Knocknagree edge out Gabriel Rangers after a classic football final

Knocknagree edge out Gabriel Rangers after a classic football final

Knocknagree's Anthony O'Conor celebrates his goal against Gabriel Rangers. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Knocknagree 2-10 Gabriel Rangers 1-11

WHAT a Cork intermediate championship final this turned out to be. 

A massively enjoyable open game of football concluding with Knocknagree captain Gary O’Connor proudly accepting the John ‘Lock’ O’Sullivan Cup. Another incredible journey for the Duhallow club in Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday.

From Cork, Munster and All-Ireland junior champions in 2017/2018, John Fintan Daly’s men stepped up again in front of a crowd of 1,365. 

While they started slowly and battling Gabriel Rangers did the late running, Knocknagree’s wonderful record of only one knock-out championship defeat (St Finbarr’s, 2018) in three years remains intact.

Nothing short of an all-out effort was required because this was a tough test. In spite of being nine points clear, they were reeled in by the Ballydehob and Schull outfit who struck an unanswered 1-4 in a hectic finish.

The Carbery men will regret two missed penalties. But in Patrick Doyle, they came up against a goalkeeper who proved unbeatable. In the first half, he dived to his left to save from Mark Cronin and in the second half he dived to his right to deny Eddie Goggin.

Definitely notable turning points.

Gabriel Rangers enjoyed a great start to move 0-4 to 0-2 up after 11 minutes. They kicked quality points from Sean Kelleher and Goggin, while Liam Hegarty made a couple of vital interceptions in defence. A pass from Cronin went astray too when maybe a goal was within their grasp.

Once the experienced Anthony O’Connor landed his third free, the scores started to flow more freely for Knocknagree. County star Eoghan McSweeney sent over two beauties and in the 24th minute they took the lead 0-5 to 0-4. They came near to a goal when Donagh Moynihan’s effort crashed off the crossbar.

The let off spurred Gabriel Rangers on, and within a minute Jordy O’Brien won a penalty. What followed was a crucial save from Doyle as Knocknagree got a goal of their own a couple of minutes later, good work by Fintan O’Connor ended with the ball fisted to the net by McSweeney.

Gabriel Rangers custodian Darren O’Mahony needed to be at his best to prevent a second Knocknagree green flag. Anthony O’Connor’s fifth point leaving them 1-7 to 0-4 up at half time.

Gabriel Rangers took the fight to Knocknagree straight from the restart. Chris Moynihan clipped over a point and Goggin was fouled for a penalty. This time it was Goggin stood in front of Doyle, but once more, no joy.

Knocknagree took control. Points from John Fintan Daly (junior), McSweeney and Anthony O’Connor pushed out the lead. Then came, what appeared to be the killer blow, when Anthony O’Connor scored a brilliant individual goal in the 51st minute, 2-10 to 0-7.

Gabriel Rangers never, ever gave up.

Moynihan and Kelleher raised white flags, and when Goggin netted three minutes from time after a fantastic fetch from a Cronin delivery, they were closing in. Kelleher added two impeccably struck frees to make it a two-point match.

Now, deep in the four minutes of additional time, and Knocknagree down to 14 men after corner-back Daniel O’Mahony got a second yellow, they had to dig deep, very deep.

That they did.

Both teams are up in the Premier grade in 2020 and on this display, we can expect to see plenty more from them in the new season.

Scorers for Knocknagree: A O’Connor 1-6 (0-5 f), E McSweeney 1-3, J F Daly 0-1.

Gabriel Rangers: S Kelleher 0-6 (0-3 f, 0-1 45), E Goggin 1-2 (0-1 f), C Moynihan 0-2, J O’Brien 0-1.

KNOCKNAGREE: P Doyle; D O’Mahony, M Doyle, G O’Connor (c); D Cooper, K Buckley, M Mahoney; P Collins, D Moynihan; M Dilworth, E McSweeney, F O’Connor; Denis O’Connor, J F Daly, A O’Connor.

Subs: J Dennehy for Denis O’Connor (33), David O’Connor for D Moynihan (52), G Looney for M Dilworth (57).

GABRIELS: D O’Mahony; L Hegarty, D Roycroft, K O’Callaghan; R Moynihan, G O’Callaghan (c), D McSweeney; S Walden, S Kelleher; C Moynihan, P Nolan, F Hurley; M Cronin, E Goggin, J O’Brien.

Subs: K Roycroft for P Nolan (36), J Donegan for D Roycroft (47), R Hurley for F Hurley (49).

Referee: Cormac Dineen (Douglas).

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