Historic Back-to-Back Titles

At the time of going to print, the green-and-white flags and bunting etc. around Upper Glanmire and White’s Cross so evident for the previous month, is steadily becoming scarcer and returned to storage.  October has been a whirlwind of activity in White’s Cross with our Junior A footballers playing three historic games in as many weeks.  While it all came to a shuddering halt in Rathcormac on October 17th, history will record it as a great time for White’s Cross GAA.

The month commenced with the Moran’s Silversprings sponsored Junior A Football Championship final on Sunday, October 4th in Ballinlough.  Here White’s Cross were matched up against a St. Finbarr’s side who were looking for a revenge, having been defeated by the Cross in the opening round of the championship last May, only to avail of the back-door route.  The Barrs were also anxious to atone somewhat for the disappointment of the previous Sunday when their Senior Footballers had lost their county final clash with Clonakilty.  

However White’s Cross weren’t going to relinquish this title easily, and were very keen to return the Championship Cup back to its rightful home in White’s Cross.  This is something that can be claimed with justification, given that the cup is named after former club stalwart Joe O Callaghan (R.I.P.).  Their was also the added incentive of qualifying for a County Quarter Final showdown with Cloyne, a repeat of the 2008 qualifier, were the East-Cork side won out on the slenderest of margins.  One game at a time however…!

In the divisional final, while corner-forward Edwin Buckley received all the plaudits, a mean White’s Cross defense must also take great credit.  While Buckley was in rampant form up front, the likes of Billy Sheahan, Sean Gorman, John O’ Connell and Sean Murnane were giving nothing away easily.  Outside them Eoin Murnane marshaled the centre-back berth with total command, while Murt Kelleher and Denis O’ Regan had a vice-like grip on centre of field proceedings.

Such was the dominance of the White’s Cross defense it took until injury time at the end of the first half for the Barr’s to finally register a score; meantime Buckley and company had tacked on a goal and six points.  The Barr’s did open the second half with its two first points but Buckley put-an-end to any of their lofty ambitions with a sublime goal in the 40th minute, to help the Cross into a 2-8 to 0-3 lead.  The Togher lads fought to the bitter end but it continued to prove a great day for the Cross, winning out 2-13 to 1-5 in the finish.  

There were great scenes of celebration at the final whistle and the large White’s Cross following was on hand to give a rousing reception to captain Paddy O Brien, on receiving the Cup from Divisional Chairperson Michael O Shea.  Edwin Buckley picked up the man of the match award; a highly credible achievement considering he also picked up the equivalent accolade in the 2006 decider

And More Joy but also Heartache

There was great celebrations on the night of the championship final back in the Stirrup Bar, but the squad was back in training the following night again, as they now could talk of revenge against Cloyne.  The defeat to the East Cork side had proven a bitter pill to swallow a year previous, when it was felt the team had let themselves and its management down.

With three minutes left in this very physical encounter it looked as though defeat was to be our lot again, when Diarmuid O’ Sullivan had fisted home a goal to help Cloyne into an unlikely lead.  However from the immediate kickout, keeper Billy Sheahan pinpointed his aim to wing back John Drummy who plucked a wonderful ball from the air.  Seconds later it was in the possession of Edwin Buckley and he neatly tucked over the bar to equalize.  If the Cloyne lads were stunned by this quick reply, what followed broke them completely.  Conor Buckley kicked a great lead point and his brother Kevin, who despite carrying an injury joined the fray for the final 15 minutes, scored 2 fine scores to seal an historic White’s Cross win 1-10 to 1-7.

The joy at the final whistle in Carrigtwohill was in stark contrast to the utter heartache experienced by this White’s Cross side seven days later in Rathcormac.  The games were coming thick-and-fast and it was Glanworth was the opposition for the County Semi-Final.  This proved to be a hugely entertaining game of football, at least for the neutrals, in the very large attendance.  Glanworth got off to a blistering start and raced into a 1-5 to 0-2 lead after 15 minutes.  However the White’s Cross lads did not panic, and had brought themselves level at the half-time break at 0-8 to 1-5.  Paul O Sullivan pair of scores were the pick of the best from this White’s Cross onslaught.

However Glanworth started the second half well also and tacked on two points.  White’s Cross fought their way back again, with some fine scores from Stuart Kiely and a huge effort from Murt Kelleher.  With five minutes to go White’s Cross actually took the lead for the first time with Conor Buckley putting over a neat score.  However it then began to all go horribly wrong for the Cross, as Glanworth benefited from a number of relatively soft frees, one leading to an equalizer and another a lead point.  With a further point from play they found themselves leading by two.  Murt Kelleher did flash a late free at the Glanworth goal but it ended up over the bar, and the North Cork lads held out for a one point lead – 1:12 to 0:14.

Thus for the second year in a row White’s Cross have seen their County ambitions thwarted by one point defeats.  With little time to reflect on this latest loss as yet, it is unlikely to rest easy with the White’s Cross boys.  When one considers that more than 80 sides enter this competition each year it is a long and arduous road back to being one of the final four.  Here’s hoping however that in 12 months or so we will be rummaging out that green and white bunting once again!

A sincere thank you to the huge support White’s Cross received from all age-groups in the past number of weeks – we hope that all the good days will not be numbed by one disappointing one…!