Joy for Blackrock as glory days return

NEVER were three cheers for a losing team rendered more heartily to the heavens than at chilly Croke Park on Saturday evening as Blackrock captain, Brendan Hennessey called for tribute to be paid to a gallant effort by St Colmcille’s of Tyrone in this All-Ireland club junior hurling final.

“My heart goes out to those boys,” he said. “We know the effort they made to get here.”

Unfortunately for the Tyrone lads, however, effort wasn’t enough on this occasion as they were outhurled, outplayed, outclassed by the well-drilled highly skilled Kilfinane/Ardpatrick combination from Limerick.

Blackrock raced into a seven-point lead after just 13 minutes (1-5 to 0-1). The points came from wing-forwards Kevin Palmer and the outstanding Richie McCarthy (0-2), along with midfielder Simon Hennessey and corner-forward Aidan Murphy; the goal was netted by the alert Murphy after a long sideline ball from midfielder David Moloney. Niall O’Neill (one of eight O’Neill cousins and brothers on the northern starting 15) had the sole reply for Colmcille’s. The Tyrone champions settled in the second quarter to trail (1-9 to 0-4) at the break.

Blackrock manager Justin O’Connell was still concerned at the change of ends. His reasoned: “We had to be a bit wary at half-time – you’re so far ahead and it could have been even more. So we got them to come out again and play another half just as they’d played the first. There’s great spirit in this team, they work very well together, and when you do that, everything comes together.”

And work was what it took in the second period; with Richie McCarthy continuing to impress, the pacy O’Shaughnessy brothers Ruari and Barry (second half sub) causing problems, Blackrock kept the scoreboard ticking over, while a defence in which Nigel Hosford, TG Ryan and Thomas Clifford offered good protection to keeper Pat Heffernan, kept the Colmcille’s attack in check.

The young Moloney brothers, Brian and David, were superb while long-striking wing-back Richie Murphy also caught the eye and bombed over two long-range frees. A word too for the veteran Heffernan, who, in his 40th year, is more than twice as old as some of his teammates. Three times in the second half he was called on in dodgy situations, three times he delivered and when he was eventually called ashore in the final minutes, it was to a huge ovation from the massive Kilfinane/Ardpatrick support.

“It’s a dream come true,” he said. “To win an All-Ireland with your own club, in Croke Park – nothing can come close to this. We didn’t play as well as we’ve played all season but we’re very happy with the result – we got the win, and that’s the main thing.

“There’s a lot of talent in the club, young talent, a lot of lads coming through from the U21 county title last year, and when you have leaders in every line, as we have, you’re going to come up trumps.

“Richie McCarthy was outstanding in the first half especially. He won a lot of puckouts, made some great scores and got a few as well. Dave Moloney, Richie Murphy and so many others played well. Young Kevin Palmer is still a minor, but he was very unlucky not to get a goal. There is a lot of hope for the future now, in the club.”

Finally, to captain Hennessey again, the trophy now secure in his hands; while it wasn’t the first All-Ireland title to head for Kilfinane – the club won Limerick’s first All-Ireland at senior level, in 1897 – this was still a day to remember for the boys in green-and-white.

“I can’t get over this – I’m standing on the steps of the Hogan Stand in Croke Park! 113 years ago Sean Óg Hanley brought an All-Ireland cup back to Kilfinane – it gives me great pride, and great honour to do the same today. We’re going to enjoy this for the rest of our lives!”

Scorers for Blackrock: R McCarthy 0-7 (3f); A Murphy 1-2; R O’Shaughnessy, K Palmer, R Murphy (2f) 0-2 each; N Moloney, D Moloney, S Hennessy, 0-1 each.

Scorers for St Colmcille’s: N O’Neill 0-4 (2f, 1’65’); S O’Hagan, Rory O’Neill, S McKiver, Ryan O’Neill, J O’Neill, 0-1 each.

BLACKROCK: P Heffernan; N Hosford, TG Ryan, T Clifford; R Murphy, B Moloney, N Moloney; D Moloney, S Hennessey; K Palmer, B Hennessey (capt), R McCarthy; R O’Shaughnessy, P McGrath, A Murphy.

Subs: B O’Shaughnessy (S Hennessy 42); V Herbert (N Moloney 46); K Douglas (A Murphy 53); D Danagher (ryan 57); A Fitzgerald (Heffernan 57).

ST COLMCILLE’S: P Maguire; Ryan O’Neill (Duff), Ryan O’Neill (Mór, capt), P Corr; D Murphy, W Lyons, A Taggart; S O’Neill, J O’Neill; Ryan O’Neill, N O’Neill, S McKiver; Rory O’Neill, P O’Neill, S O’Hagan.

Subs: T O’Hagan (D Murphy 35); K Barry-Corrigan (Ryan O’Neill 43); B Taggart (J O’Neill 48); S McKee (P O’Neill 55); E Kirwan (O’Hagan 58).

Referee: G Duffy (Antrim).


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