Cork Senior Hurling Championship Final – Carrigtwohill 0-15 CIT 1-11

93 years in the making: Carrigtwohill’s magical day

Carrigtwohill 0-15 Cork IT 1-11

By Fintan O’Toole for the Irish Examiner newspaper

THROUGHOUT the year Carrigtwohill have been confounding expectations, so why should yesterday be different? The tag of outsiders has rested easily on the East Cork village and that was demonstrated again in Páirc Uí Chaoimh as they overturned the student challenge from Cork IT to secure a fantastic victory in the Cork senior hurling final.

In a heart-stopping finale, two evenly-matched teams battled ferociously to find a match-winner and it was Carrig substitute Seanie O’Farrell who popped up with a momentous point with less than a minute on the clock. Carrig defending resiliently in injury-time to protect their lead and set in motion remarkable scenes of celebration as the club’s first crown at this grade in 93 years was received rapturously.

It is an astonishing achievement by Carrigtwohill. They only clambered up from the Premier intermediate ranks four years ago and have been accustomed to white-knuckle rides to avoid relegation. But 2011 has seen them pen a different script. The shrewd installation of Lismore native James O’Connor as manager helped create an environment in which the players could prosper and they responded accordingly by stringing together a series of magnificent victories.

The fairytale feel to their glory was encapsulated in the tale of their scoring star O’Farrell. An All-Ireland minor hurling winner with Cork in 1995, O’Farrell has been lauded as a hero at club level before with his brilliant three-goal haul proving pivotal to Carrigtwohill’s premier intermediate final win in 2007. But those achievements were dwarfed by his feat yesterday. After a year where injuries have restricted the amount of game-time he has been exposed to, O’Farrell displayed the sharpness when sprung from the bench to lob over the score that ensured this would be an historical magical afternoon for his club.

O’Farrell commanded headlines for his closing contribution but it was Carrigtwohill’s most decorated player Niall McCarthy who garnered the attention for the influence he exerted on the entire game. From the off, McCarthy hurled with a manic intensity, a man clearly intent on succeeding in his first county senior final with his club. The energy and leadership he brought to his game was reflected in the numerous outstanding blocks he made when chasing CIT players on the attack and the pair of sparkling points he swung over from the left wing early in the second-half.

McCarthy’s performance set the standard and the rest of the Carrigtwohill team responded in style. Their route to this final has been defined by their ability to chisel out victories in tight situations and that manifested itself again yesterday. They have embodied the ethos of a team with everyone pitching in. Despite being shorn of stars like Jason Barrett and Seamus O’Farrell through long-term injuries, they have defended superbly this year with Noel Furlong, Colm O’Connell and Pat O’Sullivan to the fore in shutting down a richly talented CIT attack.

Midfield duo Daniel O’Mahony and Sean Flannery, who signed off in style as he heads off travelling around the world today, ensured CIT were never in control of that sector while up front there was an array of leading performers. Vice-captain Mickey ‘Da’ Fitzgerald was exceptional as he notched six points, Tomás Hogan landed some pressure frees while Robert White was a constant threat at corner-forward, with his standout moment being a stunning 5th minute point from the sideline.

Carrigtwohill’s ability to settle early on was key as they set out the patterns of the match. They forced the issue in the first-half to lead 0-8 to 1-3 at the interval with Fitzgerald starring in the scoring stakes. CIT struggled to replicate the dazzling form that had blitzed teams in previous rounds with their forwards finding it difficult to punch holes in the Carrigtwohill rearguard. That was reflected in the fact that their captain Lorcan McLoughlin, who had a wonderful game, was their only player to register more than a point.

They did manage to raise the solitary green flag of the afternoon in the 13th minute when Colm Casey powerfully cut in from the right wing and finished with assurance past William McCarthy in the Carrigtwohill goal. And then after that indifferent opening half display, CIT produced some excellent passages of play early in the second-half. Eoin Dillon was anchoring their defensive effort with John O’Callaghan also extremely solid. The introduction of Clare senior Patrick O’Connor and Carrigaline attacker Tony Murphy from the bench boosted their display further.

