Munster Junior Club Hurling Final
Russell Rovers 2-13
Saint Mary’s 0-11
There was no joy for county champions Saint Mary’s on Sunday last in the Munster Junior Club Hurling final as they finished second best to a very strong Russell Rovers side whose ability to hit goals on the day proved the difference between the sides. This game was moved from Fermoy to Fraher Field following the weather alerts indicating that Storm Atiyah was on the way and the Munster Council deserve huge praise for splitting the two junior finals, which they had fixed for Mallow, and bringing the starts forward to allow patrons to get home in daylight before the storm set in.
Saint Mary’s would have known that the two Russell Rovers corner forwards Brian Hartnett and Josh Beausang were going to be the two biggest dangers to their chances of winning a first provincial title and it was the performances of this pair that proved instrumental in the East Cork side winning, as Josh Beausang netted a goal with the games first attack and Hartnett netted a second for the Cork side eight minutes from the hour mark, a score which proved to be the winning of the game.
Saint Mary’s won the toss and opted to play with the wind at their backs in the first half, but when they went in at the break locked 1-4 to 0-7, they knew it would take a big second half performance, playing into the wind, if they were to win.
Played out in front of a paying attendance of 1,610, Russell Rovers got off to a brilliant start when Brian Hartnett played in Josh Beausang for a goal struck from close range inside a minute of the throw in.
When Jack McGrath followed up with a point within a minute of the early goal, the sizeable Saint Mary’s support, which came from across the county, were wondering was it going to be one of those days. The Touraneena men however hit back with an opening point from top scorer Eoin Kearns from a placed ball which was cancelled out on six minutes with a score from Kieran Walsh. Sean Fitzpatrick followed up with another point for Saint Mary’s to leave that early goal between the sides.
Aidan Kearney made a timely interception form a Josh Beausang effort which seemed destined for the back of the net on nine minutes, but the former inter-county hurlers touch deflected the ball out for a ’65 which Beausang missed while playing into the strong wind.
Eoin Kearns and Josh Beausang swapped scored from placed balls with 18 minutes played. Kevin Moynihan pointed for the East Cork side on 20 minutes, but this proved to be their last score of the half, as the Touraneena men enjoyed a period of dominance.
Two Eoin Kearns points, the second of which came from open play, narrowed the gap to one and when Dermot Tobin put over an excellent score on 26 minutes it looked as if it might be St Mary’s Day but alas it was not to be. Saint Mary’s should have been in front at this stage. They had a clear-cut penalty call on 16 minutes, just moments after Josh Beausang pointed to give his side a 1-3 to 0-3 lead, when Mike Kearns was pulled down in the box.
The big full forward refused to make a meal of things and the referee, who was some way off the play, decided not to award a penalty.
In the first minute of added time Jason Sheehan had a goal attempt smothered by the Russell Rovers defence, while Eoin Kearns with the final puck of the half put a pressure free from 55 metres out just to the left of the left hand upright. Kevin Sheehan gave St Mary’s the lead early in the second half but they were not long in front as Josh Beausang, with a brace of frees, edged his side in front on 35 minutes. Eoin Kearns levelled matters on 38 minutes for the Touraneena men but this was as good as it got for them.
Playing with the aid of a very strong wind into the town goal Beausang, from a free, and Jack McGrath pointed for the Cork side before Beausang put over a delightfully struck sideline cut at the midway point of the of the second half to put his side three points up.
Eoin Kearns and Beausang scored from frees to keep three between the sides and on 50 minutes Jack Power had a goal effort deflected out for a ’65 which, when struck by Eoin Kearns, fell just short.
Brian Hartnett pointed for the East Cork side on 51 minutes and with the next attack he found himself one on one with Saint Mary’s net minder John Patrick Fitzpatrick and finished to the net to all but secure the win for his side as it put them seven points up.
JJ Coffey and Josh Beausang swapped scores before Beausang added another brace of frees to ensure that the title was heading to Cork for the second year in a row.