2006 Season Review

It was a historic year for White’s Cross as they won all three competitions in the City Divisionat Junior A level, only losing 2 games a long the way. Also the minors won their Championship, and the Junior B team were unlucky to lose in their Championship Final. Here is a review of the year.

Junior A Championship

After a 49 year wait White’s Cross finally landed the JAFC. Beating Bishopstown, Douglas, Na Piarsaigh and St Vincents in the final. Heres a look back on those matches.

White’s Cross 0-13 Bishopstown 0-6

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.

White’s Cross 4-9 Douglas 1-11

A storming first 20 minutes from White’s Cross saw us defeat Douglas, a side that had ended our championship aspirations in 2003 and 2004. Edwin Buckley was fast out of the traps and had tacked on a goal and a point before Douglas had time to settle. Donnacha Murnane and Bryan O’ Sullivan knocked over points and Conor Kelleher goaled so that the Cross led 2-4 to 0-1 after 19 minutes. Douglas responded with three points before the short whistle.

Buckley commenced the second half in a similar fashion to the first, scoring a cheeky goal and Jonathan Kenneally killed off the game as a contest with a fourth goal after 48 minutes. However the credit for this success laid equally with the defenders with Victor O Sullivan, Martin Kelleher, Sean Gorman and Donal Kelly all defending superbly

White’s Cross 0-14 Na Piarsaigh 2-6

In stark contrast to our quarter-final performance, White’s Cross opened this championship encounter in lifeless fashion. This time the forward division completely malfunctioned in the opening 30 and the two solitary points scored came from the surging runs of mid-fielder Murt Kelleher. However the White’s Cross backs again reigned supreme, with John O’ Connell, in for the injured Martin Kelleher, repelling countless Piarsaigh efforts, ably assisted by John Meade, Eoin Murnane and Sean Gorman. At the conclusion of a forgettable first half Piarsaigh led 0-3 to 0-2. Whatever trainer Finbarr Kiely said at the break had the desired effect as White’s Cross played with much greater urgency in the second period. Edwin and Conor Buckley scored points to put us ahead but Piarsaigh responded with a point of their own, on 37 minutes. However in the ensuing 13 minutes White’s Cross tacked on 5 unanswered points from Bryan O’ Sullivan, Murt Kelleher, Edwin Buckley, Conor Buckley and Conor Kelleher. Piaraigh reduced the margin to four before they billowed the back of Billy Sheahan’s net for the game’s first goal. With the margin back to the minimum, White’s Cross responded appropriately with points from O’ Sullivan and Jonathan Kenneally, to restore a three point lead.

However Na Piarsaigh were not going to let go of their crown easily and scored a fine goal on 60 minutes. Referee Denis Linehan, saw it fit to play three minutes of injury time, when many had been expecting a replay. In this additional time Conor Kelleher pointed a free and Murt Kelleher lobbed over another point, after Jonathan Kenneally had cleverly intercepted a fast Piarsaigh kick-out

White’s Cross 0-12 St Vincents 1-4

Junior A Cup

First Round – Bishopstown 3-14 to 0-9
1/4 Final – Mayfield 2-12 to 0-2
1/2 Final – St Finbarrs 0-10 to 0-6
Final -Carrig Na bhFearr 1-7 to 0-5

White’s Cross 1-7 Carraig na bhFear 0-5

The final threw up a novel pairing as we sized up against near-neighbours Carraig na bhFear. The Clubs had not met in a competitive clash at any level in well over 20 years, since White’s Cross Club decided to leave the Imokilly barony and compete instead in the Seandún division – although some would argue that the many ‘friendly’ matches played against each other in the interim had a most competitive edge! Carraig sought and received permission from the Seandún division to compete in this year’s cup competition. On route to this year’s final White’s Cross defeated Bishopstown, Mayfield and St. Finbarrs

In the final itself, in what was a very competitive hour’s football, a goal was always going to be a decisive score in the heavy conditions that prevailed. White’s Cross got this vital score after 11 minutes when centre-forward Kevin Buckley got a fist to a high delivery from Edwin Buckley. This complemented an earlier Donnacha Murnane point and was added to later by similar scores from Murt Kelleher (2), Bryan O Sullivan, Edwin Buckley and Conor Kelleher, leaving the score 1-6 to 0-2 at the short whistle.

However this was a slender enough lead given the gale wind blowing against our lads in the second thirty. The White’s Cross backs stood firm however with Eoin Murnane, John O Connell, John Meade and Victor O Sullivan all excelling, to such a degree that Carraig failed to score from play over the entire 60 minutes. Instead they relied on pointed frees from Colm O Reilly and Eamonn Bowen for all their scores. At the other end man-of-the-match John Drummy tacked on a point to give White’s Cross victory 1-7 to 0-5. This was the Club’s four consecutive year winning the McSwiney Cup final, but more importantly it clinched the treble in A football competition in the Seandún division.

