Easkey make Cork hurling kingpins earn their victory the hard way

Back 17/01/2023 @ 12:15 | hurlingnews | Easkey make Cork hurling kingpins earn their victory the hard way

Sligo hurling champion’s Easkey’s All Ireland odyssey ended in defeat at the hands of Cork kingpins Ballygiblin in a well contested All-Ireland Junior Club final on Saturday evening in Croke Park.

The west Sligo men, who made history by being the first ever club to feature in  the All Ireland junior club finals in both hurling and football - the latter in 2019 – fought to the very end and were ultimately outgunned by the experience of their opponents who were defeated narrowly at the same stage of the competition just a year ago.

It was always a big ask against a club coming from the hurling heartlands of the South and to add to the challenge, the Sligomen saw their defence split open straight from the throw in with one time Australian Rules footballer and now Cork senior hurler Mark Keane running straight at the westerners defence to set o-up a goal for Daragh Flynn who found the net,

Andrew Kilcullen replied with an opening free for Easkey but the winners had further points from Shane Beston, Dean Barry and the prolific Joe O’Sullivan to open an early gap.

Joe McHugh finished some good work by Thomas Cawley to keep Easkey in sight but O'Sullivan pointed again to see the Cork men by 1-4 to 0-2 at the half way point. 

Although O’Sullivan, who would end up with ten points in the game, kept the scoreboard ticking over for Ballygiblin with two frees, Easkey had their best spell of the game in the ten minutes before half time with better possession around the middle of the field and excellent scores by Kilcullen (two), Rory McHugh and Mikey Gordon bringing them to within a score as the half time break approached  

The winners however hit two crucial scores in added time from O’Sullivan and corner forward Cathail  O’Mahony to takle a five point difference into the break,

After an early exchange of second half points between Shane Beston and Andrew Kilcullen, a fine long-range point from Donall Hanley reduced the margin to four and Easkey were challenging Ballygiblin all over the field.  The Sligomen could never get any closer however and three successive O’Sullivan points opened out the margin to seven and the eventual winners were beginning to look comfortable.

Kilcullen, Joe McHugh and Thomas Cawley added scores for Easkey but O’Sullivan and O’Mahony pushed the Munster champions on to secure a victory that was deserved but which the battling Easkey had made the winners work hard to get.

Easkey; Jimmy Gordon; Fionn Connolly, James Weir, Shane Molloy; Ronan Molloy, Eoghan Rua McGowan, Dónall Hanley (0-1); Finnian Cawley, Niall Kilcullen; Rory McHugh (0-1), Mikey Gordon (0-1), Thomas Cawley (0-1); Fionn Moylan, Andrew Kilcullen (0-5 3f), Joe McHugh (0-2)

Subs; Gavin Connolly for Hanley (46), Éanna Moylan for Fionn Moylan (51), Bernard Feeney (C) for Shane Molloy (55), Luke Reddy for Ronan Molloy (61), Thomas Rolston for Finnian Cawley (63)

Ballygiblin; Christopher Noonan; Lorcan Finn, Fionn Herlihy, James Mullins; Barry Coffee, Mark Keane, Michael Lewis; Ryan Donegan, Killian Roche; Darragh Flynn (1-0), Joseph O'Sullivan (0-10 6f ‘65), Shane Beston (0-2); Cathail O'Mahony (0-3), Seán O'Sullivan, Dean Barry (0-1)

Subs; Kieran Duggan for Barry (34), Dillon Sheehan for Seán O'Sullivan (54), Patrick Malloy for Beston (60), Aaron O'Brien for Roche (62), Cian O'Brien for Finn (63)

Referee; Caymon Flynn  (Westmeath)