Massive collective effort went into St Finbarr's title win

“There’s a panel of 30, 35 players there but there’s a lot more people behind the scenes that have got us to where we are."
Massive collective effort went into St Finbarr's title win

A hurley goes flying in this goalmouth clash with Alan Connolly, Blackrock, and St Finbarr’s players Damian Cahalane and Ben O'Connor. Picture: Dan Linehan

During his time as Cork hurling manager, Dónal O’Grady preached the value of batted shots when going for goals and the St Finbarr’s club man’s advice had a positive effect as the club won a first Cork hurling title in 29 years.

Conor Cahalane, outstanding throughout Sunday’s 2-14 to 1-7 win over Blackrock in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, scored the Togher side’s second goal in the 45th minute to put them 2-10 to 1-5 in front.

Having unselfishly set up Brian Hayes for the first goal, the wing-forward went himself when the opportunity arose.

Conor Cahalane in action against Blackrock's Alan O'Callaghan and Stephen Murphy. Picture: INPHO/Ken Sutton
Conor Cahalane in action against Blackrock's Alan O'Callaghan and Stephen Murphy. Picture: INPHO/Ken Sutton

“To be fair, I’d have to give a lot of credit to Dónal O’Grady,” he says.

He did a lot of work with us this year with the hurlers, running through and batting the ball in as it’s very hard for the keeper to stop.

“When I was running through, I said I’d keep going and see if I got to bat. We got lucky in a way that two puck-outs broke through and we broke the line.

“To be fair to Brian, he made a good position and I just saw him at the back post. It was a great finish, in fairness.

“We were saying beforehand that it didn’t make a difference who got the scores. On a day like Sunday, a point or two was going to swing it a long way.”

In 2020 and 2021, the Barrs didn’t qualify for the knockout stage of the competition. However, Cahalane – who said the only hurling medal he had previously won was the intra-club Donie Cremin Tournament – remained optimistic.

“I know the last couple of years we failed to get out of the group, but we were still hurling well,” he said.

“We were blooding in a lot of young fellas Jack’s [Jack Cahalane, Conor’s brother] age and Ben Cunningham’s age, Ben O’Connor. They had another year of experience and it stood a lot to them.”

Ben Cunningham in action for the Barrs in driving rain. Picture: Larry Cummins
Ben Cunningham in action for the Barrs in driving rain. Picture: Larry Cummins

Barrs captain Billy Hennessy felt that the team benefited from keeping their composure, even when they only led by a point at half-time after having the better of the first half.

“I don’t think we panicked at any stage,” he said. “We stuck to the gameplan that we had and we just had confidence in ourselves to get over the line, ultimately.

Barrs captain Billy Hennessy lifts the cup after their win. Picture: Larry Cummins
Barrs captain Billy Hennessy lifts the cup after their win. Picture: Larry Cummins

“Even if you just look at this year, the amount of knockout matches that we’ve played, it’s been every weekend so we’re used to being under pressure in matches and getting results.

“After a while, it’s like anything, it’s practice and you get used to it. It doesn’t faze you and I think that that came into play today, definitely.”

Hennessy’s speech after receiving the Seán Óg Murphy Cup was everything a captain’s acceptance should be. He felt it was important to acknowledge the breadth of the effort that brought them to where they are.

“There’s a panel of 30, 35 players there,” he said, “but there’s a lot more people behind the scenes that have got us to where we are.

The St Finbarr’s team that beat Blackrock in their Co-Op Superstores Premier Senior Hurling Championship final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Dan Linehan
The St Finbarr’s team that beat Blackrock in their Co-Op Superstores Premier Senior Hurling Championship final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Dan Linehan

“We’ve had huge support over the last number of years and everyone in the club has a part to play.

“That’s what I tried to encapsulate in the few words that I said.”

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