Ger Cunningham: Patience vital with St Finbarr's new wave of hurlers

“We won a minor county a few years ago and we have talent coming through. There will be ups and downs along the way and sure this is going down to the last match against Sars, which is going to be massive.”
Ger Cunningham: Patience vital with St Finbarr's new wave of hurlers

Niall Cashman, Blackrock, closes in as Eoghan Finn, St Finbarr's, catches the sliotar at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

GER CUNNINGHAM admitted he didn’t know what to think after St Finbarr’s found themselves nine points adrift so early against Blackrock in their Co-Op Superstores county PSHC tie at Páirc Uí Rinn at the weekend.

The Rockies began like a whirlwind firing 11 points in 10 minutes and a young Barrs looked in big trouble, but recovered to win a nail-biter by 0-24 to 1-20 and top the so-called Group of Death with one game left.

“We just didn’t settle. We were all over the place and struggling in a lot of positions,” the manager said.

“Blackrock started really well and got a lot of scores, but putting Damien Cahalane back to centre-back had a settling effect for us.

“And once we got into the game we started winning a lot of the breaking ball, a few puck outs and began scoring.

“We picked up moment and confidence as a result and could even have gone in at half-time ahead.”

 Mark O'Keeffe, Blackrock, is held back by Billy Hennessy, St Finbarr's. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Mark O'Keeffe, Blackrock, is held back by Billy Hennessy, St Finbarr's. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Blackrock’s lead was slashed to the minimum, 0-15 to 0-14, at the interval, but Cunningham stressed the importance of the superb save by keeper Shane Hurley to deny dangerman Alan Connolly after just nine minutes.

Hurley got down low to turn away the Blackrock star’s difficult shot for a 65, which Connolly converted for 0-10 to 0-2.

“You forget about those things so early in a game. If they had got a goal in that first half we would have been in serious trouble,” Cunningham commented.

But the Barrs settled with youngsters Ben O’Connor, Ethan Twomey, Jack Cahalane, Brian Hayes and Ben Cunningham, scorer of 0-12, to the fore.

They’re the future, the fellas coming through and the older more experienced players are surrounding them now giving a bit of guidance.

“We won a minor county a few years ago and we have talent coming through, but people need patience to see that develop. There will be ups and downs along the way and sure this is going down to the last match against Sars, which is going to be massive.”

The Barrs showed admirable levels of composure to emerge from a treacherous situation.

“That is massively encouraging from our point of view.

“In the past, we might have struggled at being nine points down, but we have massive belief in this group.

“Momentum is crucial, too, and we saw that during the middle of the second half, when we went from one point ahead to five.

“And then we were able to see it out after typical Blackrock, fair play to them, never die and got a goal near the end. Heart-attack stuff.”

The Barrs welcomed the return of the Cahalane brothers, Damien and Conor, from injury.

“They were massive losses the previous week so to have them back was huge and they made a massive effort to get back. Overall, to come back from nine down was fantastic and very encouraging.

“To win a game like that is very satisfying and hopefully we can build on it,” Cunningham concluded.

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