Cork junior champions Russell Rovers are defeated at Croke Park

Cork junior champions Russell Rovers are defeated at Croke Park
Ross Walsh of Russell Rovers in action against Kieran Mooney of Conahy Shamrocks during the AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Junior Club Championship final between Russell Rovers and Conahy Shamrocks at Croke Park in Dublin. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Conahy Shamrocks 0-22 Russell Rovers 0-15

RUSSELL ROVERS suffered All-Ireland junior club hurling final heartache at the expense of an impressive Conahy Shamrocks in Croke Park on Saturday.

This capped a disappointing end to a previously flawless 2019/20 season for the East Cork outfit, which had seen them accumulating county and provincial championship successes for the first time in their history.

That said, there no shame in losing out to their formidable Kilkenny counterparts - for whom James Bergin and Kieran Mooney amassed a combined tally of 17 points.

James Bergin of Conahy Shamrocks is tackled by James Kennifick, left, and Paul Lane of Russell Rovers at Croke Park. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
James Bergin of Conahy Shamrocks is tackled by James Kennifick, left, and Paul Lane of Russell Rovers at Croke Park. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Given they had to wait until just 18 months ago for their first divisional triumph, they can now move forward into the intermediate ranks with great cause for optimism.

After the returning Josh Beausang uncharacteristically fired an opening minute free wide of the posts, Rovers fell behind to Donal Brennan and Eoin Cahill points.

Beausang eventually opened their account with an eye-catching score from play, only for Conahy to gradually gain control of the contest.

Inside duo Bill Murphy and Mooney raised white flags for the 2008 champions and while the lively Brian Hartnett responded in fine style, Conahy reeled off four points in succession through James Bergin (three) and Mooney.

Tom Phelan of Conahy Shamrocks gets past Kevin Tattan of Russell Rovers at Croke Park. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Tom Phelan of Conahy Shamrocks gets past Kevin Tattan of Russell Rovers at Croke Park. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Nevertheless, with Beausang very much to the fore, the Leesiders forced their way into the reckoning.

Following a superb effort by midfielder Kieran Walsh on the right-wing, the dynamic full-forward knocked over three consecutive frees to leave just two points between the sides.

However, Conahy has their own ace marksman in the shape of influential skipper Bergin.

He converted three placed balls in the space of five minutes to reinforce the authority of Paul Buggy’s charges.

Beausang halted this scoring sequence with a ’65’, but he was subsequently replaced after suffering a recurrence of the shoulder injury that ruled him out of the All-Ireland semi-final victory against Micheal Breathnach.

Although they were just four in arrears at the break (0-11 to 0-7), the withdrawal of such a talismanic figure was undoubtedly a set-back for Rovers. Consequently, Conahy sensed there was an opportunity to widen the gap even further on the resumption.

Despite the best endeavours of the Rovers rearguard, the twin threat of Mooney (two) and Bergin duly obliged with three unanswered points in as many minutes.

A brace of Luke Duggan Murray singles were cancelled out by Conahy strikes from Tom Phelan and Bergin, but Hartnett was later on cue to split the posts off a 40th-minute free. Hartnett assumed dead-ball duties in the absence of Beausang in the earlier round and once again proved himself to be an able deputy.

Daniel Moynihan of Russell Rovers in action against Darren Cuddihy of Conahy Shamrocks during the AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Junior Club Championship final at Croke Park. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Daniel Moynihan of Russell Rovers in action against Darren Cuddihy of Conahy Shamrocks during the AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Junior Club Championship final at Croke Park. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Substitute Daniel O’Brien and Hartnett posted additional points to provide Rovers with renewed hope, though a dramatic final-quarter fightback was ultimately a bridge too far.

The outstanding Bergin pushed into overdrive with a quickfire three-point salvo, while Donal Brennan was also on target for Conahy in a dominant spell.

To Rovers’ credit, they fought until the bitter end.

Hartnett, netminder Ross Walsh and captain Daniel Moynihan all added frees to ensure they emerged from GAA HQ with their heads held high.

Scorers for Conahy Shamrocks: James Bergin 0-13 (9f), Kieran Mooney 0-4, Donal Brennan 0-2, Eddie Delaney, Eoin Cahill, Bill Murphy 0-1 each.

Scorers for Russell Rovers: Josh Beausang 0-5 (3f, 1 ’65’), Brian Hartnett 0-4 (3f), Luke Duggan Murray 0-2, Ross Walsh (f), Daniel Moynihan (f), Kieran Walsh, Daniel O’Brien 0-1 each.

CONAHY SHAMROCKS: Padraic Delaney; Liam Cass, Davy Healy, Simon Callinan; Darren Cuddihy, Brian Healy, Eoin Carroll; Donal Brennan, Eddie Delaney; Eoin Cahill, John Mullan, Tom Phelan; James Bergin, Kieran Mooney, Bill Murphy.

Subs: Alan Healy for Cuddihy (48), Tom Rice for Cahill (60), Tom Nolan for Murphy (62).

RUSSELL ROVERS: Ross Walsh; Kevin O’Brien, Eoghan O’Sullivan, Paul Lane; Chris Ruddy, John Paul Ivers, James Kennifick; Kevin Tattan, Kieran Walsh; Jack McGrath, Luke Duggan Murray, Daniel Moynihan; Kevin Moynihan, Josh Beausang, Brian Hartnett.

Subs: Daniel O’Brien for Beausang (30+1).

Referee: Sean Stack (Dublin).

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