Both White’s Cross Junior Football sides finally re-entered the championship arena again after long lay-offs, since early round victories for both sides during April. The Junior A side, who defeated Rathpeacon in their opening round encounter, were next pitted against St. Michaels in a third round clash. White’s Cross emerged victorious from this tussle with the lads from Blackrock on a 1:14 to 2:4 score-line. This set them up for a quarter final clash with Na Piarsaigh. These northside rivals had beaten White’s Cross in the 2005 Final, while we avenged somewhat that defeat at the semi-final stage on route to our maiden championship crown in 2006.
The latest clash was set alight by a powerful early goal by White’s Cross corner-forward Paul O’ Sullivan, who scored superbly after some quick thinking by the hard-working Edwin Buckley. Buckley, after being fouled played a quick free inside to Conor Kelleher who hand-passed the ball to the on-running O’ Sullivan, and he placed it expertly into the corner of the Piarsaigh net. The goal set up the Cross very nicely and a succession of points saw us lead at the short whistle 1:7 to 0:3.
Another well-placed ball from Buckley after 41 minutes, this time to Stuart Kiely put the tie beyond doubt, as Kiely goaled again for White’s Cross. However the plaudits for this win must be attributed to a very hard-working defence. Goal-keeper Billy Sheahan pulled off two excellent saves during the second-half, while John O Connell was always in control at full-back. Outside him, Eoin Murnane held the centre, while Donal Kelly and John Meade always worked hard. The midfielders John Drummy and Paddy O Brien must also be praised for their excellent work-rate up-and-down the field.
In the end White’s Cross won out on a 2:9 to 0:7 score-line, to set themselves up for a semi-final pairing with Douglas. Nemo Rangers await the winners in the final, having come through from the other side of the draw.
Meantime the fortunes of our second football side were not so good. While a comfortable championship win against St. Finbarrs helped them progress, a meeting with Lough Rovers always looked ominous, given the big defeat they had inflicted on our lads in early season league action. In dreadful weather, this quarter final clash was always going to be a dour affair and so it was! In fact it took a replay to separate the two sides, the drawn game finishing 0-8 apiece. In both clashes, Brian Conway marshalled matters in the goal-mouth very well, while Richie Sherlock, Padraig Murnane, William Casey, Martin Kelleher and Derek O Connor all defended stoically. Pat Casey put in huge performances at midfield, while along side him Denis O Regan worked tirelessly particularly in the replay. Sean Murnane, who missed the drawn game, played a might sixty minutes in the replay, while inside him Colin Lawless and Brian Healy, played blinders in the opening thirty minutes of both games. However it was noticeable in the second half of both games, and what most likely led to our down-fall was, the inside line was starved of quality ball.
The drawn game hung on tender-hooks and it took an inspirational run and fine kick from Pat Casey in the last minute, to give our lads a second chance. In the replay an early goal settled the Lough nicely, but our own lads stuck to the game-plan. This culminated in full-forward Paul Noonan winning more good possession from a long-ball; he in turn laid off a pass to the on-running Casey and he goaled smartly. In the second-half we again started poorly and the Lough tagged on early points. While our lads cannot be faulted for effort, they must feel they could so easily have turned this 1-8 to 1-6 defeat into victory. The Lough march on to a semi-final pairing with Ballyphehane, while our lads are left to lick their championship wounds once more!