WINTER hurling again in all its finery as Kildorrery finally make the big breakthrough in the Cork County JHC after
another dramatic Sunday afternoon at Páirc Uí Rinn.

Two weeks ago themselves and Brian Dillon’s served up the hurling game of the year on Leeside when it was unable to drive a wedge between them and the second instalment here was another incredible and nerve jangling contest that graphically illustrated the stark contrast between winning and losing a county final.

In many ways this replay was an exact replica of the drawn match. Brian Dillon’s again ahead by three points coming down the home stretch only to be sucker punched for a second time with an equalising Kildorrery goal that had star player Peter O’Brien’s name stamped all over it. This time he wasn’t the executioner but it was he that initiated the move that ended with corner-forward Finbarr Stapleton belting home.

Two wonderful points followed from O’Brien and, whilst Dillon’s got one of them back, those couple of scores ensured that the winter in a great north Cork hurling home will be a lot shorter and that past heartbreaks are finally consigned to history.
It will be an entirely different story in Dillon’s Cross and, from having one hand on the Johnny Quirke Cup, they had it snatched away from them in dying embers of another absorbing encounter.

Their hearts were broken afterwards and the healing process could be lengthy but on tension-filled days like this it’s all about the winners and the journey that they have completed. Many might say that for the second time Dillon’s left it behind them after being in such an advantageous position at a critical stage but the team that comes from behind to snatch the glory deserve special praise.
It takes guts, it takes massive character to stay focused when it appears that it is not going to be your day and Kildorrery had those traits in abundance here.

Of course any team having a player of the calibre of Peter O’Brien has a substantial advantage and whatever the future holds, for this fellow his contribution to this Kildorrery adventure will remain for the ages. But there were others too, many of them who contributed so handsomely to this exhilerating triumph.

The defence was outstanding, denying Dillon’s on many occasions the opportunity to raise a green flag. Michael Walsh has come back from a stint across the water to play a huge part; Tom Monaghan, before he departed the arena with a suspected broken leg; Shane Fitzgerald, Michael Lillis and John Howard, they all played their part on this day of days. Eamon O’Connor nailed the crucial opening goal when Dillon’s were beginning to take a grip on the game, while Finbarr Stapleton was in the right place at the right time for the dramatic equaliser. 

Dillon’s had their heroes too. Danny Murphy and Mark White doing Trojan work in defence, Thomas Lawrence running himself into the ground at midfield alongside Cian McCarthy who fired over two huge points coming up to the hour mark, scores that we thought would prove so vital when the final whistle sounded. But it was not to be for Dillon’s and when they reflect on it all they will rue some great chances that just would not go between the posts.

In total they shot 13 wides as opposed toagainst seven for Kildorrery and the greater economy of the North Cork side proved crucial in the end. Scores were very difficult to come by all afternoon and at the break it was just 1-4 to 0-4 for Kildorrery, O’Connor drilling the ball past Thomas Triggs after receiving a pass from Stapleton. Dillon’s had a great chance of a goal too in those opening sequences but John Noonan’s just drifted wide after good work by Philip O’Brien.

The second-half began in scintillating style for Dillon’s, four unanswered points from John Horgan, White, Lawrence and Horgan again.
Kildorrery didn’t score at all for 14 minutes of the closing half, O’Brien levelling the game with a point in the 44th minute.
Horgan and O’Brien then exchanged points before Cian McCarthy’s brace of splendid points followed by another from John Noonan.
It looked to be going Dillon’s way at that juncture burt with seven minutes added on for Monaghan’s serious leg injury, it was still very much in the melting pot.

Then arrived Kildorrery’s second goal from Stapleton, O’Brien beginning the move that led to the score before he rifled over two sublime lead points. Before all that Horgan had missed a great chance to regain the lead for Dillon’s and he had another effort afterwards ending up in Kildorrery ‘keeper James McEnery’s hands.

He did reduce the gap to a point in the 66th minute and then the city team had one final chance to bring the game to extra-time but Darragh Brosnan’s effort went out wide and, finally, Kildorrery’s time had come. 

We’ll remember these two epics for many a long day between two sides who displayed courage and character almost beyond the call of duty. But when it really mattered it was Kildorrery who held their nerve and because of that they are now worthy champions.

Scorers for Kildorrery: P O’Brien 0-6 (0-2f), E O’Connor, F Stapleton 1-0 each, M Walsh free, D Kelly 0-1 each.

Brian Dillon’s: J Horgan : 0-7 (0-5f), C McCarthy 0-2, T Lawrence 0-2, J Noonan, M White 0-1 each.

KILDORRERY: J McEniry, N Kelly, S Fitzgerald, J Howard, T Monaghan, M Walsh, M Lillis, J McCarthy, C O’Baoill, E O’Connor, P O’Brien, S Kelly, D Kelly, R mcEniry, F Stapleton.
Subs : W Fuohy for S Kelly (38), L Kelly for Monaghan inj (55).

BRIAN DILLON’S: T Triggs, M Noonan, D Murphy, M Carey, D McCormack, M White, D Brosnan, T Lawrence, C McCarthy, J Horgan, B Barrett, C Brosnan, J Noonan, D Rogers, P O’Brien.
Subs : K McCormack for Barrett (h-t), K Coughlan for O’Brien (50).

Referee: K Healy (Ballymartle).