Cloughduv master conditions better
CLOUGHDUV followed in the recent footsteps of some great Cork junior hurling sides by claiming the Munster Junior Hurling title in Mallow last Sunday.
In front of a couple of thousand hurling fans the boys in green stood firm against a Ballinameela side that in truth never really lived up to their pre-game billing, but Cloughduv did exactly what they had to do in conditions that were in truth less than ideal for expansive hurling. Great pitch conditions but serious wind blowing diagonally across the field.
This win was ground out in the first half as Cloughduv played against the strong wind in the opening 30 minutes - but still managed to come out on top by two points at the break. Ballinameela were really done at the half point mark and despite battling away to the finish it was almost an impossible task for them to stop what had become a Cloughduv side destined for glory.
Cloughduv’s title win has been a long time in the coming and that is what made last Sunday’s win all the more special. There were tears of joy from players and fans and who could blame them. Cloughduv have serious history in the game and many in the club felt that this was their chance – their only chance of making it on the big stage.
Led on the pitch by Mark Verling, along with his brother and talisman Brian, Cloughduv kept the scoreboard ticking over which is one of the most important factors in any final, never mind in the heat of battle at provincial final stage. Cloughduv’s scoring was consistent throughout the game which was a real positive for all concerned. The forwards and midfielders showed a willingness to shoot all game with six of the front eight managing to bag scores on the day.
Up front the Verling’s were impressive with Joe Ryan battling hard in the first half to little avail however a good spell in the second saw the full forward bag two vital scores. Andrew Cronin and James Moynihan also shone however out the field the endeavour shown by U21 star Mark Walsh was significant in a middle third that was packed for most of the game.
Walsh was immense all game with two terrific scores and a work ethic that made him the dominant force in the pivotal central role.
“This is incredible really,” said the influential number eight. “Two years ago, in the mid-Cork we got beaten by Ballinora in the second round and we were disgusted with that. Then we probably were a little too cocky going into last year’s championship and we got knocked out first round of the county but this year has been incredible.
“I just can’t believe it. I have my older brother there Kevin coming on and this is his second Munster (He was with Canovee when they won before) so it is incredible for him as well. Fair play to the backs there at the end they cleared some ball. We were up against it at times. They hit the crossbar and put us under pressure, maybe the scoreline could have been a bit closer but fair play to all the lads.
“It was packed in the middle of the field all game. Whoever was pucking out into the wind pulled men into the middle and the ball would get stuck in there. At one
stage the ball didn’t get picked up for about two minutes – there were fellows pulling all over the place but thankfully at that time and at the end we pulled through for this great win. It is a huge win for us.
“It was a though first half for us. They hit us hard with the first two scores but we fought back quickly to get ahead. We worked hard and I think we deserved the win. We will have a short celebration now because there are seven of us (including Walsh) involved in the U21’s on Wednesday night but I am sure we will get a chance to celebrate properly in the coming weeks.”
For those of us that were sitting pitch-side without that much info on the Waterford champions the word on the street was that Ballinameela were a serious outfit with plenty of promise but to be fair to the Deise side they really didn’t show that for long periods. During the final 15 minutes (when you would expect the kitchen sink to be thrown) Ballinameela seemed to be out of pace, power and passion and from 46 minutes out this one (bar a catastrophe) was always going the Rebel side’s way.
Cloughduv will now face Dunnamaggainof Kilkenny in the All Ireland semi-final and while that challenge is still a bit away yet it would be hard to expect players and mentors to not be dreaming of their chance at an All-Ireland Final at headquarters.
Cloughduv’s Aidan Murphy gets away from Ballinameela’s Kevin Phelan