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Wednesday 8 February 2023 Dublin: 7°C
# Barrs In Blue
Brilliant St Finbarr's end 29-year wait for Cork hurling glory as they defeat Blackrock
15,165 was the attendance in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

St Finbarr’s 2-14

Blackrock 1-7

THE WAIT HAD gone on for four decades for a collision between these two hurling heavyweights on Cork county senior final day.

st-finbarrs-players-celebrate-in-the-dressing-room Ken Sutton / INPHO St Finbarr's players celebrate in the dressing-room. Ken Sutton / INPHO / INPHO

The renewal of acquaintances between Blackrock and St Finbarr’s occurred on a truly wretched day for hurling, yet that could not dampen the spirits of St Finbarr’s who were joyously dancing in the rain after ending their own long wait for silverware.

Not since 1993 had the famed Togher club graced this occasion and they made their mark in some style, a dominant second-half display propelling them to a convincing ten-point success.

Conor Cahalane created the breakthrough goal for Brian Hayes and finished the second one in style himself as the Ger Cunningham-managed team maintained their club’s bid for a senior double in 2022. By the three-quarter mark the outcome of this one was inevitable, those St Finbarr’s goals confirming their superiority.

The relentless showers mixed with a strong wind made for a gloomy October afternoon where the floodlights were necessary early in the day. The application and attitude of both teams was on the money but it was difficult for either to produce classy, flowing passages of  play.

mark-okeeffe-celebrates-scoring-a-goal Ken Sutton / INPHO Mark O'Keeffe celebrates scoring his goal. Ken Sutton / INPHO / INPHO

Ben Cunningham knocked over six first-half points in a free-scoring display, the one forward that cut loose in that opening period. A recognised free-taker, his efforts from play caught the eye with three registered for St Finbarr’s before the break. He finished with nine to his credit, lobbing over another shot from play late on in the second half and deservedly departed with the man-of-the-match award.

Cunningham shot over the last point of the half, moments after Blackrock had drawn level courtesy of scores supplied by Alan Connolly and Shane O’Keeffe. Blackrock were heartened at the midway mark after hurling against the elements with Mark O’Keeffe cracking home a critical goal twelve minutes in, fed by a fine pass from Tadgh Deasy.

They could have rattled the net again a few minutes later through Robbie Cotter but Damien Cahalane flung his body at the strike to intercept its’ path as it travelled towards Shane Hurley’s goalmouth.

stephen-murphy-and-cian-walsh Ken Sutton / INPHO Stephen Murphy and Cian Walsh. Ken Sutton / INPHO / INPHO

It was 0-9 to 1-5 in St Finbarr’s favour and they dismissed any suggestions in the second half that the conditions would switch the momentum towards Blackrock. The winning rearguard was magnificent, blotting out the sizeable attacking threat that Blackrock posed. 

Consider that Blackrock only mustered two points in the second half and just one of those from play. The deteriorating weather impacted on their work up front and they were trying to manufacture goals a long way out from the final whistle as they were chasing this game.

But the inside St Finbarr’s trio of Cian Walsh, Jamie Burns and Eoin Keane did a terrific job in protecting their goal. Robbie Cotter, Tadgh Deasy and Connolly advertised their ability to inflict damage by posting a combined 2-16 in the semi-final for Blackrock. Today Connolly was the only one to score and of his three points, just one originated from play.

That was a testament to St Finbarr’s sturdiness at the back and they cut loose for those key goals. Conor Cahalane galloped in from the left wing for both, flinging a handpass across for Brian Hayes to register the first in the 37th minute and then tidily finishing off a goal of his own in the 45th minute.

St Finbarr’s successfully shut up shop from there and whipped  substitute William Buckley off the bench, another talented youngster as he slung over two points.

The final whistle sparked the scenes the St Finbarr’s fraternity have dreamed of during their barren spell. A hurling title in the bag, a football final to come and a Munster club showdown away to the Clare champions in November.

Glorious times in Neenan Park.

Scorers for St Finbarr’s: Ben Cunningham 0-9 (0-3f, 0-2 ’65), Brian Hayes 1-1, Conor Cahalane 1-0, William Buckley 0-2, Padraig Buggy 0-2.

Scorers for Blackrock: Mark O’Keeffe 1-0, Alan Connolly 0-3 (0-1f, 0-1 ’65), Shane O’Keeffe 0-2, Michael O’Halloran 0-1, Daniel Meaney 0-1.

St Finbarr’s

1. Shane Hurley

3. Jamie Burns, 4. Cian Walsh, 2. Eoin Keane

17. Glenn O’Connor, 6. Damien Cahalane, 7. Billy Hennessy

5. Ben O’Connor, 9. Ethan Twomey

14. Padraig Buggy, 12. Conor Cahalane,10. Ben Cunningham

11. Eoghan Finn, 13. Brian Hayes, 15. Jack Cahalane

Subs

8. William Buckley for Finn (47)

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21. Sam Cunningham for Buggy (60)

20. Colm Keane for Jack Cahalane (61)

19. Ciaran Doolan for Glenn O’Connor (63)

Blackrock

1. Gavin Connolly

2. Conor O’Brien, 6. John Cashman, 4. Stephen Murphy

5. Cathal Cormack, 3. Alan O’Callaghan, 7. Niall Cashman

8. Daniel Meaney, 10. Mark O’Keeffe,

12. Michael O’Halloran, 14. Shane O’Keeffe, 11. Tadhg Deasy, 

9. Kevin O’Keeffe, 13. Robbie Cotter, 15. Alan Connolly

Subs

18. John O’Sullivan for Cotter (46)

19. Ciaran Cormack for O’Halloran (52)

20. David O’Farrell for Shane O’Keeffe (54)

Referee: Simon Stokes.

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