County Junior A Football Champions 2018!

Kildimo/Pallaskenry 1-15 Cappamore 2-7

After all the years of disappointment, we have won our first ever Junior A Football Championship and will play Intermediate Football in 2019! We now have Munster Championship coming up too, but this is a victory to be enjoyed and savoured and we’ll celebrate it thoroughly over the next few days! This was a complete team performance, certainly our most impressive all-round performance of the year; we suffered some setbacks along the way but we bounced back impressively and showed superb composure to see out the win!

We didn’t hit top gear in the first half; although we played some nice football and had a lot of possession, we didn’t take our chances and hit a lot of wides. It is something that we will look to improve upon as we embark on our Munster campaign but the nature of the performance was impressive as we moved the ball from defence to attack in fine fashion. After hitting a few wides early on, we did open the scoring and it was a fantastic individual effort from the impressive Conor Staff. Conor showed all his pace, power and athleticism as he set off on a solo run, bursting past a number of opposition players before cutting inside and landing a point with his right foot. It was a fantastic score, and one that buoyed us after all our early dominance. But it seemed to wake Cappamore up; like ourselves, they have been a side who have scored lots of goals all season and they showed this as their corner-forward received the ball and headed straight for goal. Mossy Sheehan put in a fine block, but the ball took a wicked deflection and spun past John Chawke into the back of the net.

It was a blow, and although Cappamore would also get the next score with a pointed free, Peter Nash would soon respond with a free of his own. We then began to exert a bit of dominance once again, and reeled off a couple of scores without reply. Peter scored a very nice point from play, coming onto the ball at pace and swinging it over the bar with his left foot. Immediately from that kick-out, we had another score. Keel Moloney did well to break the ball, the ball was moved up to wing to Darragh Deegan who linked up with Peter Nash and his quick hands found Tony McCarthy who had burst forward from defence to put the ball over the bar, easily the best team move of the game. Cappamore scored next with another pointed free, but then Conor Staff went on another powerful run, this time down the right touchline. He burst past three or four Cappamore defenders at pace, before being fouled. The Cappamore defender received a yellow card and Peter popped the free over the bar.

Although Cappamore would finish the half the stronger and would score the last two points to go up two points at the break, we were not too disheartened as we knew that we were playing well but had a lot more in us aswell. There had been some heroic defending, great blocks from the likes of Brian Howard and Mossy Sheehan, while Conor Staff was also getting through a lot of work. Keel Moloney was doing a lot of good work breaking ball in the middle of the field, while when the ball did go inside, the likes of Peter and Darragh Deegan did look dangerous. But at half-time, the score was Kildimo/Pallaskenry 0-5 Cappamore 1-4.

We then delivered an excellent second half performance, we just upped the gears and powered on to victory, the levels of composure shown to see out the win were hugely impressive. All year we have trusted our panel, and had players to come in and make an impact when those who start have given their all and this was no different today. All four of our subs made a positive impact when introduced, particularly Darren O’Connell and Kyle Hayes who were brought on as half-time substitutes for Darragh Walsh and Barry Walsh respectively; who had both put in a big shift but had picked up yellow cards. Immediately these two subs made an impact; Kyle won the throw-in, flicking it to Tony McCarthy. Tony delivered a first-time pass to Peter Nash who let it on to Darren, who was able to pop the ball over the bar with his left foot, a fine score inside 15 seconds of the second half. This showed that we meant business in the second half. Tony McCarthy then won the kickout, was fouled, before delivering the ball inside to Darragh Deegan. Darragh set off on one of his typically powerful runs, rounding the defender, cutting in along the endline before smashing the ball off the butt of the post. The ball rebounded back into play and the Cappamore back was lucky not to put it into his own net, as he didn’t know too much about it. The ref had been playing advantage for a foul on Darragh, and Peter was able to pop the ball over the bar and we were level once again!

We just looked a lot slicker in the second half and put together end-to-end moves at pace that were a rarity in the first half. A fantastic block again by Brian Howard turned the ball over in the left corner-back position and Kevin O’Connell swept up the loose ball. Within seconds, the ball was up the other end of the pitch and over the bar. Kevin moved it out of defence, Peter Nash picked it up, played the ball inside to Darragh Deegan, who held it up well and returned it to the onrushing Peter who fired over the bar on the run. It was another beautiful team move, which just sliced through the Cappamore defence and gave us the lead for the first time since the opening score of the game. Cappamore did pull back the next score, but then we opened their defence up again for another goal chance. Lorcan O’Leary played the pass, the defender missed the ball and suddenly, Darragh Deegan was in on goal again. Darragh was unlucky as he was pressurised as he took his shot on his left foot and saw the ball fly wide of the post. But we didn’t let this bother us, and when Bob McKeogh made the interception in defence; again, we moved it into attack quickly. Kyle Hayes was a central figure as he powered through the heart of the defence, he was fouled and brought to ground but was still able to pop the pass outside to Conor Staff. Conor stepped inside and fired over his second point of the afternoon, this time off his left foot.

