It is hard to believe but we have begun our Junior championship campaign yet again. With last year’s dismay at the final hurdle against Na Piarsaigh still very fresh in the minds, our first team were pitted against Bishopstown, while our second team who had progressed to the semi final in 2005 were drawn against St. Nicks. Thirteen teams compete it out for the honours in the A grade and the inclusion of a C Grade Championship has meant the same number of teams will compete it out for honours in the B grade in 2006, which is a reduction on the number of teams that competed in the grade last year. However while there is a “back-door” option available to teams in the A Grade who lose their opening round games, no such facility is available in the B Grade which continues on a straight knock-out basis.
Some twenty-fours after the success of our first fifteen, our second team had a most emphatic victory over St. Nicks at Rathpeaconï¿½s grounds. Buoyed on by the availability of a number of A panellists, available to play with this team as they had not played the previous morning, Whiteï¿½s Cross were very quick into their stride with an early Damian Kenneally goal, after some clever interplay with Alf McEvoy, who was proving a right handful for the Nicks fullback. Eoghan Kelleher and Roy O Driscoll also tacked on early scores as they benefited hugely, from the dominant play of our midfield pairing of Rick Burke and Martin Kelleher.
Prising open the Nicks defence at will, the Cross wasted some good scoring chance by continually going for goal, when the point scoring opportunity would have been the clever option. Nicks fought their way back into the game with three scores before the break, but were deflated once more by a cheeky lob of their keeper by Kenneally and White’s Cross led at the break 2-6 to 0-4.
Sean Murnane, who had played an outstanding opening 30 minutes, in a roaming corner back role, as the Nicks decision to play a third midfielder totally back-fired, was withdrawn with an ankle injury. However Brian Murphy proved a most able replacement for him, as he illustrated the same battling qualities of Murnane. Sean’s brothers Padraig and Breandain, in the central defensive positions, helped ride out the inevitable Nicks revival at the start of the second half. Alongside them Derek O Connor, Brian Humphreys and William Casey were equally dominant as they contained their opponents to a solitary point in the second thirty. Billy Sheahan compounded Nicks misery on forty five minutes with an excellent penalty save. Meantime the hard-working Roy O Driscoll snuck in for a well-taken goal. The Cross then had the luxury of introducing five sets of fresh legs into the game and each of these lads made their impression, with Colin Lawless and Philip O Connell pegging on further scores.
Team: Billy Sheahan, Derek O Connor, Padraig Munane (Captain), Sean Murnane, Brian Humphreys, Breandain Murnane, William Casey, Martin Kelleher, Rick Burke (0-1), Roy O Driscoll (1-2), Colm Sheanhan (0-1), Thomas Meade, Eoghan Kelleher (0-2), Alf McEvoy (0-2), Damian Kenneally (2-1). Subs Used: Brian Murphy, Paul Morley, Colin Laweless (0-1), Philip O Connell (0-1), Pat Casey.
The first White’s Cross team illustrated in this opening round clash that they have lost none of the hunger that saw them reach the final of the 2005 competition, with this comprehensive defeat of Bishopstown at a sun-drenched Ballinlough grounds. Team captain Murt Kelleher was quick to lead his troops into action by scoring two fine points in the opening couple of minutes. Along with his midfield partner John Drummy, they proceeded to take a complete stranglehold of the match for most of its 60 minutes. Inside them, Donnacha Murnane, fresh from his valiant efforts with the Seandun Senior footballers, was showing very well early on, and caused havoc in the Bishopstown defence, as we raced into a four point lead.
However the ‘Town clawed their way back into the game with three unanswered points to leave the minimum between the sides after 15 minutes. However between there and the break White’s Cross had six unanswered scores from Kevin Buckley, Bryan O Sullivan, Donnacha Murnane, Conor Kelleher, and a pair from the hard-working Drummy.
In the second half, White’s Cross continued to dominate, and but for some wayward shooting would have amassed a much greater tally. Bishopstown battled all they could but were not able to break down a White’s Cross rearguard where John O Connell, Pat O Driscoll, John Meade and Eoin Murnane were all very dominant.
We now by-pass Round Two of the competition, where the “½back-door” series of games take place, and the remaining teams are put into the hat for the following round of ties.
In the Under 21 Championship our footballers came up a cropper to a highly fancied Mayfield side in a quarter final clash. Losing out on a score-line of 1-9 to 1-7, White’s Cross were left to rue some excellent goal-scoring opportunities. Our two man full forward line of Bryan O Sullivan and Colm Keane thrived on the extra space afforded them but were denied time-after-time by excellent saves from the Mayfield custodian. Others to play well for the Cross in this clash included captain Eoin Murnane, Brian Boland, Paul Whooley, Victor O Sullivan, Ian Kavanagh and Pat Casey.
Meantime the Minor footballers had two further successes in the past month, as well as commencing their A Hurling League with impressive victories over Mayfield and Valley Rovers. In the football they destroyed Shamrocks at Shanbally, with Shane Cahill scoring his second hatrick of goals this season. They followed this up with a victory over Carrigaline on 5-5 to 3-5. Paul Walsh and Sean C Burke both made immediate impacts to this team on their returns after periods of absence, with Walsh scoring 2 goals and Burke a further three pointer. Shan Cahill did not manage to get into the goal-scoring action in this one, but did knock over the opening two points of the game. White’s Cross are poised for a league semi-final position here, having suffered just one defeat and with only Crosshaven remaining on the fixture list.