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Shannonsiders Had Little Difficulty In Winning Under 21 Title St. Rynagh’s – three up, two to go

Under 21 F Final:   St. Rynagh’s, 3-12,   Ballycumber, 1.3.
M.H Semi-Final:     St. Rynagh’s, 9-3,     Tullamore, 2-2.

Even as things stand 1965 is an historic year for St. Rynagh’s G.A.A. Club with three championships already in the bag and two finals yet to play.  What more could any club ask for..... and to number their first senior hurling title among the season’s successes must surely be a crowning glory.

Now the second premier football event in the county under 21 Title has also been annexed by St. Rynagh’s whose 3-13 to 1-3 win over Ballycumber didn’t flatter them.

Played on a soggy St. Brendan’s Park, Birr, on Sunday afternoon before a small crowd the game was interesting if not very exciting and while St. Rynagh’s must certainly get plaudits of the hour, Ballycumber challengers deserve a measure of praise for reaching the final with a gallant group of players chosen from a portion of their parish.  Confined to their own parish by decision of last year’s County Convention the up-and-coming Ballycumber Club over came to some extent the frightful limitations of selection and even though they were missing several good players like Michael Ryan and Johnny Egan (both now playing with clubs outside the county) the side put out by Sean Guinan and his committee were well worthy of the club.

However, from where I sat it was obvious that Ballycumber entered the game under the cloud of psychological defeat that try as they would, St. Rynagh’s were going to win and it was this frame of mind that contributed most to their defeat in the end.  Just look at the sequence of play and note that St. Rynagh’s led 0-6 to 1.0 at half time, showing that there was virtually very little between them in the first half.

The winners opened with a first minute point from PJ. McIntyre followed by a Podge Mulhare point from 14 yards after 19 minutes and a PJ. McIntyre point 8 minutes from half time.  Pat Monaghan’s penalty goal was well scored  6 minutes from half time, after which Podge Mulhare scored three point, 2 from frees to leave the interval score 0-6 to 1.0 in St. Rynagh’s favour.  Throughout this half the tide of the game ebbed and flowed in each goal area, but while St. Rynagh’s had the greater edge in attack there was some brilliant defensive work by the Ballycumber backs.

In the second half things went fully in favour of a St. Rynagh’s side that turned a first half into a second half rampage and left Ballycumber scoreless for  18 minutes.  In those 18 minutes the key of St. Rynagh’s scorer, Podge Mulhare, chalked up 2-3 and PJ Whelehan 1-0 with Ballycumber punctuating the St. Rynagh’s scores with a point from Gerry Doolin.  On the 21st minute Pat Monahan pointed a 14 yards free, for which Mulhare returned a flying point, KK Kenny added another and PJ Whelehan pointed two minutes from time.  Ballycumber came back for a point by Oliver McManus but PJ Whelehan added the coup de grace with the 30th minute point to give St. Rynagh’s a final tally of 3-13 to 1-3.

The Players:   One can only hope the county selectors were on hand to see some of the players from both sides put in a tremendous personal performance.  The fantastic energy of Podge Mulhare was one of the highlights of the game and made up much of the heavy going dictated by the heavy sod and wintery cold, none of which were conductive to all-round top grade football.  He scored a total of 2-8 and was an amazing worker who after some over holding in the first half passed the ball out and in his distribution helped fellow forwards to press home there placing advantages.  PJ Whelehan -  the smallest footballer on the field – was the most dangerous and couldn’t be marked.  His speed, accuracy and determination were outstanding factors and he scored a total 1-2.  A great help mate was Mickey Kenny who also has a very good hour and notched a point.  KK Kenny’s physique was a great advantage in full forward but he had to work very hard to mark full-forward Mick Bannon.  PJ. McIntyre and Michael Sullivan both forwards, were in the same game for the full hour and PJ’s improved tactics augur well for his future county career.  He scored two (allowed) points but his third – after a forward attacked Ballycumber goalie Tom Cornally in the first half – was disallowed.

Disallowed Point

This decision of Referee John Dowling (Tullamore) has caused considerable comment not so much on how the decision might have affected this game but on the principle that the point was scored a fraction of a second before the goalie was bundled into the back of the net and it is argued that the score should have been allowed.  However, the rule for referees is clear and the decision facing the referee in this case was obvious.  It if an infringement of the rules to charge the goalie and undoubtedly, in his gallant bid to save the point Cornally was put spread-eagled into the back of the net by a St. Rynagh’s forward just as the ball had crossed the bar.

Surely St. Rynagh’s had to be penalised in some way for this infringement of the rules?  If the referee hadn’t disallowed the score what should he have done?  Put off the responsible St. Rynagh’s forward?  Not at all, that would be far too drastic.  How else could the team be penalised except by disallowing the point?  This certainly is a point for fireside argument.  At half time I discussed the matter with referee John Dowling, who told me he had made his decision strictly in accordance with the rule-book and to clinch his decision he said this particular type of infringement was discussed at the recent G.A.A. Headquarters meeting to discuss clarification of rules and Mr. Dowling was among the referees at this meeting.

Back to the players....... and first of all an accolade for Damien McIntyre who played his best game ever in centreback on a succession of Ballycumber men.   He was outstanding from the throw-in and we should all expect to see more of him in the future.  And what an amazing game by Basil Johnson in centerfield, partnering a towering George Anderson.  Basil, adapting himself to the big ball, showed great promise and Anderson’s steady game helped to have Rynagh’s the midfield pull even against the wily Pat Monaghan and equally fine Joe Flynn.  With Seamus Grogan, Seamus Dennigan, J. Coughlan, Pat Moylan and N. Gallagher covering off Damien Martin, all played very well.

Hero of the Ballycumber team was Tom Cornally (in goal), with an outstanding Jim Cavanagh in cornerback and some great work by Billy Grennan in centreback; the two centerfield men and some good work in attack by Gerry Doolan, tom Fleming and Christy Daly.

The Teams: St. Rynagh’s – D. Martin, S. Dennigan, N. Gallagher, S. Grogan, D. McIntyre, P. Moylan, G. Anderson, B. Johnson, P. Mulhare, PJ. McIntyre, M. Sullivan, PJ. Whelehan, KK. Kenny, M. Kenny.
Ballycumber – T. Cornally, J. Cavanagh, M. Bannon, R. Condron, P. Daly, B. Guinan, P. Kenny, J. Flynn, P. Monohan, P. Guinan, G. Doolan, T. Fleming, O. McManus, C. Daly, D. Scully

Thanks to Johnny Coughlan for sourcing the article and Jackie Coughlan for typing it up for us.