St Catherine’s return from the junior ranks of hurling is a lesson for all clubs

St Catherine’s return from the junior ranks of hurling is a lesson for all clubs
St Catherine's captain Daniel Mangan raises the John Quirke Cup after defeating Brian Dillons. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

ST CATHERINE’S victory in the Cork County JHC final against Brian Dillons on Tuesday night was another illustration of the current strength of the game in East Cork.

That victory, added to the division’s triumph in the SHC and Aghada’s win in the county IHC has maintained the dominance of the region in the various competitions under the jurisdiction of the County Board.

St Catherine’s win was remarkable in many ways and it showed how a club can recover from a very heavy fall one year and climb back up the next.

One can easily recall the trouncing the Ballynoe club received at the hands of Sarsfields in last year’s East Cork final down in Youghal.

The very tame display of St Catherine’s against them suggested that they would not be challenging at the business end of the main campaign 12 months later.

Well, it’s history now that they came back from that heavy loss to win the divisional title a year later against Russell Rovers and then proceeded to make their mark in the county arena.

They had Russell Rovers for company again in the county semi-final and defeating the same opponent twice in the one season has often proved to be a bridge too far for a lot of teams.

But, again, Catherine’s did the business and found themselves in a county final.

And in that final on Tuesday night they came through a massive dogfight with Dillons, a Dillons team that found history repeating itself.

Four years ago they were in the final again and lost after a replay to Kildorrery.

So how did Catherine’s turn the ship around?

A new management team came on board, a very experienced one at that, former player Ian O’Connell, who soldiered between the sticks for many a long day at all levels, wore the manager’s bib.

Two former county senior medalists came along too, Seanie Farrell from Carrigtwohill and Sean Guiheen from Na Piarsaigh and that trio, with the players buying into the plan again, helped the ship on its way to a very safe harbour.

St Catherine’s is a proud club with a very rich heritage and both at administrative and playing level has produced some great clubmen.

The late Dan Hoare gave years of diligent service to the East Cork and Cork County Board and at provincial level too.

He was a hugely respected figure as was his brother Dave, who gave sterling service to the club and to the East Cork division.

John O’Mahony is another wonderful club man in that part of the world.

On the playing front, you had quality all over with Denis Walsh, Cathal Casey, Kieran Morrisson, Christy Clancy, the Sheehan’s and many more.

Now there’s a new set of heroes in Ballynoe and Conna and it will be a Winter of content in those great hurling homes.

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