LAST YEAR saw significant disruption to sporting events and in East Cork this impacted on local GAA but thankfully the Michael O’Connor Motor Factors JAFC and the East Cork Oil JAHC were completed.
The football championship was all about the Magpies, who landed their 13th title.
Everyone was speaking about Midleton before, during and after the championship as a brilliant football team who would take all the stopping and for a club devoted to hurling 2020 was a bright year for Midleton football who lived up to the favourites tag throughout the championship.
Despite one very close scare in Shanagarry Midleton were very impressive. They started off their Jim Ryan Cup journey against Cloyne in Cloyne on an evening where Midleton were coasting to victory until an injury held up play as a player could not be moved and the lengthy time it took the ambulance to get to the pitch, the was abandoned.
A week later and Midleton were back in Cloyne and the same result applied as the men in black and white were excellent winning the match by 3-12 to 3-5 to progress into the next round where they would meet multi-time Jim Ryan Cup winners Glenbower Rovers.
What was unusual about the day was that the wind was blowing strongly towards the sea and Midleton had it at their backs in the first half.
Midleton made the most of the conditions and had a significant 10-point lead at half time following some great Cormac Beausang points and a brace of Garran Manley goals.
You would think that this was a mountain for Glenbower Rovers to climb, but the Killeagh men showed incredible spirit and fought back to give the Midleton side a really tough test and Glenbower Rovers came within inches of levelling the match in injury time following some great play from Johnny O’Connor, Kieran Lane and Daniel Walsh.
Midleton held out, took a huge breath of relief and a step closer to football heaven in East Cork and now the Magpies had one hand on the Jim Ryan cup and it was going to take something special to release the grip.
In the East Cork JAFC semi-final, Midleton were up against another club with a very strong football pedigree, Cobh.
This was an annihilation with Midleton winning the match by fourteen points with a winning scoreline of 4-8 to 0-06 and they looked a completely different class to their opponents with standout performances from Luke O’Farrell and Seamus O'Farrell on a day when Cobh just didn’t perform at all.
Cobh had defeated Lisgoold in the quarter-final and expectations were high going into the semi-final, but the sheer domination by Midleton in this game quickly put those anticipations to bed.
In the other semi-final, Carrigtwohill overcame Youghal by the narrowest of margins in a thriller: 2-15 to 2-14.
Everyone was wondering could Carrigtwohill put it up to Midleton in a final where the two sides that normally would be completely immersed in Hurling rivalry would now have to contend with the big ball.
The final was again a master class of football by Midleton who had shown all the way through the East Cork JAFC that they were a class above everyone else in defence and attack and it was as one-sided a final as you could get with Midleton winning out by 12 points, 4-9 to 0-9.
Midleton dominated a very decent Carrigtwohill side from the start until the final whistle. Two early scores from Luke O’Farrell and Garran Manley set the early trend for the Magpies who looked like reproducing a replica of their semi-final performance against Cobh.
The dominance continued and during the first half Midleton would continue their goal fest with two in the goals from Eoin Moloney and a Jay Hogan own goal did the damage in a half where Gosnell converted four frees for Carrigtwohill who trailed by seven points at the break and in truth the match was over and the cup was on its way to Midleton.
The second half was dominated again by Midleton with goals from Sean O’Meara and Ian Kenefick and they outscored their opponents too in a clash that never took off due to the winners' control.
When the final whistle went the celebrations began in what was a very strange atmosphere with no supporters allowed into the game, but the way Midleton saw off their opponents was just incredible and showed that all the pre-championship hype was justified.
Not to end on a sour note, but the East Cork football championship that originally was set to have groups for the first time in a brand new format had to be re-arranged to knockout.
The withdrawal of clubs, including Carraig na bhFear in the quarter-final was very disappointing.
Regardless, with the exception of Glenbower Rovers, no club could touch Midleton in any case.