Cappawhite were demoted to intermediate status following a 4-14 to 2-12 defeat to Holycross/Ballycahill in the SHC relegation final at Dundrum on Friday evening.
It’s a big blow to the proud West Tipperary club as they try to revive their fortunes in the lower tier of Tipperary hurling.
For Holycross it was a welcome reprieve and two terrific first half goals from experienced marksman Rob Stakelum set them on their way. The first came in the 12th minute and was brilliant solo effort. Stakelum picked up possession 50 yards from goal and with searing pace bolted away from his marker. Crossing the 20 yard line he unleashed a low thunderous drive past the keeper.
His second came in the 24th minute. This time Stakelum linked up with colleague Donnacha Duggan who won possession on the edge of the square. As he gathered Duggan spotted the onrushing Stakelum and laid a perfect hand pass. The corner forward from point blank range made no mistake and extended the Holycross advantage.
This victory was well deserved for Holycross. They were the sharper side and had more in the way of hurling skill and guile in their play. Cappa’ were dogged and battled to the bitter end but they lacked the sufficient fire power to match their opponents.
The match began with understandable tension in the air and it took both sides a few moments to settle into any rhythm. Early scores from Shane Ryan and Liam Moloney were matched with responses from Tom Treacy and Gerry O’Neill to keep things tied early on. Stakelum’s goal changed that and allowed Holycross play with more freedom.
The closing stages of the first half proved to be crucial as Holycross registered 2-5 to just a single point in response from Cappawhite. On the stroke of half time Jamie Woods found the back of the Cappawhite net for a third time in the half as he latched onto a wonderful reverse pass from Donnacha Duggan before firing home from close range. This left the half time score 3-9 to 0-6.
As the second half began the men from the West battled with gusto, closing the margin with points from Darragh Barry, Rian Doody and a score from lively half time sub Jim Carr.
With a quarter of an hour remaining Gerry O’Neill made matters interesting. The full forward who battled hard all night rattled a 21 yard free under the bodies of the heavily populated goal line and into the net.
With spirits rising in the Cappawhite camp it was Liam Moloney who quenched their fire. The wing forward latched onto a breaking ball and soloed into the ground that opened in front of him. In the corner of his eye he saw a challenge approaching so decided to shoot and with accuracy placed the ball into the net.
Moloney’s goal all but sealed victory for Holycross but there was no dampening Cappawhite’s spirit and they fought on. As the clock ticked towards stoppage time Gerry O’Neill replicated his earlier 21 yard effort and found the net again this time a mere consolation as Holycross claimed a well deserved eight point victory.
Holycross/Ballycahill: J Ferncombe (0-1, 1F); P Dwyer, J Doyle, C Ryan; K Dwyer, C Barrett (0-1), J Skehan; T Leahy, S Ryan (0-1); D Duggan, L O’Meara (0-3), L Moloney (1-2); J Woods (1-4, 3F), S Nally, R Stakelum (2-0). Subs: R Nally for T Leahy (48), L McCullagh (0-1) for S Nally (57), P Russell (0-1) for D Duggan (57), T Leahy for L Moloney (59).
Cappawhite: M Buckley; D O’Dwyer, T Costello, M Leahy; K Stapleton, S Ryan, R Dunne; P Julian (0-1), T Treacy (0-1); D Barry (0-1, 1F), J McGrath (0-2), Rian Doody (0-1); M Ryan, G O’Neill (2-4, 2-3F), M O’Neill. Subs. J Carr (0-1) for M O’Neill (h/t), D Heffernan for M Ryan (h/t), N Ryan for D O’Dwyer (h/t), D Kelly for K Stapleton (34).
Referee: Philip Kelly