THE curtain finally fell on the club hurling front last Saturday afternoon with the completion of the Junior B Championship.
It brought a conclusion to a hugely successful season in all the hurling grades where the fare on offer was very entertaining, giving further justification to the introduction of the group format.
Belgooly and Randal Óg had the distinction of putting the seal on the year when they squared up to each other in the county junior B decider.
Two small units in the very large pond that is the club scene in the county, but that does not dilute their contribution in any shape or form in the overall scheme of things.
The final was played in Páirc Uí Rinn with Belgooly seeking to win a second county title in a very short space of time. A few weeks earlier they took possession of the inter-divisional trophy, open to all clubs in the county.
In that final, they proved too strong for Newtownshandrum and celebrated appropriately.
However, their year’s work was not completed yet and very quickly the focus was on trying to achieve the double in the grade, adding the title for clubs whose first teams are junior B.
These types of finals, most times featuring clubs from rural areas, are hugely important to the communities involved; coming into the city to participate in a county final is a massive occasion for young and old alike.
Both clubs were very well represented in the stands, the blue and white of Belgooly and the green and gold of Randal Óg from the parish of Ballinacarriga in West Cork. It was a fine game, full of honest endeavour, both sides cheered on passionately by their supporters.
At half-time, the West Cork team held a slight advantage: 0-11 to 2-4. At that juncture, we seemed set for a fierce struggle.
But it was not to be as the men from the Carrigdhoun division justified their status as favourites and ran out convincing winners, 3-16 to 1-15. It was another illustration that ‘goals win games’.
Randal Óg did manage a consolation green flag right at the death, but it hardly mattered, another trophy was bound for Belgooly, the club that has its impressive headquarters just off the main Cork to Kinsale road.
Two of their three goals were delivered by Barry and Ruairí Dwyer, two former senior stars in the colours of neighbours Ballymartle. The third goal was scored by Ryan Long and settled the issue.
They were the better-balanced team and when you have two very experienced players like the Dwyers in your ranks, it’s a considerable platform. In the aftermath of any county final, as the trophy is presented to the victorious team, the joy of their supporters knows no bounds and that’s the way it should be.
Belgooly is one of those clubs that works damn hard for anything that comes its way and, on and off the field, they have put the necessary structures in place.
These types of days, lining out in a county final are the days of their lives for the majority of the players involved.
Belgooly is a young club, as we discovered in the programme notes, reformed in 1972 and success came quickly when the South East Junior B championship was won a year later.
Many successes, in both codes, have followed subsequently and it’s a club that is now on a very firm footing.
In a few weeks, we will be into 2022 and the club will celebrate 50 years since it was reformed. To be ringing in the new year with two county titles is the perfect way to celebrate a very significant milestone.
You get nothing easy in any grade of club hurling under the auspices of the Cork County Board and county titles are hard-won over the course of a long season.
For the vanquished, Randal Óg there is a quick opportunity to atone for the loss as they are back in Pairc Ui Rinn again next Friday night for the Junior B Inter-divisional Football decider with Dripsey.
And last Saturday’s loss will make them all the more determined. Last Saturday was very much a case of two very rural clubs having their time in the sun although there was not too much of that about, but you get the meaning.
For Belgooly, their year’s work has been very successfully completed.