2001: A Hurling Odyssey
Declan Barron Visits The Killeagh Camp On Sunday Night and Talks to Players Mentors and Officers About Their Wonderful Success In The Aftermath of Sunday’s County Intermediate Hurling Championship Final.
There may not have been a sinner left in the small East Cork village of Killeagh on Sunday last, as the whole parish converged on Páirc Uí Chaoimh to support their hurling heros in the County Final replay. On Sunday night last however the population of the parish had trebled as fans from all over East Cork gathered to salute a fantastic team who had given a tremendous display to propel their club into the Senior Hurling Championship for next season with a fully deserved victory over a gallant Mallow side. At around 6.30 the cavalcade arrived in Killeagh to a tumultuous reception as both young and old celebrated a never to be forgotten victory. The team was paraded through the main street with their proud Club President Tom Fitzgibbon leading them in as both players and mentors received a rapturous welcome from the huge attendance. After the parade I managed to speak to some of those involved and gain an insight into what this victory means to the club.
I first spoke to Club President Tom Fitzgibbon and asked him what the win means to the club.
An overjoyed Tom tells me that this win will give the club a renewed lease of life. Tom tells me that what is most significant about the victory was the manner in which it was achieved with the club having to play eight championship games and to beat all of the fancied teams into the bargain. Tom points out that for them the preliminary round game against Carrigtwohill was probably their hardest game as it was a new beginning for the team who had lost a number of players from the previous year. That one point victory started the ball rolling and from there on the players self-
For Tom this win is the culmination of years of hard work by dedicated clubmen. Tom recalls an Under 12 East Cork win in 1975 when only a handful of supporters were present as the club paraded that team through the street as well. From there the club has continued to grow with their junior success in 1995 propelling them into the Intermediate Grade in 1996. Reaching the Intermediate Final in 1998 was a great achievement but in hindsight Tom says it might have come a little too soon, as you must serve your time so to speak. That loss to Castlelyons was also a great eye opener and the lessons learned were put to good use during the year. Tom is fulsome in his praise of the current club officers who he said left no stone unturned in the pursuit of victory.
While it is ultimately the players who must perform, the part played by coach Willie Kearney and his selectors Kevin Galvin and Richard Landers must not be overlooked. That led us along nicely as we ran into Willie Kearney who was delighted with the win.
I asked Willie what had the team done to prepare for the game, as they appeared to be very focused this time round. Willie tells me that while many people may have felt that they had left the game behind them the last day that the players were adamant that they under performed and that they were determined to finish the job this time round. Willie tells me that the resolve of the team was something to behold. I asked Willie about the changes they made this time and the effect it had on the game. Willie tells me that many people felt that the changes they made in the drawn game worked against them, and while this might appear true it also served as a learning point as this time round it was decided that the time was right to include Brendan Walsh from the start as he had trained very hard. I asked Willie if he was worried at half time as the great start the team had made had been wiped out with Mallow going in very happy at the break.
Willie tells me candidly that there was no panic as even though Mallow held the lead that the initiative was with Killeagh who had played against a fresh breeze. There was an air of determination in the dressing room as all of the players were prepared to work for one another to win. This was epitomised by Mark Landers who was lifted by his team mates at half time as he emerged in the second half with a renewed spirit and a fresh position as the burden of the restrictive centre back position had been lifted with Dick Walsh taking over the pivotal role. Larry Collins when moved to midfield was also a revelation as the pieces finally began to fit as they had done in the drawn game against Blarney. Willie tells me that it was also decided to bring Brendan Walsh further out from goal and as a result the space left inside was exploited by Joe Deane. I asked Willie about the contribution of Johnny Brenner who had scored another crucial goal. Willie is quick to point out that Johnny Brenner has many qualities that often go unnoticed and while his goal from a drop shot after an incisive run has all the hall marks of a great player, it is his work rate and general play which are most valuable to the team as he never gives up on a ball. Turning to Joe Deane, Willie has this to say about the master craftsman. Every side has good players but Killeagh has Joe Deane who is an inspiration to those around him. Willie says that this is epitomised most at the back because the lads know that if they do their job well then they are always in with a chance with Joe Deane in your side up front. His presence not to mention his ability takes a lot of pressure off the other players who on Sunday all lifted their own games to new heights. Willie tells me that their victory was born out of a passion and pride of a small village, where the contribution of all the players on the panel was immense as each and every one of them put in the effort in training.
After thanking Willie for his time, we briefly reflect on the success his son Liam is having across channel and on the big week ahead for him. Willie tells me that Liam was not allowed out to see the game but that the first phone call he received was from Liam who was listening to the game. Willie was looking forward to being able to see Liam’s games during the week for Ireland as this true gentleman epitomises all that is good about sport.
