St Colman's work-rate is matched by their clinical finishing in gritty minor victory

St Colman's work-rate is matched by their clinical finishing in gritty minor victory

St Colman's mentor Donal Óg Cusack celebrates after defeating Kanturk in the Rebel Óg Premier 2 Minor Hurling final at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

FEROCIOUS work-rate, self-belief and a handful of brilliant scores swung an absolutely gripping Premier 2 Minor Hurling final at Páirc Uí Rinn the way of St Colman's.

Kanturk were the hottest of favourites coming in. 

While both teams had come through their campaigns unbeaten, the Duhallow unit had hit six goals in the group stages and another five against Kiltha Óg in the semi-final. In Brian O'Sullivan, Colin Walsh, Tommy Walsh and Alan Walsh, they'd in-form young hurlers with Cork underage experience.

As it turned out, goals were decisive, but the two green flags were raised to Colman's, in the opening nine minutes thanks to Craig O'Driscoll and Noel Cahill. It gave the underdogs a 2-2 to no score lead against a Kanturk side who had 18 wides by the final whistle.

There can be no doubting the character of these young hurlers. They'd played for three-quarters of the semi-final against Newcestown with 14 players. As a consequence, Pierce Cummins missed out through suspension, though Ruairí Cummins returned to answer the call after three months out with a broken shoulder.

St Colman's Daniel Cronin and Diarmuid Byrne celebrate. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
St Colman's Daniel Cronin and Diarmuid Byrne celebrate. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

With mentors like Donal Óg Cusack and Killian Cronin on the sideline, you'd expect manic intensity and clever use of the sliotar. Both were key factors.

Granted, Kanturk full-forward Alan Walsh should have goaled in the opening exchanges while keeper Dylan Costine was forced into a smart second-half save. Yet by the same token, Grantas Bucinskas had denied the East Cork outfit a third goal in the first half. Costine, incidentally, has goalkeeping DNA in his blood, as he's a nephew of Donal Óg.

The Cloyne and Russell Rovers amalgamation's defensive work was heroic at times. Adam Sherlock, with the assistance of sweeper Éanna Motherway, a Cork minor in 2019, frustrated Alan Walsh and there was minimal space for Kanturk to create clearcut chances around the D. 

Kanturk's Oisin O'Connor is hounded by St Colman's Adam O'Lomasney and Éanna Motherway. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Kanturk's Oisin O'Connor is hounded by St Colman's Adam O'Lomasney and Éanna Motherway. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

All of their teak-tough rearguard cleared ball after ball, especially in the second half.

Colin Walsh rifled over 0-4 from play but Colman's didn't allow the powerful number 11 push through for the goal his team badly needed. Brian O'Sullivan clipped over 0-7, six from frees, but even when dominating possession the best Kanturk managed was to squeeze one ahead.

Noel Cahill and Conor Cahill were clinical at the other end, to the tune of 1-5 and 0-3 from play respectively. And though a relatively low tally of 2-11 was enough for Colman's to claim the cup, they only got one free within range, which Daniel Cronin nervelessly converted in the tense closing stages.

Such efficiency and ruthlessness got its just reward, a second P2 title since 2015.

That season Josh Beausang was the marquee Colman's forward, and they pipped a Darragh Fitzgibbon-driven Charleville in the decider. This season 10 Cloyne and five Russell Rovers teenagers started the final, so both clubs will benefit from the gritty triumph.

The common denominator was Cusack in the coaching set-up. His next task is as manager of this year's Cork minors when the inter-county season resumes in October.  

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