Cappoquin’s bid to become the first Waterford GAA Club to win an All-Ireland Intermediate Club Championship came to an end on Sunday afternoon last when they went under to a strong O’Donovan Rossa side from Belfast at the semi final stages of the competition.
Heading into the game the Cornerstone Men even though they were fancied by many to win knew that they always were going to face a Titanic battle with the Belfast Club as they played Senior hurling in Antrim until relatively recently.
Cusack Park in Mullingar was also a ground that has not proven to be kind to Waterford Club sides in the past.
Mount Sion lost to Dunloy from Antrim in the past and just under twelve months ago Ballysaggart lost out to another side from Antrim – Creggan Kickhams in an All-Ireland Junior Club final replay at the ground.
The Corner-stone men could not have dreamt a worst start to the game than they actually had.
With just 11 seconds on the clock, O’Donovan Rossa were a goal up. A long ball from Michael Armstrong and was diverted by Michael Turley to Thomas Morgan who whipped past Donal O’Rourke in the Cappoquin goal.
Cappoquin would respond with a point from Andy Molumby but the Ulster side would tag on the next two score, a point from a Thomas Morgan free and then the same player played in by Deaglain Murphy netted his second major score of the game on eight minutes to give O’Donovan Rossa a 2-1 to 0-1 lead.
Shane O’Rourke pulled a point back for Cappoquin from a free but it was to be their last score of the half as wind assisted O’Donovan Rossa tagged on the next four scores through Stephen Shanahan, Thomas Morgan, both from placed balls as well as Colm McVeigh and Deaglain Murphy to give them a 2-5 to 0-2 lead at the break.
Things in fact could have been much worse for the Corner-Stone men at the break.
On 15 minutes, the Antrim Club side were awarded a penalty when Colm McVeigh was brought to the ground and facing a three man wall on the Cappoquin goal line Gerard Walsh saw his effort saved by Donal O’Rourke who put the ball out for a ’65 which Stephen Shanahan made no mistake from in splitting the Cappoquin posts. Had the competition been played along the experimental rule used in the early past of the year O’Rourke would have been standing on the line on his own and his job would have been much tougher. (On a personal point of view, I am hoping that delegates to the Annual Convention stick to three on the line when it comes to penalties in hurling).
Cappoquin’s task in the second half in the second half, even if the wind was going to be at their backs was made all the more difficult when Andy Molumby was ordered off by the Carlow referee after he issued him with a second yellow for a pull on Christopher McGuinness.
Although playing with a numerical disadvantage in the second half, Cappoquin began the half the better of the two sides.
Shane O’Rourke and Thomas Morgan traded early second half scores to keep nine between the sides, but points from Shane O’Rourke and Finnan Murray cut that lead to seven.
Stephen Shannon from a ’65 extended the Ulster sides lead before Aaron O’Sullivan having been introduced as a sub just before the break for Shane Coughlan hammered to the net on 45 minutes to leave his side trailing by five (2-7 to 1-5).
Cappoquin failed to get any closer to the Antrim and Ulster Champions in the time that remained.
Stephen Shannon and Paul Murray swapped points before Johnny McGuinness and Killian O’Sullivan did likewise. Cappoquin however were unlucky not to have been closer at this stage as a Shane O’Rourke 20 metre free was saved, but after the ball was worked out the field, Paul Murray did split the posts.
It was O’Donovan Rossa that finished the game the stronger of the two sides as they landed points from Michael Armstrong, Johnny McGuinness who impressed having come on for Colm McVeigh towards the end of the third quarter and Stephen Shannon.
Cappoquin to their credit continued to work hard but the scores that they needed to get them back into the game failed to come their way. They did hit a point with the last puck of the game from a Keith Landers free but it proved to be a mere consolation score.
For the winners, they now look forward to an All-Ireland final appearance against Kilburn Gaels from London at Croke Park next month while Cappoquin are back playing senior hurling for the first time since the mid 1990’s, and will be hoping for a favourable draw when the championship draws are made later this evening at a county board meeting.
O’DONOVAN ROSSA: C McDonnell; C Orchin, E O’Neill, K McDonnell; G Walsh, C McClelland, S Shannon; C McElhatton, D Murphy; C McVeigh, M Armstrong, C McGuiness; M Turley, T Morgan, A Orchin. Subs: C Rocks for McElhatton (38); J McGuinness for McVeigh (42); M Kettle for Turley (48); G Bell for K McDonnell (59); J Quinn for A Orchin (61).
Scorers: T Morgan 2-3 (2fs); S Shannon 0-4 (2 65s); J McGuinness 0-2; M Armstrong, D Murphy, C McVeigh 0-1 each.
CAPPOQUIN: D O’Rourke; K Looby, C Looby, T Looby; P Morrissey, C Murray, D Cahillane; S Murray, P Murray; S O’Rourke, K Landers, A Molumby; S Coughlan, F Murray, K O’Sullivan. Subs: A O’Sullivan for Coughlan (30); PJ Curran for K Looby (38).
Scorers: A O’Sullivan 1-0; S O’Rourke 0-3 (3fs); A Molumby, P Murray, F Murray, K O’Sullivan, K Landers (f) 0-1 each.
Referee: P O’Dwyer (Carlow).