THE last decade has been a fruitful one for Duhallow sides in the county junior A football championship.
Kanturk’s win in 2011 was the first since Kiskeam went all the way in 2002 but in the wake of that triumph, there were wins for Rockchapel, Millstreet, Knocknagree and Dromtarriffe. In the 2020 final, Boherbue were hoping to add themselves to that list they were outclassed in the county final – played on August 7, 2021 – by Iveleary.
There was no disgrace in that as Iveleary would show themselves to be well capable of mixing it at intermediate A level, but, if Boherbue – winners of the last four Duhallow championships – were to respond in the way they wanted, they had to go back to square one and face back into a divisional campaign just a month after that loss.
September 4 saw them back in action in the Castlecor Potatoes Duhallow JAFC, taking on Lyre in a quarter-final in Kanturk and there was probably a sense of letting off steam against the unfortunate Lyre, with Boherbue winning by 3-27 to 0-4 as Adrian Murphy, Dan Sheehan and Jack Daly were among the scorers.
Having received a walkover from Kiskeam, Boherbue progressed to the semi-final stage, allowing them a lay-off before the mid-October meeting with Castlemagner in Glantane. While that was a closer affair than the opener, Boherbue still prevailed in a comfortable fashion.
The final score was 2-13 to 2-4 in the defending champions’ favour, despite suffering a red card. While Castlemagner had the boost of an early Danny Linehan goal, Boherbue responded instantaneously through Denis McCarthy and Jerry O’Sullivan raised another green flag in the second half.
It meant that, as in 2020, Cullen would oppose Boherbue in the divisional final as they sought to create history by achieving the first five-in-a-row. It was a tense battle between the neighbouring clubs in Knocknagree on October 30. Cullen, without a Duhallow title since 2005, had lost to Boherbue by 15 points in the 2020 renewal but, under the tutelage of former Kerry star Johnny Crowley, they showed a vast improvement and scored the game’s first four points.
Boherbue got a great boost as Alan O’Connor scored a goal after the water break but, when Aaron Nolan netted for Cullen, they led by 1-6 to 1-2 at half-time. The had only reduced slightly by the second water break, 1-8 to 1-5, but O’Connor’s second brought them level and crucial points from Bryan Herlihy and Denis McCarthy ensured that they won by 2-9 to 1-10.
Nine days later in Páirc Uí Rinn, Aghinagh provided the opposition in the county quarter-finals, though the Muskerry champions were depleted due to a variety of reasons and Boherbue eased to a 4-14 to 0-7 victory, with goals from Gerry O’Sullivan, Liam Moynihan, Dan Sheehan and John Corkery.
Things would be a lot tougher as Boherbue sought to secure their place in a second straight final, against Urhan in Cloughduv on November 16. While points from Liam Moynihan, Denis McCarthy and Ross O’Connor gave Boherbue an early advantage as Niall Murphy, Gerry O’Sullivan, Kevin Cremin and Jerry O’Connor all impressed, Urhan battled back to parity by half-time, 0-5 each the score as the sides retired.
On the resumption, Gerry O’Sullivan set up Jerry O’Connor for what would ultimately prove to be a decisive goal. Though Urhan stayed with them, Boherbue were able to edge it, O’Connor landing the winning score from a free as they won by 1-9 to 0-11. They were back in the decider, up against first-time finalists in Ballinhassig, who had seen off Tadhg Mac Cárthaighs and Douglas after emerging from Carrigdhoun.
Ballinhassig had been eliminated from the PIHC by the time the JAFC final came around on Saturday, November 28 in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Unfortunately for them, there was to be more disappointment but they played their part in a cracker as Boherbue atoned for their defeat 16 weeks earlier.
Alan O’Connor’s sixth-minute goal made it 1-1 to 0-1 and settled Boherbue. With the respective free-takers, Boherbue’s Denis McCarthy and Ballinhassig’s Diarmuid O’Sullivan, both on form, it was 1-3 to 0-4 at the first water break. Boherbue weren’t as fluid in the second quarter and, after a Ballinhassig point by Darren Delea, they won a penalty when Brian Lynch’s run was illegally halted and O’Sullivan fired home from the spot to level at 1-5 each by half-time.
Moments into the second half, though, Boherbue had a penalty of their own and Jerry O’Connor did the needful to restore their advantage. When McCarthy added a point, they were four ahead at the second water break and, while Eddie Finn scored a second Ballinhassig goal on the resumption, McCarthy replied in kind for a 3-7 to 2-6 lead.
Though Ballinhassig came back to within a goal, they would not come closer and Boherbue claimed the cup to exorcise their recent bad memories and add another name to the list of recent Duhallow champions.