Kilmaley’s journey from the depths of relegation to the cusp of Munster intermediate glory took all of 12 months. Kanturk, on the other hand, have All Ireland glory on their minds considering the number of stars on their side with inter-county experience.
AIB Munster Intermediate Hurling Final: Kanturk 1-23 Kilmaley 0-25
At the end of an enthralling encounter, it can only be assumed that both sides will provide dangerous opposition in their respective club senior championships in the seasons to come.
Kanturk played with a deep-lying defence drawing a blanket in front of their full-back line and limiting Kilmaley’s goal chances as Mark Healy got the Cork champions off the mark in the first minute.
Sean O’Loughlin solos the ball clear of Lorcan McLoughlin.
Cian Moloney hit back after three minutes as a number of tough exchanges ensued. Ryan Walsh and Alan O’Keeffe added minors to open up a 0-3 to 0-1 lead after six minutes fare in the Gaelic Grounds.
Sean O’Loughlin and Eamonn Bracken, fresh from his footballing exploits with Kilmurry Ibrickane, levelled matters after 13 minutes while Ken Kennedy’s excellent effort following a crossfield ball from Michael O’Malley gave the lead to the Clare champions.
Kilmaley struggled in the next ten minutes as Kanturk double their scores to eight points with Ian Walsh (2), Alan Sheehy and Ryan Walsh on target.
The Cork side spurned a potential goal when Alan O’Keeffe raced in from the corner only to see his lobbed ball batted wide by the waiting Liam O’Keeffe.
Kilmaley got a second wind outscoring Kanturk by 3-2 in the final minutes of the half as Daire Keane, Cian Moloney and Michael O’Malley were on target. At the interval, Kanturk led 0-10 to 0-7 despite their dominance for most of the half.
At the start of the new Kanturk had half points from Ian and Aidan Walsh against Sean O’Loughlin’s effort as the Cork men edged 0-12 to 0-8 clear.
Michael O’Neill pointed from close range before winning a free that was sent over by Cian Moloney to leave just two points in the game with 25 minutes to play. Darren Browne added a stunning point.
It was still all to play for at this juncture as Colin McGuane’s team went in pursuit of an elusive goal. However, it was Kanturk who found the net first when Liam O’Keeffe took a direct crossfield ball and made no mistake to open an unassailable lead.
Kilmaley refused to capitulate and three scores in as many minutes from Bracken, Cahill and Moloney left only the goal between them with ten minutes remaining.
Alan Markham and John McLoughlin contest a dropping ball.
Entering the final five minutes the sides were divided by the minimum following a great Michael O’Malley effort. Lorcan O’Loughlin, Daire Keane and two points from O’Malley put Kilmaley in front for the first time since the 5th minute. Deep into injury time cornerback Paul Walsh scored the equaliser to set up extra time.
Kanturk scored more often in the first half of extra time stretching their lead to 1-21 to 0-22. After the break, the onus was on Kilmaley to get the golden goal. Daire Keane finished off a three-man move with a score from a narrow-angle before Mikey O’Neill had an effort adjudged wide.
With the deficit down to the minimum, Liam O’Keeffe restored a two-point lead for the Cork men and added the final score for his side five minutes before the end despite a late salvo from Cian Moloney who had the last chance from a distance to level the game from a free but the ball drifted narrowly wide.
Kanturk celebrated with glee having sneaked past a brave Kilmaley side that suffered from a goal drought to end a memorable 2017 campaign. After the game, the Munster intermediate cup was presented to the Kanturk captain Lorcan O’Neill.
KANTURK: Anthony Nash, Paul Walsh (0-1) John McLoughlin, John Browne, Lorcan O’Neill, Darren Browne (0-1), Alan Sheehy (0-1), James Fitzpatrick (0-1), Ryan Walsh (0-2), Aidan Walsh (0-1), Donnacha Hennelly, Mark Healy(0-1), Ian Walsh (0-3), Alan O’Keeffe (0-1), Liam O’Keeffe (1-7). Subs: Lorcan McLoughlin (0-4) for Fitzpatrick, Fitzpatrick for Hennelly, Martin O’Riordan for Healy, Mark Healy for Ian Walsh, D Kennelly for Walsh
KILMALEY: Bryan O’Loughlin, Aidan McGuane, Colin McGuane, Eoin Enright, Conor Neylon, Conor Cleary, Sean Kennedy, Brian Cahill (0-1), Michael O’Malley (0-5), Kenneth Kennedy (0-2), Eamonn Bracken (0-2), Sean O’Loughlin (0-1), Cian Moloney (0-7), Daire Keane (0-5), Michael O’Neill (0-2). Sub: Padraic McNamara for S O’Loughlin, A Markham for Moloney, C Moloney for Markham, Conor McMahon for Cahill, Jon Clohessy for Bracken, Sean O’Loughlin for Kennedy, Eamonn Bracken for C Neylon,
Referee: Thomas Walsh (Waterford).