Paudie Palmer: Wedding bells and high mileage can't halt Cork's club hurlers

Hailing the big performance of Ballygiblin's Shane Beston and Erin's Own duo Shane Murphy and Pat Fitzgerald last weekend
Paudie Palmer: Wedding bells and high mileage can't halt Cork's club hurlers

Erin's Own veteran Shane Murphy had a stormer in the county hurling final replay. Picture: Howard Crowdy

WHEN the final whistle sounded at the conclusion of the Junior A hurling final replay between Erin’s Own and Kilshannig, it marked the completion of the Cork County Board adult championship programme for 2022. 

It was the first under the new format without Covid sticking its oar in and it was the best edition in many years. 

A few stats... where would we be without them? 18 championships, 328 matches, 82 referees and their team of officials, 81 different venues, 876 goals and 9,194 points. 

Add in, the incalculable hours of voluntary inputs allied to equally incalculable hours of entertainment.  Perfection is objective but in the humble opinion of this scribbler, this might be as close as it gets!

Already plans are in place for the 2023 issue with the all-important draws for the 30 groups in the 10 main championships taking place on Sunday at the county convention. 

EQUALITY

Just to note, that, probably for the first time in the history of Cork GAA, championship equality will apply in both codes, five 12-team championships in each: Premier Senior, Senior A, Premier Intermediate, Intermediate A and Premier Junior. 

I should also add that the draws for the remaining nine championships will take place on Sunday afternoon.

Prior to mentioning Ballygiblin’s trophy-collecting journey, can we visit the one nailed-on excuse that did exist in the past for getting championship matches cancelled: the wedding?

In the aftermath of Shane Beston’s performance on Sunday where he landed 3-3 from play in the Munster championship success over St Kieran’s, those excuses are with O'Leary in the grave.

 Ballygiblin's Shane Beston puts his third goal past St. Kieran's keeper Cillian Ambrose in the Munster junior hurling championship final at Mallow. Picture Dan Linehan
Ballygiblin's Shane Beston puts his third goal past St. Kieran's keeper Cillian Ambrose in the Munster junior hurling championship final at Mallow. Picture Dan Linehan

Shane and his Kildorrery bride Emma Coughlan (he didn’t travel far) got married on Saturday and 24 hours later, the groom metamorphosed into a scoring machine. The wedding wasn’t one of those private events, if I am not mistaken all dual members of the panel were present and that is a sizeable majority. 

So dear readers, Shane not only ended St Kieran’s championship run, but he also buried the great excuse forever and a day.

The victory ensures that the winter shortening process continues not alone for the team but for a large cohort of people from their North Cork base that they represent. The weekend after next, they will face the Leinster champions. The final of that competition taking place this Saturday in Wexford Park at 1pm between Commercials from Rathcoole in Dublin and Horeswood from Wexford. 

It would be nice if the Christmas conversations included an upcoming All-Ireland final.

Back to the last county Championship match of 2022, and what a feast of entertainment presented in Páirc Uí Rinn. 

 Kieran Twomey, Kilshannig, rises from Andrew Power, Erin's Own. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Kieran Twomey, Kilshannig, rises from Andrew Power, Erin's Own. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

A drawn game that goes to extra time nearly tells its own story, this was better. Kilshannig and goals almost got over the line, but you could argue, that in the end that it was Mark Collins and points that enabled the Glounthaune/Little Island side to record their first Junior A county. 

Having lost the equivalent encounter of 1977 to Éire Óg, they won intermediate county championships in 1984 and 1987 and followed up with senior titles in 1992, 2006 and 2007. Now they have the full collection.

It could be said that Erin’s Own's side that reached this year's Premier Senior semi-final only to be defeated by Blackrock included a higher number of players in their '30s than their county-winning juniors.

EXPERIENCE

However to omit the efforts of the two high-mileage boys on Sunday last would be glaring. 

Patrick Fitzgerald (38) was a dual minor in 2002, on Sunday he manned the number three jersey to huge effect. On numerous occasions, he prevented attacks netting flags and equally he could be viewed as the starting point for many of his team’s journeys to opposition land.

A youthful Erin's Own's Pat Fitzgerald in action against Watergrasshil's Des Ryan in 2002. Picture: Gavin Browne
A youthful Erin's Own's Pat Fitzgerald in action against Watergrasshil's Des Ryan in 2002. Picture: Gavin Browne

In 2001, Shane Murphy (39) along with John Gardiner (you remember him) and Michael Prout, Shamrocks formed the Cork minor half-back line when they defeated Galway in All-Ireland final 2-10 to 1-8, with Murphy's club man Tomás O'Leary donning the captain’s armband. 

For last Sunday’s encounter, he was handed the number eight jersey and were it not for Mark Collins finding favour with the Man of the Match adjudication panel, Murphy who picked up this accolade back in 2007 at senior, would have added to that collection.  

He was simply immense and his goal on 58 mins minutes put Erin’s Own into lead for the first time in the encounter. Thankfully for the North Cork side, sub Jack Kearney levelled in injury time.

In extra time, the six-point contribution from the aforementioned Mark Collins played a major role in deciding the contest. 

 Mark Collins, Erin's Own, receives the Player of the Match award from Niall O'Sullivan, Co Op Superstores. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Mark Collins, Erin's Own, receives the Player of the Match award from Niall O'Sullivan, Co Op Superstores. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

During the course of the game, the new champions' backroom staff made nine alterations but when referee Ian McCarthy blew for the final time, veterans Patrick and Shane had played every minute of the enthralling encounter. 

Next Sunday, two mid-Cork clubs will face final auditions. Naomh Abán ladies footballers, with players from Ballyvourney, Cill Na Martra and Clondrohid, will travel to Killmallock to play Salthill Knocknacarra in the All-Ireland Junior Final at 1pm. 

At the same time in Mallow, Kilmurry face a mammoth task when they play a David Clifford-inspired Fossa side in the Munster Junior final. 

A Muskerry double? 

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