The Heath produced a dominant display of attacking football last Friday night to clinch a first-ever Kelly Cup title, comfortably seeing off the threat of St Joseph’s by 14 points in Crettyard.
The margin of victory was just reward for a display which had St Joseph’s in trouble from the opening minutes. The Heath were sharper and more clinical than their opponents, as they defended soundly and created scoring opportunites almost every time they crossed the halfway line, with corner-forward Cathal Whelan really catching the eye with a personal haul of 2-6.
The victory here will set The Heath up nicely for their Division 1 league campaign, and they can take heart from last year’s winners Graiguecullen, who carried their promising early-season form with them throughout the year.
As it stands, that is the challenge now facing The Heath, as they will have to build on this success and challenge for more prestigious honours later in the year. HAving only avoided a double relegation from both Divisions 1 and 2 last year on a technicality, that has to be the immediate aim, to put together a more consistent league campaign ahead of the championship.
For St Joseph’s, the challenge is that bit greater, as they try to bring through a number of last year’s successful U-21 championship winning side into the senior team. Having been hit more than most with emigration and injury in recent years, a big task remains ahead of them to get back to the competitive level they were at in recent years.
Unfortunately for them here, they were only competitive in fleeting spells, as they struggled to contain a rampant Heath attack in the first half. Cathal Whelan opened the scoring in the first minute after exchanging passes with Kieran Hyland, before Hyland then forced a save from Tommy Nolan with a close-range shot.
The alarm bella were already ringing for St Joseph’s at this stage, and they fell further behind thanks to points from Daithi Carroll and Cathal Whelan (2). When Carroll then intercepted a handpass in the St Joseph’s defence to race clear and slot over a fifth point in ten minutes, it already looked like the contest was close to over.
St Joseph’s kicked into life at that stage, with James Doyle pointing a free before he then took advantage of some hesitant defending in The Heath full-back line to fist home from close range, after goalkeeper James Farrell failed to hold the ball.
That goal put just one point between the teams, but it last barely a minute as The Heath hit back ruthlessly in their next attack. Chris Bergin picked up the ball 40 yards out, and cut through a gap in the St Joseph’s defence to race clear on goal and coolly slot the ball into the bottom corner.
James Doyle again hit back for St Joseph’s with a free, but the rest of the half belonged to The Heath as they put the game beyond doubt. Cathal Whelan pointed either side of a Chris Bergin free, before he then got on the end of a great move involving Daithi Carroll and Kieran Hyland to shoot past Tommy Nolan. Another point from Tony Connolly brought the scoring for the half to an end, and The Heath already looked assured of victory, leading 2-9 to 1-2 and on top in almost every position across the field.
After the end-to-end fare of the first half, the second half was a bit slower to get going, with the first score not coming until the seventh minute. Inevitably Cathal Whelan was involved, as he set up his brother Padraig for a nice score.
Daithi Carroll then added a ‘45 before Colm Campion opened St Joseph’s account for the second half with his first score, but the game was already petering out towards its inevitable conclusion at this stage.
With seven minutes remaining, The Heath confirmed, if any confirmation were needed, that the game was over with their third goal. A long ball towards full-forward Seamus Mulhare broke to Cathal Whelan, and his shot from 14 yards out found the back of the net, despite substitute ‘keeper Dermot Kelly getting his fingertips to it.
Doyle rounded off St Joseph’s scoring for the night with another free, his third of the game. The Heath were almost in for a fourth goal in injury time, but despite getting in behind the Joseph’s cover, they had to settle for a point to round off what was a convincing victory.
SCORERS - The Heath: Cathal Whelan 2-6 (0-2 frees), Chris Bergin 1-1 (0-1 free), Daithi Carroll 0-3 (one 45), Padraig Whelan, Tony Connolly 0-1 each; St Joseph’s: James Doyle 1-3 (0-3 frees), Colm Campion 0-1
THE HEATH: James Farrell; Mark Dowling, Colin Nestor, Eoin Delaney; Eoin Keane, Aidan Bergin, Tony Connolly; Enda Norton, Jimmy Nerney; Daithi Carroll, Chris Bergin, Donal Bigley; Cathal Whelan, Seamus Mulhare, Kieran Hyland. Subs: Padraig Whelan for Bigley; John Booth for Chris Bergin, Conor Bergin for Keane; Stephen Rainsford for Mulhare; Barry Whelan for Hyland
ST JOSEPH’S: Tommy Nolan; Ian Dunne, Aaron Moore, Martin Condron; Adam Campion, Kevin Campion, Dan Dunne; Jason Campion, Ian Donnelly; Mattie Campion, Noel Garvan, Johnny Fleming; Tom Dunne, David Brennan, James Doyle. Subs: Colm Campion for Fleming; Dermot Kelly for Nolan; Joey Devoy for T Dunne; Mark George for Condron; Donie Ramsbottom for Donnelly
Referee: Joe Brennan (Crettyard)