Mingling with the huge crowd I come across Mark Landers who is never stuck for words. I ask Mark what the win means to him. Mark tells me that the win is a superb end to a marvellous season as they have beaten some great sides on the way to the title. Mark is carrying some visible scars of battle as I ask him if it was a tough game. Mark replies as only he can that “Pain is temporary but Glory is forever”. I then come across one of the unsung hero’s Michael Byrne whose first half goal was very important. I asked Michael if the drawn match had helped them in any way, as they seemed much more composed this time round. Michael tells me that they were very determined today that they would do themselves justice. He felt that they were contesting the 60/40 balls and winning them this time round, as they knew what to expect from Mallow. They were very nervous in the drawn game but they knew what to expect this time round.
Sitting on a windowsill I spot Johnny Brenner who has a satisfied grin on his face. I ask Johnny what this win means to him. Johnny tells me that it is unbelievable to be part of such a great team. In his first year he has taken part in three County Finals which is a fantastic, with a loss with Imokilly, a draw and a brilliant win for the club to put the icing on a remarkable year. I ask Johnny if he could be facing his team mates in next year’s Championship when Waterford face Cork, but he is quick to point out that he has not given that any thought as yet as he is still coming to terms with today’s victory.
Spotting our media colleague and Killeagh full back Damien Irwin I ask him what the win means to him. Damien tells me that it is a dream come true to win a County Championship with your club. I ask Damien if he would like to be facing Alan Browne in the first round next year and he tells me that since he is now domiciled in Glanmire that the draw he wants next season is Sarsfields in the first round.
Damien is surrounded by supporters as team manager Kevin Galvin comes into view with Killeagh 2001 Champions emblazoned across his tee shirt. He tells me that a Mallow woman supplied the tee shirt but I fear he is only joking as I ask him about the game today compared to the drawn game. Kevin is frank in his assessment of the first game in that he felt Mallow knew a lot more about them than they did about Mallow. Kevin tells me that on the Tuesday after the draw the lads put in a fantastic training session and from there on they felt that they could only get better. After looking at the drawn game they felt that there were areas they could improve upon and today the proof of the pudding was seen as the team played much more aggressively this time round as they were not going to lose a lead if they got it this time. All year they have made changes during the games with Brendan Walsh coming on and making an impact in most games. The selectors felt that to start Brendan this time round would give him more time to make an impact and they were glad that it worked. I congratulate Kevin on a job well done as I manage a brief word of congratulations from a very busy Secretary Tommy Seward who is making sure that all of the players get ready to go for a well deserved meal. As I take my leave the supporters were settling in for a long session as the victory is going to be replayed many times before the week is out.
Courtesy of the Imokilly People.
4th Nov. 2001
Intermediate hurling championship final replay:
Senior hurling awaits us next year after we finally got the better of Mallow in the intermediate hurling championship final at Pairc Ui Chaoimh last Sunday.
The standard was not quite as good as the drawn encounter but this proved to be an exciting contest nonetheless. We led by 0-
With the breeze behind us in the second half, we improved substantially. A Joe Deane free had cut the deficit to two points before former Waterford star Johnny Brenner burst through to score Killeagh's second goal. Deane quickly followed up with his second goal and with 15 minutes remaining, we had forged into a 3-
Pa Dineen rifled a penalty to the net to give Mallow hope but our defence held firm in the closing stages to secure our first ever intermediate championship triumph.
Intermediate hurling championship final:
Killeagh ........ 2-
Mallow .......... 2-
Declan Barron Reports From Pairc Uí Chaoimh On Sunday afternoon last at Pairc Ui Chaoimh spectators were treated to a thrilling TSB Bank Sponsored Cork Intermediate Hurling Final. Whichever one of these two fine clubs who will ultimately finish up in the Senior Grade will have well and truly earned their passage the hard way. When both clubs study the video they will I am sure find things to improve upon for the next day. None of that matters now however as both Killeagh and Mallow are to be complimented on producing a wonderful display of all that is good about the game of hurling. This final had all the ingredients of a thriller in the making and indeed when the action unfolded not a sinner was disappointed that both sides will have to meet again in a replay. In truth neither side deserved to lose as both sides had chances of winning in a game that swung pendulum like from side to side all through with the sides being level on eight occasions. There were some brilliant individual displays on both sides who can look back on this first instalment with pride as each and every player gave it his all in search of the promised land of Senior Hurling.
