Russell Rovers 2-13 St Mary’s 0-11
A DAY for the ages for a small club in East Cork as Russell Rovers from Shanagarry are crowned Munster Junior Hurling winners at the Fraher Field in Dungarvan.
Not that long ago the club did not look to have a rosy future ahead of it but it has risen magnificently in a short span of time and to be now in a position to call themselves Munster champions is the stuff that dreams are made of.
It was a test of endurance here against the Waterford champions, a couple of seasons rolled into one over the hour and it required abundant character to come away with a richly deserved win.
This is the time of the year when the men are separated from the boys and every one of these Russell Rovers hurlers deserve immense credit.
They final scoreline might suggest that they had things easy enough here but it wasn’t until the going got really tough in the final quarter that they got clear of their dogged rivals. Defensively, they conceded just six points from open play and that was all down to players putting their bodies on the line from goalkeeper Ross Walsh out.
All six defenders in front of him were stern in their resistance while in attack they had Josh Beausang and Bud Hartnett again making significant contributions.
Both delivered on the goals front, Beausang after just a minute after he was set up by Hartnett and the latter putting the game out of reach of the opposition when he clinically finished in the 52nd minute Jack McGrath tacked on a few important points as well on a day when you really had to earn your scores.
St Mary’s were largely dependent on Eoghan Kearns to secure their scores from the placed ball although he missed a few important ones too before the break.
Russell Rovers played against a strong wind in the opening half but were level at the interval after putting up a tally of 1-4 against 0-7 for St Mary’s The odds certainly favoured the East Cork team at that juncture but there was still everything to play for coming down the home stretch.
St Mary’s did briefly lead after half-time when midfielder Kevin Sheehan pointed but two Beausang points had Russell Rovers in front again.
And the same player rifled over a beauty on the 45th minute from a sideline puck.
A Hartnett point put Russell Rovers four points to the good after 48 minutes and a few minutes later arrived the game’s defining score when he finished exquisitely after being set up by Kieran Walsh.
It was now a seven- point game and St Mary’s required something dramatic to happen very quickly.
JJ Coffey got a point back for them after 54 minutes but it was goals that were required now.
And they didn’t arrive as the Russell Rovers defence battened down the hatches with the likes of Eoghan O’Sullivan and John Paul Ivers leading by example.
Into the final few minutes we went and it was that young man Beausang who signed, sealed and delivered the victory with a couple of more points.
His efforts throughout from the placed ball were impeccable as they joined the illustrious list of Munster champions.
Conditions in the Fraher Field were far from easy but this is now a battle-hardened Rovers side, driven on by the pain of defeat in last year’s county final by Cloughduv.
Now they have succeeded the Mid Corkmen as provincial champions and there’s an All-Ireland campaign to come next month.
On the evidence presented here, they are going to be entering it from a very good place.
This was the day that they created their own unique bit of history and they’ll enjoy the Christmas in Shanagarry, Ballycotton and Churchtown South.
They did Cork very proud here.
Scorers for Russell Rovers: J Beausang 1-8 (0-6 f, 0-1 sl), B Hartnett 1-1, J McGrath 0-2, K Moynihan and K Walsh 0-1 each.
St Mary’s: E Kearns 0-7 (0-6 f), D Tobin, S Fitzpatrick, K Sheehan and JJ Coffey 0-1 each.
RUSSELL ROVERS: R Walsh’ K O’Brien, E O’Sullivan, P Lane; J Kennifick, JP Ivers, C Ruddy; K Tattan, K Walsh; D Moynihan (c), L Duggan Murray, J McGrath; B Hartnett, K Moynihan, J Beausang.
Subs: D O’Brien for J McGrath (56), E McGrath for K Walsh (62), K Ivers for C Ruddy (63), J Ahern for P Lane (66).
ST MARY'S: JP Fitzpatrick; C Tobin, D Coffey (Joint-Capt), R Gleeson; A Kearney, B McGourty (Joint-Capt), D Tobin; S Fitzpatrick, K Sheehan; J Power, J Skehan, E Kearns; S Coffey, M Kearns, J Sheehan.
Subs: JJ Coffey for S Coffey (20), J O’Shea for J Skehan (half-time), C Geary for J Sheehan (53), G Hallinan for J Power (63).
Referee: John O’Halloran (Limerick).