Kyle was now dominating in the middle third, winning a huge amount of kickouts while Keel Moloney was still disrupting every single Cappamore kickout and breaking it for the likes of Tony McCarthy, Bob McKeogh and Darren O’Connell. Peter Nash and Darragh Deegan were much more involved in the second half and we were moving the ball through the lines at a much quicker pace. The next score was an absolute beauty, in both the build-up play and the cracking finish. John Chawke showed a safe pair of hands in taking down a tame shot before pinging a 40-yard pass straight into the hands of Bob McKeogh. Bob, Conor Staff and Darragh Deegan all linked up before popping it out to Peter once again, who just struck the ball as sweet as you like, and it curled straight between the uprights, another wonderful score, Peter’s third from open play. This gave us a two-point lead but would soon suffer another setback, as Cappamore rallied the troops. Peter and Kyle linked up down the right-side of the attack and Kyle’s handpass found Darragh who again was denied with his effort on goal. This time it was Cappamore who moved the ball quickly, and straight from that attack, they found their inside forward who turned and buried it into the back of the net, giving John no chance.

When they added a free shortly after, Cappamore somehow had a two-point lead despite us having played pretty much all the football in the second half. A lesser team may have allowed this to affect them psychologically and to lose the heads, but this was really where the composure came in. Our leaders stood up and although we missed a couple of chances, we continued to play the right way and there no panic set in. This proved to be the key, and the next score was the crucial one in the game. John Chawke’s kickout was brilliantly won by Kyle Hayes, the substitute showing his worth. Kyle then played a kick pass down the wing to another substitute, Liam O’Sullivan. Liam showed fantastic vision to split the Cappamore defence with a crossfield pass into the run of Lorcan O’Leary. Lorcan took the ball on, was fouled but was able to recycle and eventually the ball played across the goal was hammered to the back of the net by the fist of Darren O’Connell! Darren scored two goals in last year’s Intermediate Hurling County Final, he added another in this; he likes a goal in a County Final! Again, it was an end-to-end move and it was particularly nice to see all the subs involved and making an impact.

From there, we would never look back and we outscored our opponents by 5 to 1 in the final ten minutes! When Keel Moloney did brilliantly to intercept a loose handpass, he burst forward and found Lorcan O’Leary, who swung it over the bar with his left foot. Some good interplay between our forwards then resulted in Liam O’Sullivan being fouled and Peter Nash converted the free which opened up a three-point lead for the first time in the game! Kyle Hayes was then unlucky to see a shot on goal come off the post and go wide before we then opened our advantage further: this time it was Conor Staff and Darragh Deegan who did excellently to keep the ball alive, Peter Nash turned provider and it was that man Darren O’Connell who fired over with his right foot. Darren hit 1-2 from the bench, a point with the left foot, a point with the right foot and a goal with his fist; not a bad impact at all!

Cappamore did pull the deficit back to three with another free, but shortly after, Darren turned provider for Peter. Peter swivelled on a sixpence, and landed an incredible score with his right foot which raised a rapturous roar from the crowd behind him from the moment the ball left his boot. When Cappamore created the goal chance that they needed to pull themselves back into the game, they worked the ball to the forward rushing through but his powerful effort into the top corner was brilliantly saved by John Chawke! Darragh Deegan then had another opportunity to hit a green flag after some good play by Lorcan O’Leary and Bob McKeogh but the goalkeeper made a fine save and it went out for a ’45. We kept the ball brilliantly in additional time, with another substitute, Eoin Cuddihy constantly popping up in space before Peter Nash was fouled inside the square as he was about to pull the trigger. Peter took the penalty himself but decided to pop the ball over the bar for his 9th point of the game and that was the final action of what was a great afternoon for the club!

Tony McCarthy lifted the cup for the first ever time in the club’s history, and we now have a Munster Championship campaign to look forward to, as well as Intermediate Football in 2019. There were heroes in every line, every single player worked their socks off and put their bodies on the line! It’s been a long season, there were a couple of bumps along the way but when Tony lifted that cup, it really made all the efforts worth it! The management of Noel McCarthy, Killian O’Leary and Sean Cuddihy most take huge credit; it has been difficult at times but they have finally got this team over the line in this competition. It’s also right to mention those who have put in plenty of work to help us get to this stage; the likes of Darren O’Shea who put in a lot of work over the past few years; this has been a journey of a number of years for this team, which is only culminating now! Many thanks also to our supporters who came out in huge numbers and really drove us over the line this afternoon. It was also great to see our U-10 footballers represent the club at half-time, and partake in what was a fantastic occasion for the club!

What a win! County Champions! We’ll enjoy this one!

Team: John Chawke; Brian Howard, Kevin O’Connell, Evan Carroll; Mossy Sheehan, Tony McCarthy (0-1), Barry Walsh; Keel Moloney, Bob McKeogh; Conor Staff (0-2), Shaun Barry, Darragh Walsh; Darragh Deegan, Lorcan O’Leary (0-1), Peter Nash (0-9, 0-4 frees, 0-1 penalty)

Subs: Darren O’Connell (1-2) for Darragh Walsh (half-time); Kyle Hayes for Barry Walsh (half-time); Liam O’Sullivan for Shaun Barry (42 mins); Eoin Cuddihy for Conor Staff (57 mins)

Panel: Stephen Hodnett, James Pomeroy, Jamie Hickey, Naoise McGarrigle, Kieran Bourke, Michéal Keating, Tommy O’Connor, Steven O’Brien, Brendan O’Shea, Jonathan McHale