Back in 2007, when White’s Cross GAA put forward a new trophy to honour one of the Club’s greatest stalwarts, to replace the existing Seandún Junior A Football Championship trophy, they had secret hopes of getting their hands back on it soon. That target was reached in 2008 when we were crowned Junior A Football Champions for only the second time in the Club’s history. Now that we have had our hands on the Cup we are slow to part company, and are trying our utmost to keep this Cup in its rightful home for a second twelve month stint. We can make this claim to ownership because of course Joe O Callaghan (RIP) was the heartbeat of White’s Cross GAA for many a long year.
The team has again qualified for the divisional championship final, now sponsored by the Silversprings Moran Hotel, where a tough battle lies ahead with the league champions of 2008, St Finbarrs. It is the fourth time in the past five years that White’s Cross have reached the final stage of the championship, but under the stewardship of Finbarr Kiely, this side seem as intent as ever on success. However the Togher club is on a real crest of a wave in recent times, and have made very steady progress with the big ball in recent years, culminating of course in their Senior side qualifying for the 2009 Senior County Final. Thus our lads will have to be at their very best to see off the challenge of the Barrs second side, and the championship victory over the same opposition will count for very little on final day. This was a lesson harshly learnt by our own county senior footballers in their recent joust with the Kingdom.
As mentioned, White’s Cross opened this year’s championship campaign with a win over St. Finbarrs, back in May on a 1-8 to 0-10 scoreline. Thus the Barrs had to avail of the back-door and this they did to the optimum. Initially they accounted for St Michaels with a facile victory 3-9 to 0-3. They followed this up with a 2-10 to 0-14 victory over Douglas, albeit after a replay. This qualified them for a semi-final pairing with St. Nicholas where once more they really turned on the style and won out very comprehensively 3-15 to 0-7.
Meantime our first-round success allowed us by-pass the back-door games and into a quarter final clash with Brian Dillons where we won out, 0-12 to 0-8. This paved the way for a repeat of last years final pairing, and another joust with Nemo Rangers. However the Nemo side of 2009 was a different beast from that of 2008. With former Cork star Joe Kavanagh taking the role of captain, it seemed that some of their fromer senior greats including John Paul O Neill and David Niblock, decided to ply their trade at Junior grade.
Indeed when Nemo’s Shane Horgan kicked his fourth free in the 56th minute to tie the game at nine points a-piece, it looked as though the reigning champions were about to be undone by our own failings in front of goal. Fourteen wides in total, many of them from good scoring positions, meant that White’s Cross had failed to kill off their opponents. Up stepped midfielder Denis O’Regan however and his point in the 58thminute was the difference between the teams at the final whistle.
According to independent news reporters commenting on the game White’s Cross were the better team through-out. Eoin Murnane led by example from centre-back and brought the ball forward at every opportunity. Murt Kelleher had a superb sixty minutes also and his surging runs from midfield caused the Nemo defence huge problems. Up front Edwin Buckley was a constant threat in the inside forward line.
Nemo for their part lacked the firepower upfront to really trouble their opponents. They could only manage three points from play over the course of the game, two of them from the boot of veteran Kavanagh.
White’s Cross started the better and Edwin Buckley was unlucky to see his shot come back from the crossbar in the second minute. We had another goal opportunity in the 20thminute. This time the chance fell to Donnacha Murnane, but his shot was saved by McNally in the Nemo goal. The follow up from Stuart Kiely was somehow blocked by Leonard McCarthy and Nemo survived.
A good run and score from Edwin Buckley had Cross three clear with fifteen minutes remaining, but three Nemo frees had them back on level terms by the 56th minute. O’Regan’s winner was enough to take Whites Cross to the 2009 final.
The final takes place in Ballinlough on Sunday, October 4th at 4pm.