Two Northern teams contested the final of the Joe Walsh Cup (hurling) in Thomastown on Sunday. After an interesting but less than inspirational 60 minutes of action, Barrow Rangers emerged winners for the first time, and in absolute truth, they deserved their victory.
A feature of the game was the magnificent contribution of one of the elder statesmen of the ’Rangers club, Diarmuid Maher, who scored all but five points of his side’s total. Maher was magnificent from play, and placed balls.
His energy, vision and skill were light years ahead of any other player on view. He was picked at full-forward, but his enthusiasm took him well out the park, where his best work was crafted. He had able adjutants in Aaron Nolan, Ed Prendergast, Stephen Dormer and Denis Kealy.
Playing with the breeze in the first half, the ’Rangers looked disjointed and dispirited. Dicksboro looked the more likely winners for a long way, certainly during the first half when they were smarter on the ball, looked a fitter outfit. They were in front comfortably at half-time, leading by 1-6 to 0-6.
With the breeze in the second moiety, one felt that the city side would be a difficult proposition for the Paulstown men. Our observations proved utterly unfounded. The ’Rangers came storming out of traps from the gun, caught their opponents by the 38th minute, compliments of a Derek McEvoy point.
They led a minute later with an Aaron Nolan point, and never looked back from there to the finish.
The ’Boro suffered the loss of two of their more experienced players, when Bill Cuddihy was carried of with a serious looking injury in the 20th minute and his replacement, David Carroll was also sidelined just before the break.
The winners were rather wasteful during the first half, and it seemed that such waste would led to their undoing. Maher kept them together, however. Ger O’Donoghue kept the ’Boro engine purring in the first half with some very accurate free-taking, but they needed more than accurate free-taking.
They spurned at least three reasonable goal chances. They would pay dearly for such wastefulness.
They were to get just six points in the second half. The Rangers grabbed 1-12. Therein lies the story of the game.
It was great to have the brother of the late, legendary Joe Walsh, secretary of the South Board for over 30 years, in Thomastown to present the cup. Val Walsh, who was enjoying a holiday at home from his base in Grimbsy, took the honours and congratulated both sides on their wholehearted performances.
Scorers: Barrow Rangers - Diarmuid Maher (1-12, six frees); Derek McEvoy (0-2); Edmund Prendergast, Stephen Dormer, Jason Holden, Aaron Nolan, (0-1 each). Dicksboro - Ger O’Donoghue (0-8, five frees); Craig Cahill (1-0); Enda O’Donoghue (0-1, free); Peter Fitzpatrick, Peter Turley (0-1 each); Enda O’Donoghue (0-1, free).
Barrow Rangers - J.J. Staunton, David Straunton, Kevin Brennan, John O’Neill, Tom Brennan, Patrick Purcell, John Kearney, Aaron Nolan, Edmund Prendergast, David Walsh, Derek McEvoy, Jason Holden, Steven Dormer, Diarmuid Maher, Denis Kealy. Sub - Kieran Breen.
Dicksboro - Sammy Morrissey, Eoin McCormack, John Kelly, Steve Dawson, Enda O’Donoghue, J.J. Hickey, Eoin Burke, Ruairi Morrissey, Bill Cuddihy, Ger O’Donoghue, Peter Turley, Peter Fitzpatrick, Collins Connolly, Drew Phelan, Craig Cahill. Subs - David Carroll, Padraig White, James Gittins.
Referee - J. Walsh (Rower-Inistioge).