Mallow Make Early Running;
This game had all that this year’s Senior Championship lacked with Mallow making the early running. Those in search of some expenses however were rewarded when Joe Deane who was 5/1 at Cashman’s to land the first score provided an early windfall when he shot over a point from a free in the opening minute, after a foul on himself. Mallow were not deterred as they stormed into the game with Tadgh O’Riordan proving a handful at centre forward. Mallow had made some switches to their line up from the start and these seemed to be working with Fergal McCormack hitting the equaliser in the 5th minute. Already the exchanges were being contested with a fervour which is club hurling at its best. Mallow went in front when free taker Ray O’Connell was on target a minute later, and followed this up with another point as Ronan Galvin opted to shoot over when he had a possibility of a goal after being sent through with a neat hand-
Landers Does It Again;
Already we had our first Yellow cards as both Damien Irwin and his direct opponent Fergal McCormack went into the book after they became involved in an incident after a late tackle on Rochford. These cards only served to focus the players on the job in hand as first Joe Deane again was on target from a free before his County colleague Mark Landers made his way forward after Mallow goalkeeper Colm Sheehan was penalised for sitting on the ball. From the resultant 20 metrre free Landers regained the lead for Killeagh as his blistering shot hit the Mallow net through a wall of defenders. From being outplayed early on Killeagh were now right back in the game. Their joy was short lived however as Mallow again went on the attack with Fergal McCormack knocking the ball into the path of Pa Dinneen who saw his well struck effort blocked by Rochford in the Killeagh goal only for the ball to arrive at the feet of Jodi Hayes who looked suspiciously inside the square before planting the ball in the net to restore the Mallow advantage. This goal would have shattered many sides but not Killeagh who responded in terrific fashion through their Waterford County player Johnny Brennar who struck over two marvellous efforts in as many minutes. Brennar had earlier seen two other shots go wide, as he was the one Killeagh forward who was beating his direct opponent early on. Again Mallow edged their noses back in front as Mark Burke fired over from midfield before Joe Deane again equalised after he was again fouled. As half time approached Pat Dinneen edged his side ahead again only for Deane to level matters once more before Ray O’Connell finally sent his Mallow side into the dressing room with a one point lead when he pointed a 29th minute free. A terrific first half saw Mallow lead by 1-
Killeagh Lift Their Game;
As the sides lined up for the second half Mallow had introduced Diarmuid Kerrisk at midfield for Brian Carey in the hope of gaining control of an area which saw Tom Barry and Padraig McCarthy fight tooth and nail to keep Killeagh in the hunt. The half time talk must also have worked as Killeagh were visibly lifting their game all over the field. Larry Collins who was well held in the first half exemplified this. Collins was a changed player and he fired over to leave the sides level for the fourth occasion in the first attack of the second half. Mallow were then gifted the next score as the Killeagh defence were guilty of not clearing the ball on the ground and when the ball was finally hit out the waiting Ray O’Connell gladly accepted the chance to fire his side ahead again. Killeagh were now showing their true form as Mark Landers, Dick Walsh and Team captain Ger Scully were finally getting to grips with their opponents. This improvement in the half back line also helped the inside men as Kieran Scully, Damien Irwin and Noel O’Connor were also first to the ball as the Killeagh defence were slowly getting on top. This improvement at the back led directly to a better service to the forward division where Joe Deane once again displayed his brilliance with an exquisite piece of skill to fashion a point out of nothing to again leave the sides deadlocked. Michael Byrne who worked really hard then shot Killeagh ahead once more with a great point from out on the left wing. Killeagh were now in full flight with Johnny Brenner earning another free as he was tackled high. This time Mark Landers fired straight and true as for the first time Killeagh had opened up a two point gap and were looking like Senior material.
Killeagh Head For Home;
Mallow again kept in touch as Ray O’Connell pointed his third free before Killeagh hit a purple patch mid way through the half. First Joe Deane landed his 7th point before a long delivery from Dick Walsh found Larry Collins racing across field some 30-
Mallow Dig Deep;
With the clock still ticking the exchanges were now being contested with gusto all over the field as Killeagh held onto their slender lead. The Mallow challenge was growing and one could sense that there was more to come. Mallow supporters were not to be disappointed as another long delivery from Ronan Sheehan was plucked from the air by Ronan Galvin who fired an unstoppable shot past Bernard Rochford to leave the sides level for the eight time with five minutes left. There was still time for either side to get the winner as the supporters from both sides urged their side on to win. Neutrals however were delighted with the score as one could not get enough of the splendid affair on offer with one hoping that it would never end. There were still to be a few twists to the plot as first Joe Deane burst forward without his hurley and dribbled the ball goalwards before shooting with the boot at Colm Sheehan who saved and advanced from goal to pass to Ronan Sheehan who passed to Nicky Dinneen some fifty metres from the Killeagh goal. Dinneen did everything right as he had both time and space to get his shot in. Supporters from both sides held their breath as the ball sailed towards goal. It was a huge shot, which went just outside the post to the relief of Killeagh and the disappointment of Mallow. Had it gone over it would have been rough justice on Killeagh who looked winners entering the final quarter, but it would have been well deserved for the manner in which Mallow fought back and refused to give in when all seemed lost. The game ended with the puck out as two gallant sides will get another chance to see who will emerge to take their place in next seasons senior championship.
