Midleton and Glen Rovers dominate Reardens Club Hurling All-Stars

County champions take seven spots with six Glen representatives
Midleton and Glen Rovers dominate Reardens Club Hurling All-Stars

David Noonan of Glen Rovers with Sam Quirke of Midleton are the midfield pairing in the Reardens All-Stars. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

COUNTY final man of the match Conor Lehane leads the Midleton magnificent seven in this year’s Rearden’s Cork Premier SHC All-Star team.

While the change in format introduced for the county championships last year means that there are more opportunities for players to impress, ultimately the games in the knockout stages carry the most weight. 

Though Midleton were beaten by Sarsfields in their final group game, they had already secured qualification before that and then saw off Erin’s Own, county champions Blackrock and Glen Rovers to claim county honours for the first time since 2013.

Winners of Imokilly and Sarsfields before falling narrowly to Midleton, the Glen have six representatives on the side while Blackrock and Erin’s Own have one each.

Blackrock's Niall Cashman turns Douglas' Eoin Cadogan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Blackrock's Niall Cashman turns Douglas' Eoin Cadogan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

The All-Star presentation night was due to be held in Reardens Bar on Tuesday night December 7 at 7.30pm, but has been postponed until early in the New Year due to the current Covid restrictions.

In goal, Glen captain Cathal Hickey was stellar throughout their run to the final. Trailing early on against Sars, he made a super save from Luke Hackett to prevent a five-point deficit materialising; in the final, his stop from Ross O’Regan ensured that the game remained in the melting pot until the very end.

Eoin Moloney was one of Midleton’s stars in the final and he was an example of tidy corner-back play all through the campaign. The Glen conceded just three goals in their six matches, with four shut-outs including the semi-final and final, and a big factor in that was the excellence of Stephen McDonnell at full-back. The veteran was often given tough man-marking assignments but he showed that he has lost none of his defensive durability.

At the other end of the age scale, Midleton’s Ciarmhac Smyth is still in school but he showed himself to be an old head on young shoulders as he collected a first county medal. His versatility was shown with fine performances in both defensive lines and he take the other corner-back spot.

The half-back line was the toughest to choose and we start with apologies to Brian Moylan and Eoin Downey of the Glen and Midleton’s Cormac Walsh – in most other years, any of them would have walked on to the team.

Downey’s brother Robert established himself as the Cork full-back during 2021 but he showed with the Glen that he is just as comfortable further from goal. In beating Imokilly and Sars, the Blackpool side built on a very solid half-back platform.

Midleton's Conor Lehane is shadowed by Glen Rovers' Robert Downey. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Midleton's Conor Lehane is shadowed by Glen Rovers' Robert Downey. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

While Tommy O’Connell has generally operated in midfield before now, he produced a series of impeccable performances at number 6 for Midleton, often the quarterback launching attacks and capable of getting on the scoresheet as well. Breaking up the finalists’ dominance at the back, Niall Cashman was outstanding for Blackrock, with a goal against Midleton some consolation for the fact that their title defence ended at the semi-final stage.

At midfield, David Noonan quietly went about his business for the Glen but he did it well and was a driving force in their county final comeback from nine points down; Sam Quirke has already had a superb year, winning an All-Ireland U20 medal with Cork, and he brought that form into the county championship with him, slotting in perfectly alongside Paul Haughney.

LETHAL

As in 2013, it’s no exaggeration to say that Midleton wouldn’t have won the county without the contribution of Conor Lehane in the final and that was merely the continuation of superb form from him that sees him an automatic selection – similarly, even though he missed the last 40 minutes of the Imokilly game after a red card that was later rescinded, the Glen’s Patrick Horgan scored 1-11 against Sars and 1-12 against Midleton.

That pair are joined in the half-forward line by Robbie O’Flynn of Erin’s Own. He was the architect behind their fightback from 10 points down against St Finbarr’s when they seemed in huge trouble; before that, he got six points in the opening-game win over the Rockies and four from play in the narrow defeat to Midleton.

At number 13, Luke O’Farrell. 

Midleton's Luke O'Farrell runs to goal past a flying hurley. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Midleton's Luke O'Farrell runs to goal past a flying hurley. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

While he only managed a point in the final he was heavily involved in build-up play and defending from the front; in every other game, he made a key scoring contribution. Similarly, Cormac Beausang posted 0-4, 1-4 and 0-2 in the three knockout games and he takes the other corner-forward spot.

While cases could be made for Alan Connolly, Shane Kingston, and more than a few Sarsfields attackers, particularly Aaron Myers, the two Magpies are joined by Simon Kennefick, who belied the notion that the Glen are a one-man attack with vital contributions at every stage.

Reardens Cork Premier SHC All-Stars 2021: 

Cathal Hickey (Glen Rovers); 

Eoin Moloney (Midleton), Stephen McDonnell (Glen Rovers), Ciarmhac Smyth (Midleton); 

Robert Downey (Glen Rovers), Tommy O’Connell (Midleton), Niall Cashman (Blackrock); 

David Noonan (Glen Rovers), Sam Quirke (Midleton); 

Conor Lehane (Midleton), Patrick Horgan (Glen Rovers), Robbie O’Flynn (Erin’s Own); 

Luke O’Farrell (Midleton), Simon Kennefick (Glen Rovers), Cormac Beausang (Midleton).

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