They struck five of the first six points after the interval with John Cronin, David Drake, O’Connor and McLoughlin (2) all on target. That edged them into a 1-8 to 0-9 lead and all the signs pointed to CIT starting to become the game’s superior force. It was a critical juncture in the game and a genuine test that Carrigtwohill needed to face. They answered those questions emphatically with their big guns in attack, White, McCarthy and Fitzgerald all grabbing vital points to restore their lead by the 47th minute. CIT never folded and fought hard to alter the direction the game was travelling in but it was O’Farrell’s late show that won the day.

Scorers for Carrigtwohill: M Fitzgerald 0-6 (0-2f), T Hogan (0-2f, 0-1 ‘65), R White 0-3 each, N McCarthy 0-2, S O’Farrell 0-1.

Scorers for Cork IT: L McLoughlin 0-5 (0-2f, 0-2 65), C Casey 1-0, J Cronin, D Drake, M O’Sullivan, T Quaid (0-1f), T Murphy (0-1f), P O’Connor 0-1 each.

Subs for Carrigtwohill: S O’Farrell for Kidney (47), B Lordan for Hogan (58).

Subs for Cork IT: P O’Connor for Kelly (half-time), T Murphy for Quaid (37), J Sheehan for Drake (47), K Hallissey for O’Sullivan (53).

Referee: Colm Lyons (Nemo Rangers)

 

The Key Moment

IT may be simplistic, but Seanie O’Farrell’s late point was the pivotal moment. Cork IT had drawn level through inspirational scores by Lorcan McLoughlin before O’Farrell’s response defined the game.

 

Pub Talk

CARRIGTWOHILL, the 100/1 outsiders at the start of the season and without a senior title in 93 years, being crowned county senior hurling champions. Remarkable.

 

Man of the Match

NIALL McCarthy is the celebrated name on the Carrigtwohill team and he justified that tag with a display of great leadership that was adorned by two exquisite second-half points.

 

Man in the Middle

IN his first senior decider, Colm Lyons handled the match effectively

 

Haven’t seen that before

THE sight of a Carrigtwohill captain hoisting the Sean Óg Murphy Cup into the air was certainly novel for the 10,004 supporters in attendance.

 

What’s Next?

CARRIG progress to the Munster senior club hurling championship where they will face the Clare champions at the semi-final stage on November 13 at a Cork venue.

 

Ricken must face the music in home parish

By Michael Moynihan for the Irish Examiner newspaper

SPARE a thought for Keith Ricken this morning. The Cork IT coach saw his team lose by the narrowest of margins to Carrigtwohill. Bad enough until you realise that Ricken lives in east Cork. Carrigtwohill, to be exact. “It was a great final, a great advertisement for Cork hurling,” said Ricken. “Cork hurling is far from dead and I’m delighted for Carrigtwohill – the parish that I live in. I’m delighted for the people there because I know the work that they put in. “Equally, they know the work we put in outside in CIT. It’s a final, and somebody has to lose. I’m hugely disappointed for the players for the effort they put in.

“On top of everything they put in all year with their clubs they still put in that huge effort to come together for us. It’s not about us as management, it’s all about the players, so our hearts go out to them, but our congratulations go to Carrig. “They got the scores at the very end, and that sums up how they played all through – they were taking their chances.”

CIT’s shooting had been wayward in the first half, something the management addressed at the break. “We’d taken a few silly shots in the first half. We didn’t do that in the second half, that was fine, but you need a bit of a break. You can talk rubbish but it comes down to a small bit either way, and Carrig had that today.”

The narrow margin at the end didn’t surprise Ricken. “We knew it was going to come down to a point or two. We’d been saying that for the whole week. “They got the run of luck at times, they got a couple of good decisions that they mightn’t have went their way another day. “That’s not a criticism of the referee, now, I thought he was very good, but we were very unlucky.”

CIT tried dual star Aidan Walsh in several different positions, trying to get him into the game, but Carrig’s defence worked hard to shut him down. Ricken wasn’t inclined to focus on particular players. “I don’t like to name individuals, because one thing lads will tell you about CIT is that whether you’re playing Freshers 3 hurling or with us, boys or girls, everyone is treated the same.

“We don’t expect anything from any player other than they give their best. Aidan, or any other player, when they shave in the morning and they look in the mirror, they’ll know they did their best. “They mightn’t have played their best, but they’ll know they did their best, and if the people coming out of CIT can say that as they go out into the workforce, then we’ve done our job.”