Killenaule booked their place in this year’s South Senior Hurling final, and their first since 2010 at the expense of three-in-a-row chasing Mullinahone in what was a dour, dogged contest, played in atrocious conditions on Sunday evening last, winning 0-12 to 0-11.
With the rain relentless throughout, expectation was that the game as a spectacle would flatter to deceive, but credit to both sets of players for a high-energy, competitive game,that was very much in the melting pot right to the end. Killlenaule cruised through the league section with maximum points, including a 14 point victory over a depleted Mullinahone two weeks ago, but knockout hurling been what it is, a much tighter affair always seemed on the cards.
The breeze favoured Mullinahone slightly in the first half but it was Killenaule who started the brighter of the two sides. John O’Dwyer, one of the few shining lights from Tipperary’s defeat in the Gaelic Grounds seven days ago, pointed a free inside 20seconds for a foul on Tony Doyle. Patrick Kerwick made it two a minute later, following good work form Michael Doyle and John O’Dwyer. Mullinahone replied through an Eoin Kelly free in the 6th minute, before another O’Dwyer free maintained Killenaule’s 2point lead. Free flowing hurling was very much at a premium, given the conditions, which seemed to worsen as the game wore on. Eoin Kelly pointed his and Mullinahone’s second from a free after ten minutes, which was matched by an exquisite John O’Dwyer point from a line ball to keep Killenaule ahead. Pat Kerwick further enhanced Killenaule’s lead soon after, with his second point of the evening.
At this stage Mullinahone were looking for Eoin Kelly at every opportunity, and he had a wonderful point from a narrow angle in the 16th minute, and followed it up with another free success two minutes later. Mullinahone were beginning to grow in confidence and another Kelly free left them just a point behind with half time approaching. Killenaule’s Daniel Guinan, having been released by Tony Doyle, fired a great point over the bar to keep Killenaule’s tally ticking over but the teams went to the dressing rooms all square as a brace of Eoin Kelly frees tied the the game up at 7points apiece.
From the restart Eoin Kelly had his fourth in a row to put the Kickham’s men in the lead for the very first time. Tackling was now intense and at times ferocious and referee Noel Cosgrove had his hands full, issuing yellow cards a plenty. John O’Dwyer restored parity a few minutes later, pointing a free after he himself was fouled. But it was the next ten minutes where Killenaule took a grip on the game, and were never headed from thereon in. Substitute Dominic Blake put them in front after a great pass from Tony Doyle and Michael Doyle doubled the advantage with a great point two minutes later. Eoin Kelly, now operating in the half-forward line,landed a huge free for Mullinahone with 15mins remaining, as his almost sole crusade keep Mullinahone in touch. John O’Dwyer at this point had left the field for attention, so Tony Doyle took charge of free taking duties, and two in as many minutes from Doyle, gave Killenaule sight of the finishing line. With Killenaule three up with five to play, Mulllinahone needed something special. It very nearly arrived however, with two Eoin Kelly points, one a great long distance score off his left side, breathing new found belief into Mullinahone at the death. Then disaster struck for CJK, when a second yellow card, dismissed Eoin Kelly with seconds on the clock. A resolute Killenaule defence hung on, taking victory by the minimum to join Saturday night’s semi-final victors Carrick Swans in the final.
On the night a more balanced team performance saw Killenaule over the line, which included assured displays from Declan Fanning, Kieran Bergin, John O’Dwyer,and Tony Doyle.Its to the Dan Breen Cup qualifiers for Mullinahone, whose over reliance on Eoin Kelly ultimately proved to be their downfall.
Killenaule: Gerry Kennedy, Stephen Browne, Paddy Codd, Pat O’Connor, Joe O’Dwyer, Declan Fanning(capt.), Kieran Bergin, Thomas Keaveney, Niall O’Dwyer, Kevin Prendergast, John O’Dwyer(0-5 4 frees 1 sideline), Daniel Guinan(0-1), Patrick Kerwick(0-2), Tony Doyle(0-2frees), Michael Doyle(0-1)
Subs: Stephen Hannigan for Kevin Prendergast (ht), Dominic Blake (0-1) for Thomas Keaveney(40mins), Joe Ceaser for John O’Dwyer(51mins), John O’Dwyer for Niall O’Dwyer(59mins)
CJK Mullinahone: Alan Walsh, Kevin Walzer, AJ Cronin, James Connolly, Phillip O’Shea, Paul Curran, Niall Curran, Edwin O’Meara(capt.), Donal Coady, Niall Cronin, Ky Vaughan, Eoin Kelly(0-11, 9frees), Alan Curran, Micheal Dunne
Sub: Eddie Carey for Niall Cronin (ht)
Ref: Noel Cosgrove (Marlfield)