The month of December holds a special place in Newmarket hearts. In 1970 it was the thirteenth day of the month, while back in 1998 it was the sixth. This year, the fifth has been added to the glorious days when The Black & Red have won county titles. In securing the Bon Secours Premier Intermediate title last Sunday, the Newmarket footballers bridged the gap to another celebrated occasion, the sixteenth of October 2011, and in doing so, created a legacy of their own.
Entering into the contest, Newmarket were considered underdogs against an undefeated Kanturk side, whose stock was high, following four wins in the competition and their recent Senior A hurling success. But, like ten years previous, Newmarket knew belief, determination and an abundance of skill would ensure they would still have a part to play in the destination of the Billy Long Cup.
Kanturk opened the scoring on the brisk but dry day, through an Ian Walsh free, with less than a minute on the clock. The match was level soon after, with a Conor O’Keeffe free. Both sides took their time settling into the game, with the next score not coming until the ten minute mark, with Ian Walsh again putting Kanturk ahead. This was quickly cancelled out by a fine point from Barry O’Connor and his side went ahead for the first time, with a long range score from midfielder Darren O’Keeffe. A Colin Walsh point ensured the sides went into the water break all square, 0-03 a piece.
Conor O’Keeffe edged Newmarket ahead after the resumption, but the advantage was short lived, as Kanturk replied with points of their own from Ian and Ryan Walsh. The close contest was level again on 24 minutes, when Barry O’Connor hit a fantastic score. The remainder of the half was dominated by Newmarket as the rattled off three well worked points. Conor O’Keeffe restored the lead with five minutes left to play. This was extended by Paudie Allen two minutes later, with O’Keeffe extending the gap to three, with time almost up. Kanturk pulled a point back just before the break, through an Ian Walsh free, but Newmarket entered the dressing rooms much the happier side, having played with control in the first period.
The third quarter of the contest belonged to Kanturk, as they quickly nullified Newmarket’s lead, with a brace from former Cork hurler Lorcan McLoughlin. Further frees from Ian Walsh, gave his side a 0-08 to 0-10 lead entering the final water break, with Newmarket ruing some scoring opportunities that dropped just short. They registered their first point of the half on 50th minutes, with a Conor O’Keeffe free. Moments later, they had their U20 All-Ireland winner, Josh O’Keeffe, to thank, when he stopped a certain goal from Daniel O’Connell. Kanturk restored their two point advantage through a Kyrle Holland score and looked a step closer to a historic county double, as the clock moved towards full time.
What happened over the next three minutes, is difficult to describe, yet will never be forgotten. Newmarket regained position in their own half and worked the ball up the field, looking for an opening. The opportunity eventually presented itself, with Conor O’Keeffe winning and converting a free, putting the minimum between the sides. With two minutes of injury time remaining, Kanturk won the resulting kickout and came searching for the insurance point, but attack ended in an Aidan Walsh effort that drifted wide of the target. A short Newmarket kickout transitioned to their 45 meter line, where Kanturk conceded a free. Bart Daly released Michael Cottrell up the wing, he interchanged with full-back Alan Ryan and full-forward Ryan O’Keeffe before returning the ball again to Daly. The Junior All-Ireland winner then spotted the open Conor O’Keeffe, who scored an equalising point with his left leg. A finish that would grace any game in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
With the stadium still ringing from the roar of the crowd, the match looked destined for a replay, with just 30 seconds of the added time remaining. Hoping to retain position, Kanturk took a short kickout, which was skilfully contested by Paudie Allen, with the breaking ball collected by David Cottrell. The younger of the Cottrell brothers found Kevin O’Sullivan, who moved the ball to Michael Cottrell. Michael then released Bart Daly, who used all his experience to place the most perfect of passes into the full-forward line, releasing Ryan O’Keeffe in on goal. Ryan’s first attempt was valiantly blocked, but with his team mates and the Newmarket crowd willing him on, Ryan collected the ball again, evaded his marker and coolly slotted the ball over the bar.
The following kickout was won by Kanturk and they worked the ball up the field, but resolute defending from Newmarket restricted Kanturk’s opportunities to a shot from distance, which tailed wide. Macroom’s John Ryan, referee for the occasion, blew the whistle for one last time, following Josh O’Keeffe’s long kickout and history was made.
TJ Brosnan accepted the Billy Long Cup on behalf of his team, his mentors and his parish, as the green grass of Páirc Uí Chaoimh turned Black and Red. In doing so, TJ paid special tribute to the late Séan Browne, who, through Newmarket Motors, supported Newmarket in the tough times and in the greatest of times. A clubman sadly missed, but never forgotten.
Commiserations must be offered to Kanturk, who turned around a difficult situation at half time, to come so close to winning a famous double. Both sides played the match in a clean but committed fashion, which is also a credit to referee John Ryan. Kudos must also be given to the live coverage provided by C103 and The Irish Examiner, which allowed so many all over Ireland and the World to witness such an enthralling contest.
Congratulations to the players and their management of Niall McIntyre (Coach), Donal O’Sullivan, Paul Murphy, Sinéad O’Reagan (Physio), Dr. Bertie Daly (Doctor), Luke McCarthy (Stats), William Brosnan (Backroom) and Eileen O’Connell (Kit) on this momentous achievement, that has brought a lift to the whole community and a day that will live long in the memories.
Newmarket’s roller-coaster season has another tail to tell before 2021 is dispatched. They take on Corofin of Clare, in the Munster Intermediate Championship, in Mallow on the 19th of December. We like December in Newmarket. Áth Trasna Abú.
The Newmarket team and scorers…
Conor O’Keeffe (0-07, 3f), Barry O’Connor (0-02), Paudie Allen (0-01), Darren O’Keeffe (0-01), Ryan O’Keeffe (0-01).
|Mikey Browne||Alan Ryan||Paudie Allen|
|T. J. Brosnan||Gavin Forde||Bart Daly|
|Michael Cottrell||Darren O'Keeffe|
|John Ryan||Kevin O'Sullivan||Barry O'Connor|
|Conor O'Keeffe||Ryan O'Keeffe||Cathal Browne|
|Subs: Daniel Norton for TJ Brosnan (Temporary blood-sub 1st half), David Cottrell for Darren O'Keeffe (50), Daniel Norton for John Ryan (58)|
Newmarket Panel: Ben Newman, Tim Murphy, Colin O’Sullivan, TJ Bodie, Jamie Hayes, Eddie Allen, Shane McAuliffe, Seán Murphy, Paudie O’Sullivan, Pete Goggin, Paddy Browne, Aidan Browne, Tony O’Keeffe
Kanturk Team: Jordan Fullerton, John McLoughlin (c), Darren Browne, Liam Cashman, Lorcan O’Neill, John Browne, Brian O’Sullivan, Paul Walsh, Aidan Walsh, Liam O’Keeffe, Lorcan McLoughlin (0-02), Ryan Walsh (0-01), Ian Walsh (0-06, 3f), Colin Walsh (0-01), Mark Healy
Kanturk Subs: Daniel O’Connell for Liam O’Keeffe, Cian Clernon for Ryan Walsh, Kyrle Holland (0-01) for Mark Healy, Alan Walsh for Colin Walsh