NINE years ago this week, Douglas Hall beat the odds and defeated League of Ireland side Limerick FC in the Munster Senior Cup final at Turner’s Cross.
It was a rare victory for an intermediate team in the competition, and goals from Kevin Kelleher and Chris Cox made sure that history was made by the team from Moneygourney.
This completed a perfect run by Douglas Hall, who knocked out Cork City and Cobh Ramblers earlier in the competition.
What made this even more special for the club was that the last intermediate side from Cork to win the Munster Senior Cup was Cobh Ramblers in 1983. Cork City dominated the tournament after that, with the Waterford Crystal and Carrick United the only non-league teams winning it between 1984 and 2014.
It would have been an all-Munster Senior League final if not for Rockmount losing 3-2 to Limerick in the semi-finals.
The in-between period saw the cup pass around between Waterford and Limerick, with Munster Senior League sides regularly beaten in the final. Even the all-conquering Avondale United team of 2012-13 couldn’t achieve this as they lost the final to Waterford United.
Everyone started believing that success was possible after a 3-1 win over Cork City at Turner’s Cross. The Hall had to battle back from a goal down, with Kevin Mulcahy opening the scoring for John Caulfield’s team by heading in an Ian Turner cross. City took this lead into half-time, and it would have been bigger than just 1-0 if not for Rob Lehane and Cian Coleman missing chances. After Fox equalised midway through the second half, Declan O’Connell scored a brace in the final ten minutes and that gave Douglas Hall a famous win over Cork City.
The final against Limerick was a different challenge, as the Shannonsiders were shrouded in uncertainty. The Premier Division side were struggling for form and all the pressure was on their manager, Stuart Taylor.
The Hall lined up as follows in the final: Sebastian Kraviec; James Kind, Gerard Keane, David Hackett, Michael Doody; Kevin Kelleher (Ryan O Brian 88) Chris Fox, Brian Wilkinson; Declan O’Connell, Derek Varian, Paul Lehane (Mark Murphy 76).
They were set up in a 4-4-1-1 formation and this allowed numbers in midfield that at times swarmed Limerick’s 4-4-2.
Douglas Hall had a dream start in the final as they were given a penalty in the 23rd minute and Kelleher converted by sending the Limerick goalkeeper the wrong way.
This was a just reward as Fox won a corner in the second minute and David Hackett’s set piece was headed wide by Brian Wilkinson.
Limerick had almost all of the chances in the opening half hour and none of these threatened a well-organised Douglas Hall defence. When they did get through, Sebastian Kraviec stood his ground and dealt with every ball that was sent his way.
Then Varian was fouled by Shane Walsh and a penalty was awarded to Douglas Hall, which Kelleher converted at the Shed End.
The visitors tried to equalise through Garbhán Coughlan and Darragh Rainsford, but neither was able to find the target. This helped Douglas Hall go into half-time with a one-goal lead.
Ross Mann levelled for Limerick by connecting with a long ball over the top and rolling the ball past the Douglas Hall goalkeeper.
They should have scored a second in the 73rd minute but Tony Whitehead put his shot well over the intended target.
The Hall responded with Varian crossing into the box and Fox turned in what turned out to be the winning goal.
Douglas Hall manager Dave Moore was delighted after seeing his team lift the Munster Senior Cup and he gave an emotional post-match interview to.
“Over the moon, the lads deserve it after the last couple of weeks,” he said.
“We missed a couple of chances and found it tough at times but we rode it out.”
Moore also heaped praise on Fox, a player he believed could play at a higher level than the Munster Senior League.
“He was superb. If it wasn’t for work commitments and stuff like that he’d probably be playing in the League of Ireland,” he explained.
The next six years saw a monopoly by League of Ireland sides in the competition, with Cork City lifting it three times between 2017 and 2019. The cup finally returned to the Munster Senior League in 2020 when Rockmount beat the Rebel Army 2-0 at Turner’s Cross.