Blackrock wrote their own history as Glen’s destiny was unfulfilled

Blackrock wrote their own history as Glen’s destiny was unfulfilled

Alan Connolly of Blackrock celebrates a score last weekend in their victory over the Glen. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

THERE was a sense of destiny about Glen Rovers’ quest for silverware this season.

In the 100th year since the birth of Christy Ring, they produced stunning jerseys to commemorate the greatest hurler to ever pick up a camán. In a direct link, Ring’s grandson Simon Kennefick was leading their attack alongside one the Glen’s most accomplished players since Christy retired: Patrick Horgan.

 Glen Rovers' Patrick Horgan getting the better of Blackrock. Picture: Dan Linehan
Glen Rovers' Patrick Horgan getting the better of Blackrock. Picture: Dan Linehan

As a point of information, there’s no shortage of hurling heritage on Simon’s father’s side either, his grandfather Seán won counties alongside Ring. Seán Kennefick actually captained the Glen to a county in '67, the same year Ring stepped away.

Serious genes there.

Kennefick stitched a pair of stunning goals in the opening round of this year’s Premier Senior Hurling Championship in a devastating Glen display against St Finbarr’s, which was broadcast live on RTÉ. He was bang in form through August and September, 3-8 from play before the showdown with Blackrock.

He certainly rose to the occasion in the second half last Sunday. His two goals, one an absolutely brilliantly instinctive finish worthy of deciding any county final, didn’t get the credit they deserved because the game was so dramatic and in the context of Blackrock’s eventual triumph.

After Horgan, Kennefick was Rovers’ best forward, in the Páirc and over the whole campaign.

Simon Kennefick putting pressure on Jamie Ryan. Picture: Dan Linehan
Simon Kennefick putting pressure on Jamie Ryan. Picture: Dan Linehan

The Cork captain shot 2-55 in five games, 1-16 from play. Cathal Cormac, and the rest of the Rockies’ rearguard, did everything they could to hound Horgan but he still lanced over 0-4 from play, including the lead point for the Glen with time elapsing, while redeploying him from centre- to full-forward yielded 1-2 after being fouled.

At 32 years of age, Horgan is hurling better than ever, but that wouldn’t have softened the blow of back-to-back county final defeats. Thankfully, and unlike the situation with Cork, he has two senior medals, to go with two at minor and an U21 victory, but being beaten in four other senior counties will fuel Horgan and the Glen again into 2021.

Before switching the focus from Blackpool to Blackrock, Richie Kelleher and Ian Lynam deserve kudos for their unstinting commitment to the club, having been involved for 15 years with the core of these players.

Also, Robert Downey had another excellent season for the Glen and when they took over in the second half last weekend, he was immense. Only recently turned 21, as he fills out and matures, he has the attributes to anchor the Cork defence this decade.

It’ll be interesting to see if any of the Rockies push on to play senior championship for Cork. While the depth of the panel at the disposal of Fergal Ryan and his selectors was a crucial factor in not only the county final but also the semi-final epic with UCC, only Michael O’Halloran and Stephen Murphy have featured at the elite end.

Neither started a senior championship game to date; Murphy now focuses on club hurling, though O’Halloran is still in the Cork squad. Though the Cashman brothers Niall and John were on the radar of senior management teams before, as was towering target man Shane O’Keeffe, Blackrock’s hurlers have been far more prominent at Cork underage level.

The spotlight is currently on Alan Connolly after top-scoring in the championship overall and picking up the TG4 man of the match in the final. His overall tally of 5-52 was incredibly consistent from placed balls and 5-9 of his total was from play.

Alan Connolly is challenged by Adam Lynch. Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Alan Connolly is challenged by Adam Lynch. Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

With a good hand and real pace, he was a handful for every team, especially when they had the likes of the O’Keeffes, John O’Sullivan, Robbie Cotter, Tadhg Deasy, Ciarán Cormac and Tadhg Deasy to contend with as well.

It must be remembered though, that Connolly is just 19. He was a Cork minor two years ago but since that grade is now U17, it’ll not an ideal barometer. 

Assuming the All-Ireland U20 series goes ahead, Connolly will have another stage to audition on, though with Blarney duo Shane Barrett and Pádraig Power, Jack Cahalane, Shane O’Regan, Brian Roche, Seán Twomey, Tommy O’Connell and more in Pat Ryan’s squad the competition even there will be fierce.

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