NOEL HORGAN REPORTS
THERE IS no denying Newcestown’s loss to Fermoy in the Co-op Superstores county senior A hurling championship tie in Ballincollig was particularly painful.
The fact is they looked the more likely side to prevail for most of the match, and they were certainly shaping up like winners with seven minutes of regulation time remaining.
Their five-point lead, 1-15 to 1-10, at that juncture wasn’t unassailable on the face of it, but the dominance enjoyed by Newcestown’s defence after half time suggested Fermoy would be hard pressed to make up the leeway.
Boosted by a goal from substitute Shane Aherne almost immediately after he had been sprung from the bench, however, Fermoy put in a storming finish, tacking on two points and another goal before Jack Meade replied for Newcestown with a point from a free six minutes into stoppage time.
To say Newcestown were visibly stunned at the finish would be putting it mildly, and team manager Charlie Wilson admitted the manner of the defeat was very hard to take.
‘I suppose the most disappointing thing was that we didn’t push on and fell asleep with about 15 minutes to go,’ he remarked.
‘It meant when Fermoy came at us, we struggled to deal with the momentum they had. To be honest, we just didn’t match the hunger, passion and drive they produced in the closing stages.’
Wilson accepted the players are bound to be a bit demoralised in the immediate aftermath of such a traumatic defeat, but he’s satisfied they’ll be ready to go again in their final game in the group against Cloyne.
‘There’s still everything to play for, we know it’s in our own hands to qualify for the knock-out stages, so we can’t be too downhearted after today,’ said the Newcestown boss.
In a game of fluctuating fortunes, Fermoy made the better start and were full value for an 0-5 to 0-3 lead with 20 minutes gone.
The complexion of the contest changed dramatically, however, as Newcestown then reeled off six points on the trot before Eddie Kenneally gathered a long delivery from corner-back Michael McSweeney to fire in a goal in the 28th minute.
Kenneally quickly tacked on a point from a free which brought his personal return to 1-8 (1-3 from play) in the first half, and left Newcestown leading by 1-10 to 0-5.
It was just as well Kenneally was firing on all cylinders at No 14 because none of the other Newcestown forwards made a decent impact before the break when midfielder Luke Meade and centre-back Eoghan Collins, with a point apiece, also got on the scoresheet for the Carbery side.
It was a similar story at the other end, with target-man Gary O’Callaghan carrying the main threat at the edge of the square for Fermoy. Involved in the majority of the winners’ productive raids, O’Callaghan did the spadework for a goal from Tomás Clancy, which gave Fermoy a badly-needed lift shortly before the interval.
Turning over 1-10 to 1-6 to the good, Newcestown hit the ground running on the resumption, stretching their advantage to six points, courtesy of scores from Jack Meade and Conor O’Neill, inside 36 minutes.
They remained in the driving seat for most of the second half, thanks primarily to the sterling resistance from Micheál McSweeney, Seamus O’Sullivan, James Kelleher, Eoghan Collins and Fionn Keane at the back where Cian Twomey managed to reduce the influence of Fermoy full-forward O’Callaghan.
While midfield was by-passed for long periods, Luke Meade was the most influential performer on view here, chipping in with his second point to push Newcestown 1-15 to 1-10 ahead in the 49th minute.
Their prospects continued to look rosy until Shane Aherne pounced for the goal that rekindled Fermoy’s fading hopes five minutes later, and triggered off the Avondhu side’s decisive push in a gripping finale.
Two points from their ace marksman Liam Coleman- the second a fine effort from play brought Fermoy level before Gary O’Callaghan added a goal deep in stoppage time to seal Newcestown’s fate.
Fermoy: L Coleman 0-7 (6f); T Clancy, S Aherne, G O’Callaghan 1-0 each; J Carr 0-3 (2f); D Lardner, D Daly 0-1 each.
Newcestown: E Kenneally 1-10 (7f); L Meade 0-2; J Meade 0-2 (1f); E Collins, C O’Neill 0-1 each.
Fermoy: J Condon; E Clancy, J Scannell, P Murphy; A Creed, D O’Carroll, B O’Sullivan; M Brennan, D Daly; D Lardner, L Coleman, T Clancy; J Carr, G O’Callaghan, J Molloy.
Subs: A Aherne for Molloy (inj, 39), J O’Sullivan for O’Sullivan (inj, 39), S Aherne for Carr (52).
Newcestown: C Wilson; M McSweeney, C Twomey, S O’Sullivan; J Kelleher, E Collins, F Keane; P Collins, L Meade; C Dineen, J Meade, R O’Sullivan; C O’Neill, E Kenneally, D Buckley.
Subs: N Kelly for R O’Sullivan (43), M Courtney for P Collins (56).
Referee: M Murphy (Carrigtwohill).