IT’S generally accepted that Conor Hannon was one of the best hurlers ever to play for Shanballymore.
He won a county senior medal with Avondhu in 1996, picking up the man-of-the-match award following an outstanding display at full back in the final against Imokilly, but he enjoyed little success over the course of a lengthy career at club level.
So, it obviously gave him immense satisfaction to serve as a selector with the Shanballymore team that lifted the county junior ‘B’ hurling title at Pairc Ui Rinn last Friday evening.
It bridged a gap of 64 years, with the club’s previous taste of county championship glory occurring at intermediate level in 1951, and Hannon is hoping it will be a the stepping stone to greater things in the years ahead.
“We have been competing at junior ‘B’ level for far too long, and we’re delighted to get out of it now. These guys are well capable of playing junior ‘A’, they have come on a lot over the past 12 months, so we are really looking forward to pitting ourselves against some of the top junior teams in North-Cork next year,” he said.
“We were very confident coming up, to be honest, we felt we had the team to win, but we said to the lads that a county final can take on a life of its own, and you have to go out and make things happen for you, because it can pass you by fairly quickly otherwise. I thought it took the players a while to realise that, and we were very disappointed with how easily Bantry got an early goal.
“We felt our discipline was poor at times in the first half as well, we also hit some bad wides, but we had a good chat with the lads at half time, and I think we ironed out a few bits and pieces.” Hannon agreed it was very important that Shanballymore, leading by just a point at the interval having played with the wind, started well in the second half.
“Dylan O’Callaghan’s goal certainly gave us a huge boost after half time, and we built on it to go six points up, but, fair play to Bantry, they came back strongly, and it was heart-stopping stuff there near the end.
“I have no hesitation in saying I found it a lot harder standing on the line than playing, but, thankfully, we held on, and I thought Eoin McHugh was outstanding at full back in the closing stages.”Hannon stressed that every player contributed to Shanballymore’s performance, revealing he was satisfied they were probably the better team after they had responded to Bantry’s early goal with five points on the trot.
“Having said that, Bantry really put it up to us, and we’re just delighted we got the win, and that we’ll be back playing junior ‘A’ hurling next year.”