Heffernan; M McSweeney, J Crowley, G Murphy; O Keane, J Desmond, F Keane; T Twomey, J Meade; C Twomey, C Keane, T Horgan; E Kelly, L Meade, M Bradfield. Subs: S O’Donovan for Bradfield (40), S Ryan for C Twomey (45), C Dineen for O Keane (56).
Referee: J Murphy (Limerick).
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