Cloughduv 2-12 Russell Rovers 0-14
CLOUGHDUV are an intermediate hurling club again after finally breaking free of the junior grade in last Saturday night’s Cork County final at Páirc Uí Rinn.
Three times in the not-too-distant past they have endured the heartbreak of being the losing team in a final, but this time they successfully completed the mission against a Russell Rovers unit that made them battle all the way to the finish line.
But it was Cloughduv’s night, and few will argue with their right to be elevated to the higher grade next season. They were the better-balanced side on a bitterly cold night on the Boreenmanna Road, they were miserly in defence, they got their tactics right, and they scored the game’s brace of goals.
Their battling qualities were questioned too because nothing came easily here and they had to earn the right to the championship crown.
This is a hard championship. It’s hard graft to surmount the many obstacles that have to be negotiated along a difficult route, and you must be prepared to dig in there when things might not be going your way.
Cloughduv got a dream start here, a goal inside 30 seconds from Joe Ryan following a delivery by Brian Ahern.
They secured a point shortly afterwards from star man Brian Verling after Luke Duggan-Murray had opened Russell Rovers account.
That left it at 1-1 to 0-1 after four minutes and the Mid Cork team then subsequently went over 20 minutes before they registered again.
The East Cork champions took the game by the scruff of the neck and the next seven points belonged to them.
Daniel Moynihan, Kevin Moynihan, Josh Beausang, Duggan-Murray, and Bud Hartnett all split the sticks as they forged into a four-point lead.
Worrying times for Cloughduv but after that barren spell without a score, they had the capacity to respond positively. They shot a few poor wides but then they finally found their rhythm again with Brian Verling and James Moynihan converting points.
And that man Verling then turned provider in the 27th minute when he set up Andrew Cronin for their second goal. From being four in arrears, they were now two in front and they posted the last three points of the half, all from the stick of Verling to lead at the break by four points, 2-7 to 0-9.
When the sides came back out, Beausang pointed another free for the men from Shanagarry but Verling cancelled that out at the other end with two more of his own.
The threat of Beausang and Harnett for the Rovers had been well heralded in advance, but they were well contained here by a Cloughduv defence that had Ger Ahern, Dave O’Leary and Eoghan Clifford in top form.
However, Cloughduv could never get that far in front of their opponents and with 12 minutes remaining, the margin between the sides was just three points after Fintan Murray has pointed for the Rovers.
Brian Ahern and Verling moved Cloughduv five clear again as the clock started to count down. Beausang pointed another free but that was the final scoring act of the game.
In the few minutes of time added on, the East Cork men fought valiantly for the goal that might set up a dramatic finish but it was not to be, the Cloughduv defence held firm and all the glory was theirs.
All the pain and grief of losing all those previous finals was finally erased. Cloughduv are standing tall again.
Scorers for Cloughduv: B Verling 0-10 (0-7 f, 0-1 65), J Ryan and A Cronin 1-0 each, B Ahern and J Moynihan 0-1 each.
Russell Rovers: J Beausang 0-7 f, L Duggan Murray, D Moynihan 0-2 each, F Murray, B Hartnett, K Moynihan 0-1 each.
CLOUGHDUV: J Buckley; P Buckley, E Clifford, A Twomey; G Ahern, D O’Leary, B Ahern, M Verling (Capt), A Murphy; M Walsh, A Cronin, D Corkery; B Verling, J Ryan, J Moynihan.
Subs: K Barry Murphy for D Corkery (45), D Sullivan for A Cronin (46), S Curzon for J Moynihan (59), L Long for D O’Leary (63).
RUSSELL ROVERS: I Smiddy; E O’Sullivan, C Ruddy, K O’Brien; J P Ivers, J Kennefick, P Lane; K Walsh, L Duggan Murray; E McGrath, J McGrath, D Moynihan (Capt); K Moynihan, B Hartnett, J Beausang.
Subs: D O’Brien for K O’Brien (half-time), F Murray for J McGrath (half-time), B Whelehan for E McGrath (38).
Referee: Ian McCarthy (Bandon).