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The 40 year wait is over

Celebrations at Grange school following the County final success.

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Full Match Report Below

After waiting nearly 40 years Grange GAA are once again Cork County champions. Having contested finals in 2015 and again last year, Grange were once again knocking on the door this year and finally got over the threshold. This Grange team deserved to be County champions but as everyone knows, you win nothing for “deserving it”, you have to go out there onto that pitch, leave it all on the field and earn it. That is exactly what this team did, they went out and earned it.

This final was contested between Grange and Goleen GAA, 2 small footballing clubs from opposite ends of the county. Goleen are no strangers to County finals having won the Junior C title in 2016, they also contested the Junior B County semi-finals in 2017 and also in 2018 where Grange were victorious by 2 points. Goleen are a very good, tough footballing side with a lot of promising young players coming through and having played them 4 times in recent years, Grange were not underestimating the challenge ahead.

Grange had prepared well for this game but were rocked by the injury to influential wing back Darren Roche who suffered a serious muscular injury in the semi-final which ruled him out of a starting place in the final. Always ready to protect his baby brother, John Roche stepped up to the plate to ensure that Darren would have a county medal to show for his efforts all year. That was the only change to the starting team from the punishing semi-final against Kilbrin. All roads led to PaircUiRinn for this game, unfortunately the sun didn’t get the memo as it was a wet, miserable day.

Goleen were quicker to settle and were 2 points to the good while Grange struggled to make chances. Alan McNamara and Dave Keating were making great runs in the full forward line but the conditions were making it difficult to find them. When the ball did find them they looked dangerous. Noel Barry, Alan Deegan and Kurt Wheeler were having to play a lot of defence at this stage but were still making lung bursting runs forward when the opportunity arose. Grange’s first score of the game was a score of the highest quality. Alan McNamara, seemingly trapped towards the corner, got his head up and spotted the marauding run of wing back Darragh Scott who had sprinted 60m to give Alan an option. Alan McNamara gave a defence splitting pass right into the hands of Darragh Scott who broke a couple of tackles before dispatching the ball into the Goleen net with aplomb. Suddenly Grange were a point ahead and were growing into the match. Alan Deegan was next to change the scoreboard with a point before elder statesman Dave Keating decided to start his own assault on the scoreboard as he slotted a point of his own to push Grange 1-2 to 0-2 ahead as half time was closing in.

The Grange full back line was proving a formidable last line of defence as Mark Timlin, flanked by Brian Cashman and Johnny Magnier were breaking up Goleen’s attacks. The half back line of John Roche and Michael Hennessy along with the energetic Darragh Scott and John Carmody were the foundation of many Grange attacks but no doubt one of the star performers of that first half was goalkeeper Gavin Dawson. Goleen pummelled a barrage of high balls on top of Dawson but he was well up to the task as he won every one of them and his distribution was top class. Kickouts are one of the most important parts of any match now and the accuracy of Dawson coupled with the aerial abilities of Devon Roche and Ricky Fraher were proving very difficult for Goleen to counteract. Goleen did manage 2 more points before the short whistle to leave the minimum between the sides at the break. Grange 1-2 Goleen 0-4.

Straight from the second half throw in Goleen were to let Grange know that they were not going to have everything their own way as Goleen copied their first half blueprint by tacking on the first 2 points of the second half to regain the lead. Grange however, had the same blueprint as true to the pattern of the first half Darragh Scott was again instrumental to a Grange goal. Scott again charged up the left wing and saw an effort for a point come back off the upright and into the waiting arms of a Goleen defender who tried to pass out of defence only to be intercepted by Scott. Scott showed great composure as he found the unmarked David Keating and the silver fox found the bottom left corner, in off the post, to register Grange’s second goal of the game but more importantly, it gave Grange a lead that they were not to relinquish.

The workrate of the Grange players really showed in this second half as Goleen were limited to only one more score in this match – a point in injury time. Kurt Wheeler epitomised this spirit and effort when despite his legs cramping from his immense effort, and twice having treatment for it, he still stood over a long range free in the 57th minute and powerfully dispatched it over the bar for the insurance point to put Grange 2-4 to 0-6 ahead approaching the final whistle. It was all shoulders to the wheel at this stage as the fresh legs of Niall McCarthy, Kevin Murphy, Jordan Kelleher, Peter Stapleton and the ever willing Darren Roche all made major contributions from the bench as the game entered 6 minutes of injury time. Alan McNamara’s experience showed as he dropped back into defence for the closing stages and was in the right place at the right time as his goal line clearance from Goleen’s onslaught was a pivotal moment in the game. As the long whistle approached Goleen had one final score – a pointed free to leave the final score Grange 2-4 0-7 Goleen. The final whistle was greeted by joyous scenes as the heartbreak of previous years was soon forgotten and replaced with an equal measure of rapture and relief. Alan McNamara proudly walked up those steps to receive the cup from County Board chairperson Tracy Kennedy and 40 years of waiting finally came to an end.

Team: Gavin Dawson, Johnny Magnier, Mark Timlin, Brian Cashman, John Roche, Michael Hennessy, Darragh Scott (1-0), Devon Roche, Ricky Fraher, Kurt Wheeler (0-1), Noel Barry, Alan Deegan (0-1), Alan McNamara (0-1), David Keating (1-1), John Carmody. Subs used: Niall McCarthy, Kevin Murphy, Peter Stapleton, Darren Roche, Jordon Kelleher.

Following the victory the team had a homecoming at Grange school where a large crowd of former players and supporters gathered to welcome the team home with the cup. There are many people that deserve thanks for helping the team get to this point but to name them all here would probably take up another few pages so for now, let’s enjoy this victory, savour the celebrations and look forward to continued success.

A family affair


Grange Brother John, Darren and Devon Roche pictured with thier families after a recent victory over Shanballymore in the JB Football Championship.


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