Fr O’Neill’s 3-23 Kilworth 1-20
THERE is no substitute for class and Fr O’Neill’s had it in abundance last Saturday night as they added another chapter to their remarkable success story.
A couple of years ago it was the Cork County IHC, last year it was the U21 title and now the list has been embellished considerably after they proved themselves far superior to Kilworth in the PIHC final.
Now they are going up to play senior hurling next season and on the evidence presented here they are more than capable of further impact.
Kilworth battled gallantly until the last whistle but the balance throughout the field and the attacking prowess of O’Neill’s was too much for them.
The Ladysbridge-Ballymacoda outfit have been favourites for this competition from the outset and they certainly justified that tag here.
Save for the opening 10 minutes or so when Kilworth shaded the issue and were ahead by a couple of points on the board, O’Neill’s ruled the roost and they had warriors all over the pitch.
Let’s start with the four Millericks, Mike, Ger, Tom and Joe, all of them played huge roles in this triumph with Ger illustrating why he will be a Cork player going forward.
Dan Harrington marshalled the defence superbly, Kevin O’Sullivan hurled well throughout and up front you had Deccie Dalton and Billy Dunne teasing and tormenting the Kilworth defence.
Between them they shot the lights out with a contribution of 2-14 between them, Dalton simply unstoppable.
Paudie McMahon clung a great goal, that great veteran Eoin Conway played his part one more time and as a unit they were majestic.
Kilworth were heavily reliant on Noel McNamara’s points from placed balls while Eoin Carey had a fine night as well.
McNamara, Jamie Sheehan and Carey had Kilworth ahead by 0-5 to 0-3 after 10 minutes but as a result of Dalton being hauled down, O’Neills were awarded a penalty and the number 14 made no mistake.
For the next 15 minutes it was all O’Neill’s with Joe Millerick splitting the sticks with a couple of beauties, Kevin O’Sullivan, McMahon and Conway doing likewise and after 27 minutes it was 1-12 to 0-6.
But a Kilworth goal shortly afterwards from Eoin Carey, which was very well executed changed things a little before the break.
However, O’Neill’s were comfortable going in at 1-14 to 1-8.
And when they came back out the game’s defining moment arrived when Dunne showed his class when setting up McMahon to leave it at 2-14 to 1-8.
Thereafter it was really a damage limitation exercise for Kilworth but they drove on with points from Brian Tobin, Noel McNamara and Will Condon.
The margin was back to six again but O’Neill’s struck for goal number three when Dunne fired home another wonderful solo goal.
He added a point shortly afterwards before McNamara drilled over a hat-trick pf Kilworth points.
But they desperately needed a goal to put the frighteners on O’Neill’s but the excellent East Corkmen’s defence held firm.
Dalton pointed a free, Carey got a few for Kilworth before Dunne again added to his tally.
As we entered the game’s dying embers it was clearly obvious that the trophy was heading East.
Mark O’Keeffe sent over another O’Neill’s point and Cillian Broderick added his name to the list after being introduced as a substitute.
Maybe if Kilworth had managed a second-half goal things might have been a bit different but they were up against a team that had been building towards this moment for quite some time.
In Dalton and Dunne they had two class acts up front and this is a team with very few if any weak links.
They reaped a rich reward here on a night that was ideal for hurling on a pitch that was in superb condition.
All the hard toil in Ahavine was all worth it and let there be no doubt about it, this is an O’Neill’s team that you will be hearing from again as they graduated with first-class honours here.
Scorers for Fr O’Neill’s: D Dalton 1-11 (0-5 f, 0-1 65, 1-0 pen), B Dunne 1-3, P McMahon 1-1, J Millerick 0-3, K O’Sullivan 0-2, E Conway, C Broderick, M O’Keeffe 0-1.
Kilworth: N McNamara 0-11 (0-10 f), E Carey 1-4 (0-2 f), L Whelan, J Sheehan, E McGrath, B Tobin, W Condon 0-1 each.
FR O’NEILL’S: C Sloane; M Millerick, Adrian Kenneally, G Millerick; J Barry, D Harrington, T Millerick; J Millerick, K O’Sullivan; M O’Keeffe, R Cullinane, P McMahon; E Conway, D Dalton, B Dunne.
Subs: J Hankard for Conway (45), P Butler for Barry (48), Adam Keneally for Adrian Kenneally 48), L O’Driscoll for J Millerick (55), C Broderick for O’Sullivan (59).
KILWORTH: K Walsh; M McNamara, K Lane, M O’Connor; N Byrne, D Twomey, A O’Hara; B Tobin, E McGrath; S Keane, L Whelan, E Carey; J Sheehan, N McNamara, W Condon.
Subs: P Moakley for Keane (35), T Twomey for O’Connor (40), N O’Brien for Condon (55).
Referee: S Stokes (Tullylease).