Junior A League

St Michaels 1-11 to 0-5
Douglas 0-8 to 1-9
Brian Dillons 0-4 to 1-4
Na Piarsaigh Won – w/o
Rathpeacon 2-8 to 0-10
St. Vincents 1-7 to 1-6
St. Finbarrs 3-10 to 2-10
Nemo 3-15 to 1-5
Passage 1-19 to 0-3

Championship result v Bishopstown was also counted as League result.

JUNIOR A LEAGUE SEMI-FINAL: WHITE’S CROSS 0-10 ST. VINCENTS 0-8

In a repeat of the Junior A football championship final eincounter, White’s Cross again matched up against St. Vincents in the A League semi-final. Moreover the game was ideal final preparation for our lads, with the fixture coming in six days beore our County Quarter Final clash. Incidentally at the time of going to print, the result of this game versus Courcey Rovers is unknown. The league semi-final outing was played in Ballinlough, where torrential rains and a curtain-raiser had led to very heavy conditions, ensuring that the football was never going to be pretty. However White’s Cross and St Vincents served out very entertaining fare, with John Meade, Donnnacha Murnane, Kevin and Edwin Buckley all particularly effective. White’s Cross meet near neighbours Brian Dillons in the league final.

Incidentally it is worth noting that, since White’s Cross and Whitechurch first amalgamated at Junior level at the beginning of 2001, we have qualified for the league play-offs each season in the Junior A football grade. This would illustrate that we have competed well at the level each year in the intervening six seasons is culminating in the Championship success this year. However it is also worth noting we have capitalised on this good league form rather disappointingly with only one league triumph, and that on our maiden voyage in 2001 against Dillons

JUNIOR A LEAGUE FINAL: WHITE’S CROSS 2-13 BRIAN DILLONS 1-9

The Junior A footballers who lost out to Courcey Rovers in the quarter-final of the County Championship on a score of 1-11 to 1-6, bounced back quickly to defeat Dillons in the league decider. This game played in splendid sunshine at Ballinlough proved a very entertaining contest and the Dillons’ lads competed vigorously to add this scalp to their Junior A hurling Championship success earlier this summer. They rattled the White’s Cross lads with a goal after seven minutes to lead 1-2 to 0-3, against the wind. However White’s Cross responded and quick goals from Conor Kelleher and a splendid Edwin Buckley strike, put them back in the driving seat. Dillons continued to tack on their scores and at the short whistle trailed by only three points, 2-5 to 1-5.

Facing into a strong wind in the second half, Finbarr Kiely had his charges well focused following his half-time chat, and Kevin Buckley knocked over an early point. This was quickly cancelled out by a Dillons equivalent but White’s Cross then entered a second golden period. Four unanswered points put the game beyond Dillons reach but this had as much to do with the tigerish defending of Sean Gorman, John O’ Connell, Eoin Murnane and John Meade at the opposite end of the field.

Junior B Championship

1/4 Final – St. Nicks 3-11 to 0-5
1/2 Final – Ballinure 1-11 to 0-6
Final – Nemo Rangers 1-6 to 1-11

JUNIOR B CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL: NEMO RANGERS 1-11 WHITE’S CROSS 1-6

With the 2006 Junior A title safely in our grasp, the second White’s Cross side endeavoured to make it a Junior Double, but fell at the final hurdle to a very useful Nemo side. White’s Cross were confident going into this game, with convincing earlier round victories and a well-trained panel of players available. No doubt both White’s Cross Junior panels benefited enormously from the fact that each side were involved right up to the finals, as it made for very competitive training sessions, with both panels training together.

However, in this final White’s Cross could not break down the dominance of Nemo in the midfield and half-forward sectors. Captain Padraig Murnane, along with brothers Sean and Breandan, Roy O Driscoll, Derek O Connor, Alfie McEvoy and Philip O Connell battled intensely throughout, to ensure Nemo earned this title. It was a disappointing end to the championship season for this particular team and indeed their efforts warranted greater reward. However, those involved with the Junior A success, earlier in the season, know that such disappointments make victory all the sweeter when it does arrive.

Many of this side did have some compensation for the disappointment two weeks later, as they were involved with Whitechurch hurlers win in the Craobh Rua Cup final. Here we defeated Passage on a 1-15 to 0-6 score-line at Ballinlough.

JUNIOR B CHAMPIONSHIP: WHITE’S CROSS 3-11 ST NICKS 0-5

Some twenty-fours after the success of our first fifteen, our second team had a most emphatic victory over St. Nicks at Rathpeacon’s 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, White’s 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.

Minor Football Championship Final

WHITE’S CROSS 1-10 DELANYS 0-06

On Saturday October 21st, in atrocious conditions at Ballinlough, White’s Cross minor footballers added another divisional championship trophy to the cabinet with a spirited win over a dogged Delanys outfit. Having comprehensively beaten St. Finbarr’s in the semi-final, White’s Cross went into the game as raging favourites. However the driving rain and wind made football very difficult in this final encounter.

