Shamrocks 0-9, Ballinhassig 0-8
Shamrocks are South East Junior A Football Champions for 2016 after a titanic struggle with last years champions Ballinhassig in Belgooly on Saturday night. Shamrocks were hanging on in the end in a low scoring contest as Ballinhassig pushed for the equaliser but the defence, who were magnificient as a unit, held out to claim Shamrocks first success at this level since 1994.
Shamrocks were never led in this game. Darragh O’Sullivan (0-5) opened the Shamrocks scoring inside 5 minutes from a free and soon after finished off a great team move to slot over from play. The inside Shamrocks full forward line were dangerous every time they got possession and soon after Cannice Caffrey pointed another flowing movement and Shamrocks were motoring well, 0-3 to 0-0. Ballinhassig started to gain a foothold around the middle and the Shamrocks backs came under pressure. Fergus O’Neill in the Shamrocks goal had to be alert to a few occasions and Ballinhassig started to open up the Shamrocks defence. They picked off some scores and went in at HT level 0-5 to 0-5 after another O’Sullivan free and a superb Caffrey point from play for Shamrocks. All to play for in the second half.
Shamrocks had the aid of the slight breeze in the second half. They switched around their forward line at the start of the second half with Joseph Shanahan going to full forward. He gave Shamrocks the start they needed after 3 minutes with a beautiful left footed inswinger after one of his mazy runs and Shamrocks were up and running. Belief started to creep in from there and Shamrocks opened up a significiant 3 point gap with 15 minutes to go after further points from O’Sullivan and Caffrey, 0-8 to 0-5.
At this point Shamrocks were in control but once again, Ballinhassig came forward in droves without ever threathening the Shamrocks goal. Possession was the name of the game in the second half with most of the play featuring multiple triangles of handpassing around the middle third. This suited Shamrocks no end. They drew a line at their own 45 yard line and made Ballinhassig work very hard to even get inside it. Some heroic defending kept them at bay. Ballinhassig brought it back to a one point game with 8 minutes left 0-9 to 0-8 and amazingly there were no other scores left in the game. Ballinhassig will rue their 14 wides and Shamrocks can count themselves lucky that they didnt have their shooting boots on but to be fair, most of those wides were under serious pressure from the outstanding Shamrocks backs.
Barry Mulqueen was the captain of the team. He accepted the trophy from the Rúnaí of the Board, Declan O’Neill. Pat Desmond, chairman, conscience of the occasion, asked Declan as a proud Shamrocks man to present the trophy to a fellow clubman. Barry was fulsome in his praise for the referee and his officials, the Belgooly pitch, the superb Ballinhassig team and mentors and the whole club of Shamrocks. This was a significiant statement as this truly was a whole club achievement after 22 years. Many people in the club have soldiered on without success at adult level for many’s the year and this was sweet payback time. The club absolutely needed a major trophy at adult level and now this will be celebrated for a good while.
For many players, this was a magical feeling. There is a cohort of them who have been trying without success to win a SE football medal for 10 years plus. Yesterday was special for them. Just to see the look on their faces at the end was magnificient. They had battled on and now they are champions! Well done to them and to the management on a great year.
Cathel Kidney was presneted with the Man of the Match award after the game.
Panel – Fergus O’Neill, Michael Prout, Stephen Hurley, Cathal Kidney, Jason Browne, Chris O’Neill, Mark Hitchmough, Barry Mulqueen, Mark Jordan, Joseph Shanahan, Alan McCarthy, David Andrews, Cannice Caffrey, Philip Brady, Darragh O’Sulluivan. Subs used – David Hayes, Jonathan Tuohy, Stephen O’Neill. Subs not used – Robbie Harrington, Senan Andrews, Roy Twomey, Jack Wilson, Brian Sweeney, Criostóir Corkery, Seanán Collins, Darragh Scriven, Seán Kideny, Dave O’Neill.