Lisgoold hurlers set sights on county glory after East Cork breakthrough

Lisgoold hurlers set sights on county glory after East Cork breakthrough

Imokilly GAA chairman Donal O’Keeffe presents the East Cork JAHC trophy to Lisgoold captain John Cronin following his team’s victory over Carraig na bhFear in Midleton. Picture: Howard Crowdy

THEY say that everything comes to those who wait for it.

Well, that was very much the case for the junior hurlers of Lisgoold who last Sunday afternoon claimed the East Cork JAHC for the very first time in their history.

On a number of occasions in the past, they had knocked on the door of this great competition but never gained entry.

But that all changed last Sunday and the proud people of this great club had, at last, the Jamesy Kelleher Cup in their possession.

The East Cork junior hurling championship has changed much in recent times; quite a few of the participants are the second teams from a club and a number of them have gone on to win the county and elevated themselves to the intermediate grade.

But it still remains an immensely difficult competition to negotiate with a hardcore of junior clubs battling for the big prize.

The Lisgoold club has made considerable strides in the past number of years, a growing membership and a club complex that is second to none.

But the icing on the cake was always going to be winning the East Cork title and so it has come to pass.

The only negative on a great occasion last Sunday was that so few of their loyal supporters could get into the game. But, by all accounts, a lot of them improvised, securing ladders and other viewing means to watch the big match against Carraig na bhFear.

Some of them watched the game from the balconies of apartments across from the pitch.

That’s what you do in these strangest of times.

When the final whistle sounded, Lisgoold were ahead by six points, 0-17 to 0-11, and the long and impatient wait in the wilderness was finally at an end.

Club chairman Noel Connery spoke to The Echo and outlined what it all meant.

“Look, it was a fantastic victory, your first East Cork is always going to be extra special.

“We were, I suppose, building up towards this day, being in contention in recent years but never quite getting there.

“East Cork titles are still hard to win, you have four or five clubs who would be kind of on an equal footing, nothing much between them. We had a tough enough passage this year, we had to get past Cobh, Sars, St Ita’s, and Carraig na bhFear last Sunday.”

Having no supporters present made the occasion a bit surreal, said Connery, but the players got on with it.

“They did and I suppose once the game starts you just get immersed in it and nothing else matters.

“The players have been great and we had a very good backroom team too. Ritchie Lewis and Trevor O’Keeffe coached the team, Gerry Ryan was the manager, and Eoin Hegarty and Noel Riordan were selectors plus Willie Ryan as our physio.

“We had a good blend to the team, John Cronin was a great captain and now he has an East Cork medal to go alongside his senior ones with Imokilly.

“John Cashman, Cathal Hickey, Liam O’Shea and all the rest of the lads certainly did us proud.”

And what about the journey back to the village?

“It was tremendous, everybody came out to welcome the team. We went back to the club first just to wind down and then we had a parade back down to the village.

“It was great, great for the older members of the club, people like John Joe Regan, he must have rang me a thousand times last week.

“This meant so much to everyone and prior to this, we had just one person in the club with an East Cork junior A medal. That was Noel Ryan and he won that with Castlemartyr a long time ago.

“Now that’s all changed.”

 And what happens next?

“We’ll drive on now. We will try and win the county championship. East Cork clubs have a very good record in recent times in the county championship, clubs like Castlemartyr, Dungourney, St Catherine’s, and Russell Rovers.

“We’d love to emulate them but we’ll enjoy this one first for a few days and it will be back training on Thursday night.”

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