Indeed Delanys started the stronger and had two points on the score-board before White’s Cross had time to settle. Paul O Sullivan, who operated very successfully in a roving role between centre and full-forward, opened the White�s Cross scoring after 12 minutes but Delanys added two more in quick succession to lead 4 points to 1 after twenty minutes. However centre-back Denis O Regan began to exert his influence on the game from the centre-back post, and coupled with impressive defending from Richard Sherlock and Brian Boland, drove on the lads in green. Their direct balls into the full-forward line were causing the Delanys defence problems, where Shane Cahill and Paddy Mullins thrived, such that the Delanys defenders had to resort to fouling the lively pair. Paul O Sullivan was happy to convert these free-balls and at half0time White’s Cross led 0-5 to 0-4.

Team manager Paul Noonan drove on his charges at the break, ensuring complacency would not set in. Cahill and O Sullivan tacked on early second half points. Delanys were not going to go down without a fight and battled gamely but Dylan Burke, Ian Lee, Jonathan Scanlon and company were up to the challenge. With scores at a premium in the torrential downpour Shane Chaill’s goal on 50 minutes after a clever through ball from Colm Keane finally killed off the Delanys challenge.

White’s Cross v Carraig na bhFear

The final threw up a novel pairing as we sized up against near-neighbours Carraig na bhFear. The Clubs had not met in a competitive clash at any level in well over 20 years, since White’s Cross Club decided to leave the Imokilly barony and compete instead in the Seandún division – although some would argue that the many ‘friendly’ matches played against each other in the interim had a most competitive edge! Carraig sought and received permission from the Seandún division to compete in this year’s cup competition. On route to this year’s final White’s Cross defeated Bishopstown, Mayfield and St. Finbarrs.

In the final itself, in what was a very competitive hour’s football, a goal was always going to be a decisive score in the heavy conditions that prevailed. White’s Cross got this vital score after 11 minutes when centre-forward Kevin Buckley got a fist to a high delivery from Edwin Buckley. This complemented an earlier Donnacha Murnane point and was added to later by similar scores from Murt Kelleher (2), Bryan O Sullivan, Edwin Buckley and Conor Kelleher, leaving the score 1-6 to 0-2 at the short whistle.

However this was a slender enough lead given the gale wind blowing against our lads in the second thirty. The White’s Cross backs stood firm however with Eoin Murnane, John O Connell, John Meade and Victor O Sullivan all excelling, to such a degree that Carraig failed to score from play over the entire 60 minutes. Instead they relied on pointed frees from Colm O Reilly and Eamonn Bowen for all their scores. At the other end man-of-the-match John Drummy tacked on a point to give White’s Cross victory 1-7 to 0-5. This was the Club’s four consecutive year winning the McSwiney Cup final, but more importantly it clinched the treble in A football competition in the Seandún division.

John Hickey Perpetual Cup

In fond memory of our departed friend John Hickey (R.I.P.), a White’s Cross Fifteen recently took on a Bus Éireann Fifteen at White’s Cross grounds. The White’s Cross side was made up of some of the many players that had played alongside John during his many years of dedicated service to White’s Cross, while the Bus Éireann side was made up of John’s former work colleagues.

John, along with his brothers Andrew and Tommy, were to many the faces of White’s Cross GAA Club for many years. His sudden death at the age of 54 years in September 2005 startled and saddened us all. Our memories of John are of his commitment and passion for sport – for many, many years this was given exclusively to White’s Cross GAA – although in later years he concentrated much of this energy towards cycling.

John gave many years of sterling service to White’s Cross GAA as a player and club officer. Under his chairmanship the Club undertook a complete draining and leveling of the grounds at Ballinvriskig. The Club had a great period of success at the beginning of the 1990’s, with John operating as full-back on both the football and hurling teams. He was a great leader on the field, full of encouragement and praise for those playing with him.

John will be remembered fondly in GAA circles, not alone in White’s Cross but right across the city and into the county. John had acted as Board Delegate for White’s Cross GAA for over 15 years right up to the mid-1990’s.

It is fitting then that John would be remembered for his sterling service to our Club and this game is now to be an annual event. In 2007 White’s Cross will seek to wrestle the cup off the Bus Éireann side as they had the upper hand in the recent clash, although a number of the White’s Cross lads questioned some refereeing decisions of an reiteoir Paul O’ Neill! Afterwards at a function in the Stirrup Bar, John’s wife Kathleen presented the cup to Bus Éireann captain Mick Dunne. Commemorative medals were also presented to all the players by White’s Cross president Dermot Whooley. White’s Cross GAA is most grateful to Bus Éireann who put forward the Perpetual Cup for this annual game.