Historic Day as Passage West Claim Junior A Hurling Title
Writes Noel Collins
It might have taken 61 years to win a Junior A Hurling Championship, but those Passage supporters who were privileged to be at Ballinlough on Sunday didn't mind the wait as they saw their team gain an emphatic win over north-siders St Vincent’s to claim a historic victory for the club.
Both teams went into the game unbeaten this season, St Vincent’s drawing with Passage in the League and reaching the final with the defeat of Glen Rovers, while Passage had a hard fought victory over Na Piarsaigh in their semi-final.
A large crowd turned up at City Division headquarters to soak up the atmosphere and cheer on their teams as they paraded behind the Ballyphehane band prior to throw-in. It was St Vincent’s who started quickest, with Luke Callanan putting over a good point from play inside the opening minute. Blake Murphy soon followed with St Vincent’s second point.
Former Cork senior hurler Cian Mc Carthy settled the Passage nerves with a pointed free on three minutes, followed by a Graham Carroll point from play to level matters. Passage then had a huge moment in the game when first Shane Howard found the Vincent’s net with a thunderous strike, quickly followed just seconds later when Mc Carthy caught a high dropping ball and despite being held up, managed to blast the ball low past Craig Cahill into the St Vincent’s goal. It left Passage 2-02 to 0-2 with 7 minutes gone.
St Vincents came back with two points, one each from Johnathan O’Mahony and a Blake Murphy free. Minutes later, a St Vincent’s 21 yard free was blasted to the net by Blake Murphy to bring the tie back to within one point, as the game hit the quarter hour mark.
The Passage response was swift and clinical. Corner forward Conor Coughlan cut in from the right wing to beat Craig Cahill and grab his side's third goal of the game. Vincent’s, trying desperately to stay in the contest, responded with two points from Luke Callanan and a Gavin Mc Carthy free.
But Passage managed to pull away again after midfielder Graham Carroll won a ball around the middle and powered his way past a few tackles before hitting a high shot that ended up in the net for the fourth Passage goal, 4-02 to 1-06.
From there to the break, Passage dominated with the defense, ably led by captain Ronan Harrington, holding firm, while the midfield of Ryan and Graham Carroll kept feeding the forward line where Cian Mc Carthy and Shane Howard dictated the play. Points from Ryan Carroll, Cathal Mc Carthy, Conor Coughlan and a Cian McCarthy free added to the Passage tally, while Gavin Mc Carthy and Blake Murphy had points for St Vincent’s, ending the half-time score at Passage 4-06 to St Vincent’s 1-08.
St Vincent’s needed to start the second half well if they were to have any chance of stopping the Passage juggernaut, but Passage put the game to bed inside the opening minute. A long ball out of defense found Niall Mc Carthy who sprinted for goal and slipped past a few tackles before finishing to the net. Minutes later, Cian Mc Carthy had goal number six as he caught a high ball and again slipped it past a helpless Craig Cahill.
From there to the finish Passage were well on top. Try as they might, St Vincent’s could not make any impression on the scoreboard. Three Points from Cian Mc Carthy, and a final point from Anthony Kidney had Passage deserving winners on a scoreline of 6-10, to 1—10. The City Division Junior A Cup was presented to Captain Ronan Harrington by Seandun Board Chairman Mick Higgins, while Cian Mc Carthy won the match of match trophy.
Overall it was a wonderful display by the Passage team and they had winners all over the field on the day. Aidan Long was superb in goal, the six backs led by Eoin Murphy and Ronan Harrington were all outstanding, holding a tight reign on the Vincents forwards who themselves got four goals against the Glen. Midfield had the two Carroll’s, Ryan and Graham putting in a great non-stop performance, while the six forwards ably led by Shane Howard and Cian Mc Carthy, who managed to score 2—05.
Niall Mc Carthy and Conor Coughlan troubled their markers all day by their clever play. The management team of Eoin Griffin, Teddy Mc Carthy, James Barrett, John O Connor, Billy O Regan, John O’ Neill, and the stats team of Sean O’Mahony and Eoin Barry deserve great credit for the work and dedication and effort put in during the season. Now Passage go forward to the County final where they will meet Ballinascarthy, who beat St Mary’s in the Carbery Final on Sunday.
PASSAGE: A Long; C McCarthy, E Murphy, R Cooney; A Kidney, R Harrington, S Harrington; R Carroll,G Carroll; J Carroll, N McCarthy, L Hanlon; S Howard, C McCarthy, C Coughlan.
Subs: J Healy for L Hanlon (50), A Murphy for C Coughlan (58).
Passage Scores, C. Mc Carthy – 2:05 (0:04 F, 0:01 65,) C. Coughlan & G. Carroll -1:01 each, N. Mc Carthy & S. Howard 1:00 each, R. Carroll, C. Mc Carthy & A. Kidney – 0:01 each.