Cromane 1-08 St.Oliver Plunketts (Cork 0-08)
Cromane brought a second provincial title for the 2007 season back to the Kingdom as they survived a massive second-half onslaught by their opponents St Oliver Plunkett’s of Cork in the Munster Junior ‘B’ football final in Knockaderry, Co Limerick last Sunday. A strong, howling wind was always going to have a major say in the outcome of this game and Cromane better ability to take their scores in the first-half when they had the wind ultimately proved to be decisive on the day.
The difficult, underfoot conditions made free-flowing football almost impossible and there were some were patchy periods during the game for both sides. Cromane hit the ground running with Donnchadh Walsh dominating the exchanges at midfield and three- time All-Ireland medal winner Seán O’Sullivan giving the St Oliver’s defence no end of problems.
O’Sullivan fisted over for the game’s first score after two minutes before Conor McCarthy replied for the Cork side two minutes later. Cromane controlled the next 15 minutes as they used the conditions very much to their advantage. Walsh was key to the build up to Cromane’s next two points as he found plenty of space for both John Sullivan and Paul Patrick O’Sullivan to slot over. St Oliver’s difficulty to cope with the high balls Cromane were sending in was exposed in the ninth minute when Sean O’Sullivan’s skyscraper of a free caused confusion in the Cork side’s defence and allowed Niall Dennehy to pounce and fist the ball past St Oliver’s ‘keeper Brian Walsh into the net.
Cromane now had a commanding five-point lead but a succession of seven wides was a cause for concern amongst their travelling supporters. Despite not having much to do in the first-half, Cromane’s goalkeeper Liam Walsh had to be at his best to make a point blank save from St Oliver’s corner-forward Barry O’Driscoll in the 18th minute. Points from Donnchadh Walsh and Seán O’Sullivan put Cromane back on track as the game approached half-time although Cromane were given a sense of what the second-half would be like when Kieran Coffey pointed for St Oliver’s with three minutes left in the half before Liam Walsh had to repel another St Oliver’s goal effort from Coffey as Cromane went in six points ahead but with all to play for.
Despite playing into the wind Cromane opened the second-half scoring with Niall Dennehy working hard to point two minutes into the half.
St Oliver’s finally found their rhythm with two quick points from a Kieran Coffey free and a Conor O’Driscoll effort.
An injury to Sean O’Sullivan forced Cromane to take off their inter-county star, but Cromane were undeterred as the Walsh brothers, Donnchadh and Seán (who had three other siblings on the panel), restored their seven-point advantage with one from play and another from a free.
These were to be Cromane’s last scores of the match. The last 20 minutes were all St Oliver Plunketts as the Conor O’Driscoll/Kieran Coffey combination struck again to leave the game balanced on a knife edge with 15 minutes left. Cromane’s defence began to gain a foothold as they were beginning to crowd out the St Oliver’s forwards and force them to kick from long range which saw them fail to take advantage of the wind.
Keith O’Driscoll pointed in the 48th minute before Liam Walsh made another magnificent intervention for his side a minute later fielding a high ball under pressure. The last ten minutes saw both John Sullivan — afterwards named man-of-the-match — and James Foley stand out for Cromane as they marshalled the defence when grit, determination and concentration were now needed for Cromane to hang on.
All St Oliver’s could muster for their intense pressure was a single point from their captain Mike Pat Keohane in the last minute. Cromane breathed a huge sigh of relief at the final whistle and now follow in the footsteps of Mid-Kerry kingpins Laune Rangers in claiming provincial honours and can take huge credit in defeating a Cork side who had accounted for Clare’s Meelick and Tipperary’s Galtee Rovers on their way to the final.
Cromane: Liam Walsh; Peter O’Reilly, James Foley, Noel O’Reilly; John O’Sullivan (0-1), Colm Joy, Michael Teahan; Donnchadh Walsh (captain, 0-2), Francis Casey; Niall Dennehy (0-1), Paul Patrick O’Sullivan (0-1), Seán O’Sullivan (0-2); David Moroney, Eoghan Walsh (1-0), Sean Walsh (0-1).Subs: Micheál O’Shaugnessy for Seán O’Sullivan, Colin O’Sullivan for Eoghan Walsh, Clinton Griffin for David Moroney, Fionnan Walsh, JP McCarthy, Emmet Casey, Sean Reilly, Cian O’Keeffe, Liam Teahan, Connie Riordan, Colm O’Shea, Finbar Casey, David Galvin, Anthony Houlihan, Jerome Houlihan and Noel Foley.
Referee : Jim Long (Feenagh/Kilmeedy, Limerick)
— from The Kerryman, March 12th, 2008