Sunday 25th November
The day comes at last, the day of reckoning. Can we really win a Munster championship we ask ourselves, can that really happen to us? The weather is lovely, spirits are high on the supporters’ bus while the players are relaxed and joking but focused.
Arriving in Mallow we are impressed with the venue and facilities, fitting of such an occasion. As the players are warming up streams of cars are passing in decked in Green and Red. The excitement is building and they can’t wait to get out on the field. The Fermoy manager has been bullish about their chances but Willie and the lads have installed a great sense of belief and resilience in the players and are ready for the initial onslaught.
Both teams get a great welcome on to the field but no doubting whom has the better supporters, the colours, banners and noise decides that. As the Tipperary referee gets things underway, it is obvious that we are facing a motivated and physically strong team. Noel Duggan opens the scoring with a free but minutes later the ref awards them a penalty and their full forward sneaks it inside the post. There are a number of missed chances on both sides before the ref awards another penalty. This time Brendan is the boss as he shepherds it wide of his right-hand post. We breathe a sigh of relief and are a little worried, but Noel Duggan reassures us with a fine point and when Matt Keane taps over a beauty a minute later we are back on level terms 0-3 to 1-0.
With seven minutes left in the half we trail by a single point but there was no shortage of drama as firstly Sean O’Leary had a goal chance cleared and then Gary O’Leary was penalised when we thought it was our turn for a penalty. While our supporters were showering the ref with praise, the players were unfazed and added three points before the half time whistle. Firstly Noel Duggan levelled, Matt Keane added his second and then Kevin McCarthy shook off all his markers to kick a sublime point. Half time arrives and as the players leave the field leading 0-6 to1-1 they are replaced by Under 8’s from both clubs for an exhibition of skills and enthusiasm.
Supporters, despite some nervy moments are generally confident seeing that we had assumed a measure of control in the last 10 minutes and had kicked some good scores. The second half gets underway with Kelvin Teahan replacing the injured Padraig Nagle and within two minutes Matt Keane kicks his third point and we lead by three. Five minutes later Sean O’Leary drives forward from defence and as we lead by four we lose Noel Duggan to injury. Ian Devane enters the fray just before Fermoy convert another free and we are back to three again. Fermoy are dangerous but our defence is outstanding. Brendan Kealy saves superbly while William Maher clears the follow up off the line. Donal Maher is having a blinder while the cousins Philip Casey and Daniel Moynihan have their opponents under their control.
Ten minutes to go and up steps Kieran Murphy with a massive point which was invaluable as we had fluffed a few chances earlier. However, back came Fermoy with another free to unsettle us again but when the ever-reliable Philip Casey came forward to kick one of his trademark points we were really starting to believe. Three minutes left, and Gary O’Leary lands a great score following an interception in defence. Bizarrely he receives a black card and is replaced for the final minutes by Damien O’Leary. Kevin McCarthy leaves the field to a thunderous applause and standing ovation and is replaced by his brother John. Entering the final moments Daniel O’Leary gathers in defence and sets a move in motion that involves six Kilcummin players and culminates with Ian Devane finishing to the net. Enter delirium in the stand and on the sideline, as Willie Maher does his own version of Riverdance.
All we need now is the ref to blow and when he finally does he releases a wave of sheer delight and wild celebrations as the faithful followers envelop the players on the field. As Brendan Kealy is presented with the Ristard O Chuimin Cup there were tears in the eyes of lifelong club members. In a team of heroes it is necessary to acknowledge their contribution to this historic win. Brendan Kealy as player and captain showed once more his All-Star class and leadership qualities. Philip Casey, Donal Maher and Daniel Moynihan were superb and kept their direct opponents scoreless from play. William Maher showed all his astuteness and ability to read a game so well and his clearance off the line was crucial.
Sean O’Leary and Chris O’Leary played a massive role in this victory as the mastered their illustrious opponents over the hour. Kevin Gorman gave an inspirational performance throughout and executed a marvellous catch under the crossbar late in the game. Kieran Murphy is crucial to Kilcummin and his return to form after a long layoff from injury was welcome. He played very well and his point from play was brilliant. Our half forward line of Shane McSweeney, Gary O’Leary and Padraig Nagle put in a great shift helping in defence throughout and getting forward to create scoring opportunities for the full forward line. Our inside line of Matt Keane, Noel Duggan and Kevin McCarthy were superb and accounted for seven points between them. Kelvin Teahan was lively and involved after being introduced while Ian Devane will be delighted to be at the end of that great move. Daniel O’Leary, John McCarthy and Damien O’Leary were all involved in the move that lead to that late goal.
All in all, a great occasion and marvellous result that will remain with us always and when you consider that 1-10 of 1-11 came from play great credit is due to Willie, Kieran, Daniel and Shane O Sullivan. As our supporters headed for home and celebrations there were smiles all round amid the realisation that their club had really arrived on the national club scene.
As we await the All Ireland Semi Final in January we will regroup, play the O’Donoghue Cup Semi-Final and dare to dream.
Team: Brendan Kealy, Philip Casey, Donal Maher, Daniel Moynihan, Sean O’Leary, Chris O’Leary, William Maher, Kieran Murphy, Kevin Gorman, Shane McSweeney, Gary O’Leary, Padraig Nagle, Matt Keane, Kevin McCarthy, Noel Duggan Subs Used: Kelvin Teahan, Ian Devane, Daniel O’Leary, Damien O’Leary, John McCarthy.