History Flashback: 1999 County Final

Rampant Rockies leave sad students awe struck

by Brendan Larkin
The Cork Examiner

Páirc Uí Chaoimh. October 31st 1999
Blackrock 3-17 UCC 0-8 

FAMED Blackrock will never win a county title as comprehensively but it did not lessen the sweetness of their 30th success at Pairc Uí Chaoimh yesterday. Such occasions can preclude quality hurling, but the Rockies had over 10,000 spectators in awe with a near perfect display of hurling which left the students of UCC completely crestfallen. 
It’s been a strange road to glory for the Rockies. If right was right they should have gone out of this year’s championship at the first hurdle, if not at the semi final stage. But the beauty of sport is the uncertainty of it and playing some of the best hurling ever seen at the venue, they literally destroyed UCC to win their first title in 14 years and move five ahead of their great city rivals, the ’Barrs and the Glen in the roll of honour. It would be difficult to find a fault with this Blackrock performance. Purring like a well oil machine, they went about their business from the throw in when playing against a very strong wind, and the Seán O´g Murphy Cup was well on its way to the village when they went in at the break leading 1 8 to 0 7. A look at Blackrock’s score will give some idea of the awesome power of their forward division. Out of a total of three goals and 17 points, only one point came from a free, while at the other end, their defence conceded just six points from play and only one in the second half, and that came from a strangely subdued Joe Deane 30 seconds after the restart. The new champions had a team of all stars. From goalkeeper Trevor Barry up to debutante corner forward Seán Coakley Blackrock hadn’t a weakness. Coakley won’t ever forget this, his first ever county senior final. The 22 year old university student - he opted to play with his club despite overtures from UCC - contributed a massive five points from play and must have been well in the running for the Man of the Match award. That honour went to centre back Jim Cashman and there can be few arguments. In the twilight of a great career, the 34 year old belied his years with a magnificent display and showed just how easy this game of hurling is if you do the simple things well.Cashman was like a magnet. Everywhere he went the ball seemed to come to him, and if Brian Corcoran’s display in this year’s All Ireland final was class, Cashman’s performance yesterday was not far behind. When Blackrock look back on this latest victory, they will readily recall the display of their defence in particular. All seven never put a foot wrong and no matter what UCC tried - and they made numerous positional changes and introduced three substitutes to try and get their side moving - the Rockies were always in command, with Wayne Sherlock, Noel Keane, Jim Cashman and Fergal Ryan in particular magnificent. Alan Cummins and Michael Harrington controlled midfield while all six forwards along with the midfielders all got their names on the scoresheet which was a measure of Blackrock’s almost total dominance before an attendance of 10,094.College will be bitterly disappointed, not so much at losing, but by their complete failure to play up to standard. They certainly had the material to do well, but on the day had no answer to a Blackrock side that played to its full potential and who will be more than a match for Ballygunner in the Munster club semi final in a fortnight’s time. Given the strength of the wind, UCC needed at least a six point lead at half time to have had any chance, but they never looked like achieving that as the Blackrock defence held the highly rated students forwards in a vice like grip.In contrast the Blackrock forwards, and Brian O’Keeffe in particular, threatened to run riot. O’Keeffe was in scintillating form particularly in the opening half and College tried three different defenders on him, all to no avail. O’Keeffe brought the best out of UCC ’keeper Brendan Kelly in the 17th minute and at a time when Blackrock were leading 0 5 to 0 3, but the goal they had been threatening finally came in the 22nd minute when O’Keeffe passed inside to Alan Browne who made no mistake and that helped his side to a 1 8 to 0 7 lead at half time and only a miracle could save the students. UCC completely re arranged their team for the second half but all to no avail as the rampant Rockies continued to hurl with supreme confidence all over the field and despite failing to score from a penalty which Alan Cummins took and Brendan Kelly saved, the incessant pressure Blackrock were applying saw them stretch their lead to 1 13 to 0 8 by the end of the third quarter. With the students unable to penetrate up front, their overworked defence finally caved in and from a huge clearance by the magnificent Cashman, Brian O’Keeffe raced on to the breaking ball, took it around Brendan Kelly before shooting to the empty net, and Alan Browne had another goal a minute later despite the best efforts of Kelly, to put the seal on a memorable display by Blackrock. 

Blackrock: A. Browne 2 2  (1 free); S. Coakley 0 5; B. O’Keeffe 1 1; B. Hennebry 0 3; A. Coughlan, L. Meaney 0 2 each; A. Cummins, M. Harrington 0 1 each. 
UCC: J. Enright, J. Kingston 0 2 each; D. Bennett 0 2 0 1 65); J. Deane 0 2 (1 free). 

BLACKROCK: T. Barry; W. Sherlock, N. Keane, J. Browne; A. Ryan, J. Cashman, F. Ryan; A. Cummins, M. Harrington; B. Hennebry, L. Meaney, A. Coughlan; B. O’Keeffe, A. Browne, S. Coakley. Subs: D. Dempsey for Coakley; D. O’Sullivan for O’Keeffe; N. O’Leary for A. Browne. 

UCC: B. Kelly; D. Twomey, N. Murphy, L. Mannix; P. Mahon, B. Harte, D. Murphy; E. Enright, R. Flannery; D. Bennett, J. Kingston, J. O’Brien; E. Bennett, J. Deane, J. Enright. Subs: J. Murray for Harte; S. Fitzpatrick for O’Brien; J. Murphy for E. Bennett. Referee: J. Motherway Aghada).