Everyone will have his or her own impressions of the game and indeed of each individual player. It was a huge occasion for both clubs and they can be proud of their standard bearers, as indeed both sides would be worthy senior material. Mallow looked the better side in the early part of the game with Tadgh O’Riordan, Fergal McCormack and Ronan Galvin in great form up front while Clive Kerrisk, Ronan Sheehan, John Walsh and Patrick Buckley were playing well at the back. Killeagh on the other hand were slow to settle but their big guns answered the call when most needed with Joe Deane, Mark Landers and in particular Johnny Brenner having great games as did Tom Barry at midfield and Damien Irwin and Noel O ‘Connor at the back with Michael Byrne, Brian and Brendan Barry and goalscorer Larry Collins improving as the game went on. Both sides will have two weeks to reflect on the game and return in 14 days time to decide the issue, with extra time a distinct possibility. Conditions were ideal on Sunday and hopefully they will be again favourable for the replay, which will draw another huge crowd who will hope that they get more of the same superb entertainment. It is still anybody’s game with both sides having already been involved in drawn games so neither side will worry too much if they don’t reach the heights of the drawn game as what will be important to the clubs will be the result and not the performance. Everyone will agree that if we get more of the same we will have no complaints as these two worthy representatives have come through an absorbing campaign to be the last of the 26 who started out and who still remain inseparable.
Scorers:Mallow; R Galvin 1-
Semi Final: Sunday Sept. 9th 2001
A huge crowd packed into Ahavine expecting a rip-
Quarter Final REPLAY: Sunday Aug. 25th 2001
What a difference in six days! Everything that could go right did as we notched our biggest championship score of the year with Deano on fire. In the first half it was Conor Cronin, Brian Barry and Thomas Barry who led the charge and when Larry Collins got his second goal after half-
Quarter Final: Sunday Aug. 19th 2001
The night of the fright!! All our dreams almost went up in smoke on this night. A very sluggish opening 30 minutes meant that Blarney led at half time. The writing looked to be really on the wall early in the second half when we went eight points down against the wind. However, master substitutions by the selectors, who introduced Brendan Walsh and Shane Scully, pulled this one out of the fire. Both scored a goal each and Deano got one too to ensure we got another chance to prove that we could do better. This was the closest we had got to being knocked out but we survived—just about!
Round 4: Friday Aug. 3rd 2001
This was another close encounter and one which we were rather fortunate to get out of with a win. Ballymartle pushed us all the way but Brendan Walsh’s introduction -
Round 3: Saturday July 7th 2001
Páirc Uí Rinn was our next stop to take on the challenge of Newcestown. Honours were even for the first twenty minutes, but a Deano goal gave us the upper hand before half-
Round 1: Friday May 4th 2001
Our first championship match of the year saw us make the short journey to Castlemartyr to take on our East Cork rivals Carrigtwohill. It marked the official opening of the splendid new pitch in Castlemartyr, which was named in honour of their recently departed and much loved Club President Paddy Walsh. In a cracking contest, Andy Leahy had the distinction of raising the first green flag in the new pitch, while Johnny Brenner made an inspiring championship debut at midfield. In the end, it took a cracking Mark Landers goal to nudge us through, in what was generally agreed to be one of the most entertaining games seen in East Cork for years. It meant we avoided Round 2 and went straight into Round 3.
Intermediate hurling league final; Killeagh complete double
We completed the intermediate league and championship double when we recorded a three-
Intermediate hurling league semi-
It took another stroke of Joe Deane magic to rescue Killeagh in this intermediate hurling league semi-
Bandon: T. McCarthy, K. Walsh, J. Burke, K. Doyle, M. Gaynor, T. Bambury, T. O'Donnell, N.O'Rourke, J.O'Regan, D. O'Donoghue, K. Hurley D. Burke, J. Nyhan, G. O'Donovan, A. O'Donovan. Subs, R. Sweetnam, J. O'Connell, J. Ahern.
Referee, P.Spillane, Carrigtwohill.