Saints march to East Cork title
ST CATHERINE’S brought the Jamesey Kelleher Cup back to Ballynoe for the fourth time in the club’s history as they were crowned East Cork Oil Junior A Hurling Champions following their five point victory over Russell Rovers last Saturday afternoon in Midleton.
It was definitely a novel pairing which drew a huge crowd to Midleton with Russell Rovers going for their first final victory in the grade.
St Catherine’s, who suffered a final defeat to Sarsfields last year, were determined to make amends and go one better in search of a fourth title in East Cork.
Just like Galway, who got off to a flier against Waterford in the All-Ireland final, the Saints started off well with a Shane O’Brien ‘65’.
Then a goal from out of the blue from a well worked move in from the right wing, where Shane O’Brien set up Brian Mulcahy, who passed superbly to Richard O’Connell, who powered the ball home for the game’s only goal.
Josh Beausang sent over a free for Rovers and then the Bud Hartnett raised a white flag from play.
But the goal would prove decisive throughout the final and St Catherine’s seemed able to react every time Russell Rovers put up a couple of scores and Shane O’Brien sent over two frees for the Saints without reply into what was a significant breeze to restore the four point advantage.
Frees were a key ingredient in the match and Beausang sent over two late scores for Rovers and O’Brien responded with one for St Catherine’s to leave his side leading by three points at the short whistle.
The team talk at half time in the Russell Rovers dressing room must have been good because when they returned to the field in the second half they were certainly fired up and sent over two early second half scores from Beausang from play to leave the minimum between the sides.
However, St Catherine’s controlled the situation well and O’Brien pointed yet another free and Rory Galvin scored to yet again give St Catherine’s the three point cushion.
Back came Beausang with another score from play and again the response from St Catherine’s was lethal with Daniel Mangan and Shane Kearney scoring from play.
Hartnett sent over a fine score in the 43rd minute to keep Russell Rovers hopes alive, but now Mangan was getting a little more freedom for the Saints in the middle and struck over another excellent point from play.
As the final reached the last seven minutes the ever reliant Josh Beausang was on target with another pin point accurate free, but it was to be Rovers last score of the final and as the game drew to a conclusion St Catherine’s finished with a flourish through the excellent Shane O’Brien adding a brace of pointed frees to his tally and second half substitute Pa Roche finished things up with a well-taken point in the 59th minute.
Rovers needing two goals, did get two very late frees where Beausang had the difficult task on both occasions of trying to find his way through a lined St Catherine’s goal line and when Arthur Murphy blew the final whistle it would be hard to argue with the result. It certainly wasn’t a classic final and the hurling was scrappy at times, but that won’t bother St. Catherines in the slightest as they continue on into the Cork County championship along with Russell Rovers.
In recent year’s Imokilly based teams like Castlemartyr, Dungourney and Sarsfields have gone on to win County titles and there is no reason for this trend not to continue in the championship where in East Cork, the Saints go marching on and they will fancy their chances of making an impact in the county stages in the coming weeks.
But for now, they can bask in the glory of this success.
St Catherine’s celebrate their victory over Russell Rovers in the East Cork JAHC final in Midleton.
St Catherine’s players are mobbed by their supporters after defeating Russell Rovers in the East Cork JAHC final in Midleton.
East Cork Board chairman Richard Fitzgerald presents the cup to St Catherine’s captain Daniel Mangan, after they defeated Russell Rovers in the East Cork JAHC final in Midleton.