Cork clubs point to goals don't always win county finals

St Finbarr's, Newmarket and Iveleary won titles without finding the net in their games
Cork clubs point to goals don't always win county finals

5th December 2021.... Newmarket players celebrate after defeating Kanturk in the Bon Secours Cork PIFC final at Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

AND so the curtain drops on a memorable 2021 Bon Secours county football championship across all grades.

It was a different season in keeping with the Covid impacted lives inflicted on us all, notably that the campaigns began shortly after the 2020 edition had only just finished.

The feeling was that the championships were crammed into an inordinately short space of time, something that will change next year, when they start a month earlier once inter-county is done and dusted in July.

Three of the new champions, St Finbarr’s, in premier senior, Newmarket, in premier intermediate, and Iveleary, in intermediate A, have another common factor running through their respective finals.

None of the three managed to score a goal and yet still prevailed in contrasting circumstances, the ’Barr’s and Newmarket emerging one-point victors after Titanic battles while Iveleary showed why they were in a different class all year.

Mallow, who were crowned senior A winners, and Boherbue, the new junior champions, did find a way to score goals, a couple for Mallow and three for the Duhallow club.

And nothing should detract from those finals which were points-only affairs because the excitement levels in premier senior and premier intermediate rose to almost unbearable.

What the ’Barr’s showed en route to repeating their 2018 triumph was that there are countless ways of finding a path to winning.

Take their epic semi-final against Castlehaven in the game, not only of this year, but any year for that matter, as a prime example.

The rivals shared six goals in an ebb and flow affair that simply tore up the tactics book as the pair just went at it full belt before the city club held their nerve in the penalty shoot-out.

Compare that then to the final against Clonakilty, who came with a totally different script and forced the eventual champions to endure enough anxious moments to fill half a season before falling short by the minimum margin, 0-14 to 0-13.

And the buzz in Newmarket still hasn’t dipped following their Houdini-like escape in Sunday’s bewildering premier intermediate success against neighbours Kanturk.

Like Clon, Newmarket set out their stall from the start with a no-way-through approach for their opponents’ classy forwards by repeatedly filling gaps in defence via retreating players.

It worked a treat in the first-half as Kanturk struggled against massed ranks of opponents in the shooting zone and found themselves a couple down at the interval.

The second-half, though, was totally different as Kanturk switched Cork midfielder Paul Walsh from left half-forward, where he was tagging Newmarket captain TJ Brosnan, to partner cousin Aidan Walsh in the middle.

Colin Walsh was directed from full-forward to the wing in an attempt to get more involved on the ball and those changes, coupled with more physical tackling in defence, disrupted Newmarket big time.

Such was the affect that Kanturk kicked the opening four points on the resumption and held their opponents scoreless until Conor O’Keeffe’s 50th minute free.

Kanturk still held a 0-11 to 0-9 lead approaching the hour, when the tie changed once again, this time Newmarket somehow nailing the closing three points to complete an amazing comeback.

This defeat will sting Kanturk, who also lost the 2020 final to another neighbouring club, Knocknagree, back in August, but it shouldn’t detract from a memorable year all the same.

Their historic hurling exploits in becoming the first club from the north-west barony to join the elite in premier senior next season, which is only around the corner, will help shorten an already truncated winter.

The weather for Sunday’s double-bill was quite extraordinary for early December, mild, calm and dry, which helped the quality of football on display.

None more so than in the case of Iveleary, whose 0-20 to 0-7 victory over Mitchelstown, who suffered the same fate as Kanturk, typified their entire campaign.

And the Muskerry club won’t simply make up the numbers in the higher premier intermediate grade next season either.

Of course, it’s a big jump in class, physicality and overall standard, but Iveleary have shown that forwards like Chris og Jones and Cathal Vaughan will not be out of place.

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