Classy Cloughduv are Munster hurling champs

Classy Cloughduv are Munster hurling champs
Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Cloughduv 0-17 Ballinameela 0-11

THE winter just gets shorter and better for Cloughduv, after this superb victory in the Munster club JHC final in Mallow yesterday.

On their maiden voyage in this championship, the Cork County champions were fully deserving of the new title bestowed on them here and they will be worthy Cork and provincial representatives in the All-Ireland series after the Christmas break.

Waterford clubs have had a good record in this competition in recent years, but Ballinameela were unable to add to that, mainly because they came up against a well-balanced and well-organised Clougduv unit.

The mid-Cork and county champions defended heroically, particularly in the second-half, and they secured the scores that left Ballinameela chasing the game after half-time.

Playing against a very substantial wind in the opening half, they went to the dressing rooms two points to the good, after Ballinameela had shot themselves in the foot by hitting nine wides, some of them downright poor.

Two scorable frees were missed and, as a result, Cloughduv were able to come back out and build on the platform that they had constructed. They won with ease in the end.

Mark Verling, his brother, Brian, James Moynihan, and Mark Walsh were all on the board in the opening 30 minutes, as Ballinameela’s efforts drifted left and right of the sticks.

The Phelan brothers, Brendan and Brian, and Jim and Paul Curran secured their paltry return in that half and it was clearly obvious, at that juncture, that the advantage now firmly lay with Cloughduv.

Cloughduv's Brian Ahern clears from Ballinameela's Michael Culloo. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Cloughduv's Brian Ahern clears from Ballinameela's Michael Culloo. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Eight minutes into the second-half, they had built on their half-time advantage, with Andrew Cronin and Brian Verling tacking on a quartet of points between them, Verling with three-in-a-row.

Brendan Phelan got a point back for the Waterford side, but young Mark Walsh added another one for Cloughduv, as did team captain, Mark Verling, who came through a fitness test on Thursday night.

It was all Cloughduv now and, defensively, Brian Ahern, Eoghan Clifford, and Dave O’Leary stood firm, as did all the backs.

Ballinameela desperately required a goal to get them back into the equation, but it wasn’t to be, as Cloughduv battened down the hatches.

Joe Ryan got in on the scoring act for the mid-Cork side, before David Phelan pointed for Ballinameela.

Some of the hooking and blocking from Cloughduv was outstanding and as the contest petered out to its inevitable conclusion, they proved what a really good side they are.

Brian Verling, who ended the day with 0-9 attached to his name, pointed another free, before Ballinameela had the final say of a fine afternoon in north Cork, a Ballinameela point at the death.

It was far too little and far too late, and, over the course of the hour, they managed just six points from open play.

Maybe if they had been more accurate with their final deliveries in the opening half, things might have been a bit closer. But it was Cloughduv’s day, Cloughduv’s year, and they were head and shoulders above everybody else in Cork and outside the county.

Five or six of the side will be back action in an under-21 game on Wednesday night, against Fermoy, and, in the new year, they will regroup, before taking on the Kilkenny and Leinster champions, Dunammaggin, in the All-Ireland semi-final. That’s for another day. Here, they carried the Cork flag with aplomb.

Cloughduv players Brian Ahern and Mark Verling celebrate after defeating Ballinameela. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Cloughduv players Brian Ahern and Mark Verling celebrate after defeating Ballinameela. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Scorers for Cloughduv: B Verling (0-9, 0-7 frees), M Walsh, M Verling and J Ryan (0-2 each), J Moynihan and A Cronin (0-1 each).

Ballinameela: Brendan Phelan (0-6, 0-5 frees), P Curran (0-2), J Curran and Brian Phelan (0-1 each).

CLOUGHDUV: J Buckley; P Buckley, E Clifford, S Curzon; G Ahern, B Ahern, D O’Leary; M Walsh, A Murphy; M Verling (c), A Cronin, D Corkery; B Verling, J Ryan, J Moynihan.

Subs: G Egan for D Corkery (34), D Sullivan for G Ahern (43), A Twomey for S Curzon (47), K Barry Murphy for A Cronin (53), K Walsh for D O’Leary (60).

BALLINAMEELA: D Looby; R Shine (c), M Shine, K Looby; K Phelan, D Phelan, L Looby; P Curran, T Curran; L O’Brien, Brian Phelan, C Culloo; C Buckley, Brendan Phelan, J Curran.

Subs: M Culloo for C Buckley (40), E Walsh for C Culloo (42), M Phelan for J Curran (52).

Referee: Joe Mullins (Clare).

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