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Knocknagree celebrate their All-Ireland. Picture: INPHO/Ken Sutton
Knocknagree celebrate their All-Ireland. Picture: INPHO/Ken Sutton

Knocknagree's expansive style of play showcased the best of Cork football

WHAT’S rare is wonderful and that’s the case of Knocknagree after claiming a long-awaited All-Ireland Club JAFC title for a Cork team.

The fruits of Knocknagree’s winter labours tasted sweet in Croke Park on Saturday and, with a host of Cork clubs present, including Cork’s last winners, Canovee from 2008, to bridge a barren 10 years was a massive boost for football in the county.

Its been a frustrating spell for Cork teams in the provincial Junior and Intermediate grades, time and again faltering to Kerry sides. Over the past five years, Knocknagree had attempted to vie for a county prize but without success, ever improving but short of delivering the dividends and repeating a county triumph from 1991.

Those frustrations are gone now, all the riches came to Knocknagree on Saturday last, as not only did they delight their fans, their style of play has impressed many neutrals and certainly blew teams such as Mulyfarnham apart on the wide open expanses of Croke Park.

Little wonder, they were misty-eyed Knocknagree supporters in the Hogan Stand to acclaim their heroes. Their support base comes from both sides of the county bounds, lying in the parish of Rathmore where fellow parishoners Rathmore and Gneeveguilla hold a massive passion for football and some great names have graced the highest honours in the land for Kerry teams.

Michael Mahony is about to hit the net. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Michael Mahony is about to hit the net. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

In so many ways, Knocknagree take a leaf out of Kingdom football book, and coach John Fintan Daly, readily acknowledges his adaptation to an attacking style took five years to nurture.

Daly holds the midas touch, managing club, division and Cork teams for close on 40 years, his astute guidance has delivered All-Ireland club titles for Miltown Castlemaine (2012) and Knocknagree now.

Their ploy of moving the ball from one end of the field to the opposite side is refreshing, kick passing a far divergence away from the more modern trends of retaining possession and recycling football. Daly is a perfectionist, not entirely happy with Knocknagree’s performance in Croke Park.

Then again, how Knocknagree started with their best available 15 players defies logic, Danny Cooper played with a broken bone and the skillful Eoghan McSweeney had a severe shoulder injury owing to torn ligaments. Those two players showed a willingness to endure the pain barrier and contribute to a famous day.

And Jerry Carroll returned to play in Croke Park for the first time since 1991 when he figured on a Kerry team in the All-Ireland Vocational Schools final!