For the 39th time, Burt are champions – and of all their times to collect the Munster Cup, few will have tasted as sweet as this.
Burt 3-14 Setanta 1-14
by Chris McNulty at O’Donnell Park
Setanta played the entire second half with 13 men and the champions were dethroned when Ronan McDermott fired in Burt’s third goal of a hot-tempered final.
They were pushed to the last swing of the hurl by Setanta. They knew they’d earned this one.
Three times, Setanta – spurred by 12 points from the excellent Declan Coulter – were level in the final quarter. They hurled, fought and blocked as if their very existence was on the line.
Remarkably, the 13 men of Setanta – who had Davin Flynn and Bernard Lafferty sent off in the first period – fought back to level in the 48th minute when Coulter arrowed over a free from 80 metres.
Burt responded with Niall Campbell slotting over and it took a stirring effort from Joe Boyle to once more restore Burt’s advantage after Coulter, again levelled the scores.
But when McDermott got clear to slot home the third goal, it was game, set and match Burt.
The second half was just five minutes old when Setanta captain Kevin Campbell fired in off the goal-frame and a long-range free from Coulter had the Crossroads men back to within two.
When Setanta levelled for the third time, through Coulter in the 56th minute, it was anyone’s game. But Burt grabbed the moment thanks to McDermott’s goal before Niall Campbell (2) and Caolan McDermott added points to seal the issue.
The 21st final meeting of these teams had plenty of talking points as Burt overcame Setanta for the 12th time in a decider, with Pádraig Doherty and Pierce Harrigan goaling in the first period.
There had been a stroke of fortune about the opening Burt goal in the 19th minute.
Doherty had a go from wide on the left and his shot dropped into the square, but squirmed out of the grasp of Setanta ‘keeper Gary McGettigan.
Just six minutes later, Burt rattled the net a second time, Harrigan drilling beyond McGettigan and it was an eight-point game.
By then, Setanta were down to 14 after the dismissal of Flynn in the 23rd minute.
A yellow card for a foul on Enda McDermott, just in front of the Setanta bench, was Flynn’s second booking in three minutes.
Flynn had been fortunate to escape the ultimate sanction when, just after the opening goal by Doherty, he was involved in an incident that incensed Burt. Doherty and Ronan McDermott were grounded and, after a lengthy consultation with his officials, referee James Connors showed only yellow to the Tipperary native.
Flynn, though, was on a tightrope by now and it was perhaps a case of atoning for an error as Connors soon dismissed Flynn, who needlessly fouled McDermott on the stand side.
Setanta’s woe worsened when, in added time at the end of the opening half, Lafferty was given his marching orders, for an off-the-ball incident involving Dara Grant.
Earlier in the day, Christopher McDermott, the Burt centre-back, was shown a yellow card for an off-the-ball clash that resulted in Coulter being grounded on the Burt ’45.
Connors consulted with his linesman, Pat Walsh, and his umpires, and considered that yellow was sufficient.
Last year had been only the third time since 1985 that Burt hadn’t contested the county final – and they were back here with a real vengeance.
Burt overcame Sean MacCumhaills in the semi-final, storming back from six points down – led by Campbell’s 1-5 – to win by nine.
Here, Campbell stood over a 65-metre free, close to the left touchline, in the eighth minute and sailed Burt into a 0-3 to 0-2 lead – and it was one they held onto for the remainder.
Campbell was further out still when he saw Martin Bonner’s stick bat down his next effort, but the game soon crept ever more away from Setanta.
A Coulter double momentarily had Setanta ahead after Boyle slammed over the game’s opening score, just nine seconds in and when Ciaran Finn landed a monster point for Burt, it had the Inishowen side 2-6 to 0-6 in front at the short whistle.
Kevin Campbell’s goal helped Setanta respond, but there was no denying Burt.
“We really had to win,” as their captain, Stephen Gillespie, said afterwards.
Burt:Paul Burns; Martin McGrath, Pádraig Doherty (1-0), Dara Grant; Pierce Harrigan (1-0), Christopher McDermott, Stephen Gillespie; Ciaran Finn (0-2), Joe Boyle (0-2); Caolan McDermott (0-1), Ronan McDermott (1-0), Mark Dowds (0-10; Niall Campbell (0-7, 6f), Conor Carlin, Enda McDermott. Subs:Ciaran Dowds for Harrigan (38), Mickey McCann for Carlin (41), Kieran Brady for Dowds (56), Eanna McLaughlin for E.McDermott (60).
Setanta: Gary McGettigan; Brendan Tourish, Alan McConnell, Justin McBride; Shaun Anderson, Martin Bonner, Mark Callaghan; Jonny Carlin, Danny Cullen (0-2); Conor Gallen, Declan Coulter (0-12, 11f), Davin Flynn; Josh McGee, Kevin Campbell (1-0), Bernard Lafferty. Sub:Colm Melaugh for McGee (50).
Referee: James Connors (St Eunan’s)