Considering that White’s Cross won the Junior A Football League title for the fourth time in the Club’s history (1994, 2001, 2006 & 2009), on the 29th November last, the length of the playing year is illustrated by the fact the Club has 5 rounds of the 2010 league completed in mid-March! The format of this year’s Junior A football league has been restructured. In past seasons each club played each other team once, culminating in approximately 13 games, with the top 4 qualifying for the league semi-finals. White’s Cross has been involved in these semi-finals in every season since 2001. This year however, with some additional teams in the league, two sections each containing eight teams have been created. Each team in the sections will play against each other, totalling 7 games – the top four in both sections will then play off for the league title, with the bottom four in each section fighting the dreaded relegation battle.
The new format has not hindered the consistent league form of the Cross, as they remain unbeaten thus far, as per the attached league table. Since last month’s up-date which detailed the win over Delaneys; Brian Dillons, St. Vincents, Bishopstown and St. Finbarrs have all been defeated. Each of these games proved quite a tussle for our lads, with the result in doubt in many of these encounters until very late in the game.
The tussle with our near neighbours Brian Dillons proved another real ding-dong battle, as each of our encounters has done in recent years. In fact it was Dillons did the early running in this game, and despite playing against a strong wind, had the tonic of an early goal to lead midway through the opening half. However White’s Cross did not panic and responded with a similar score after Conor Kelleher was on hand to slot home after some very enterprising play between Edwin Buckley and Jonathan Kenneally. Despite incessant Dillons pressure in the second thirty the White’s Cross defence, with Brian Murphy and Donal Kelly very prominent, held firm. At the opposite end of the field new recruit Ken O Keeffe made a timely entry and slotted over two fine points to assist White’s Cross to a 1-9 to 1-6 victory.
One week later, we travelled to take on St. Vincents another side well known to the Cross in recent years – these northside rivals had defeated White’s Cross in each of our three previous league encounters. However a goal from wing-forward Paddy O Brien proved the defining score in this outing to help us eke out a 1-10 to 0-7 win. The switch of Eoin Murnane to full-back and John O Connell out to centre-back for the second half of this game proved a master-stroke by the Cross management, as both players excelled in their temporary positions. Elsewhere Paul O Sullivan also had an excellent outing, picking off three lovely points.
In Round 4 it was off to Bishopstown, where the Cross were flattered to win-out on a 3-7 to 0-7 scoreline. Played in a pitch that was never going to be conducive to open football, this was a tie littered with mistakes from both teams. In the opening half the Bishopstown defence did an outstanding job of closing down the White’s Cross forward play, forcing our lads to kick from distance. A blistering ten minute spell at the start of the second half, culminating in Stuart Kiely notched up two goals finally swung the game our way. John O Connell was immense in defence, ably assisted by Sean Gorman and Seanie Murnane.
The next league encounter pitted us against our opponents from last season’s championship final, St. Finbarrs. However home advantage, on a splendid morning, proved telling in this excellent game of football. While the Barrs held control at midfield early on, Denis O Regan and Murt Kelleher began to exert dominance to help sway proceedings our way. Edwin Buckley finished with a peach of a goal, after an excellent through ball from Donal Kelly after 20 minutes, and from there to the break White’s Cross were dominant. Team captain Conor Buckley led by example during the second thirty minutes, and after a compelling encounter White’s Cross won out 3-10 to 1-10, with Murt Kelleher and Edwin Buckley scoring the decisive goals