John Murphy Reports
LIKE the famous wedding feast, Rockies’ second string kept the good wine until last in this Cork IHC first round thrill-a-minute championship clash against Kilbrittain at Brinny.
Top of the bill in the double-decker hurling programme, it richly deserved its premier rating.
This was intermediate hurling at its best and it went down to the wire before Blackrock unleashed a trio of substitutes from the bench, Luke Fogarty, Ger O’Regan and Billy Cain, with devastating effect.
Not alone did it trigger off a remarkable unanswered scoring spree of 1-6, including a vital second Blackrock goal by super-sub Ger O’Regan in the 56th minute, it helped the winners to hold a now shell-shocked Seasiders outfit scoreless during that productive scoring spell by the city boys.
In reality, it was a flattering result for Blackrock as Kilbrittain contributed handsomely to this hurling cracker and could feel hard done by given the remarkable effect the Rockies subs made.
Built around a strong defensive spine from reliable goalkeeper Eoin Galvin, James Hurley at full back, Ross Cashman as centre back, a superb half-back line completed by Nick O’Donovan and Padraig Brennan dovetailing neatly with midfielders Tom Sheehan and the skilful Aaron Holland, Kilbrittain had cancelled out Alan Connolly’s early white flag with a beauty from Aaron Holland and two points from full forward and captain Maurice Sexton.
But the sniping runs of Connolly spelt danger for the Seasiders. After a couple of unsuccessful sallies, he struck gold. With midfielder David Busteed the service provider with a long delivery, Connolly fed full forward Olan Kelleher and he billowed the Kilbrittain rigging in the 24th minute.
Undaunted, Kilbrittain took the battle to their opponents. Midfielders Sheehan and Holland cracked over a couple of smashing scores while Rockies’ Mark O’Keeffe hit back with a fine solo score. At the break Blackrock held a slender two-point advantage, 1-5 to 0-6.
It was score for score during the closing half, both sides refusing to budge an inch. Then after Eoin O’Farrell had hit the target from a 65 after relentless Rockies pressure, sub Luke Fogarty gave the city lads a glimmer of daylight edging them ahead by 1-8 to 0-10 in the 53rd minute.
But scarcely had the Rockies’ cheers died down when a colossal delivery from Kilbrittain’s outstanding wing back Padraig Brennan into the path of Declan Harrington saw the substitute power an unstoppable bullet of a drive past Daniel O’Mahony.
It looked positive for the Seasiders but strangely they failed to raise a further flag and Rockies late surge propelled them past the finishing line.
Blackrock: Alan Connolly 0-5, Ger O ’Regan 1-1, Olan Kelleher 1-0, Eoin O’Farrell 0-3, (2 65s, 1f), Ryan Cantwell, Mark O’Keeffe, Luke Fogarty, Billy Cain, Ian O’Keeffe 0-1 each.
Kilbrittain: Maurice Sexton 0-6 (5f), Declan Harrington 1-0, Aaron Holland 0-2, Tom Sheehan, Philip Wall 0-1 each.
Blackrock: Daniel O’Mahony; Joe Golden, Brian Ahern, Mikey O’Donoghue; Conor O’Brien, Eoin Smith, Ryan Cantwell; Diarmuid Cormack, Martin O’Farrell; Mark O’Keeffe, Ian O’Keeffe, Eoin O’Farrell; Paul Kennedy, Olan Kelleher, Alan Connolly.
Subs: Luke Fogarty for Olan Kelleher (50), Ger O’Regan for Paul Kennedy (50), Billy Cain for Ian O’Keeffe (50).
Kilbrittain: Eoin Galvin; Sam Dewey, James Hurley, Damien Desmond; Nick O’Donovan, Ross Cashman, Padraig Brennan; Aaron Holland, Tom Sheehan; Cian O’Leary, Conor Moloney, Morgan Madden; Philip Wall, Maurice Sexton, Eamon Lyons.
Subs: Declan Harrington for Conor Moloney (inj, 41), David Desmond for Eamon Lyons (51).
Referee: Niall O’Neill (Midleton).