THE drawn match had been an engrossing and tightly-balanced affair but Cloyne’s complete superiority ensured there was to be no repeat in Saturday’s Cork SHC third round replay in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
The previous encounter may have ebbed and flowed with the teams locked at 1-18 apiece after extra-time in Páirc Uí Rinn four weeks ago but this was a markedly different affair. In a game that was shrouded in mediocrity for long spells, Cloyne lifted themselves from that malaise to deliver an emphatic success. A year ago they staved off relegation at this stage against Blackrock as they claimed a one-point win amidst huge tension.
This was a more clear-cut win. As the full-time whistle loomed, coach Maurice Cahill was able to relax, safe in the knowledge that their spot in the fourth round was assured and their senior hurling status retained.
"I was saying to one of the selectors coming up tonight that being six or seven points up near the finish would be great for the ticker and that’s how it was," he said.
"It was more relaxed at the finish than 12 months ago against Blackrock. We’re senior now again next year and that’s the most important thing.
"We’ve eight minors on the panel and this will bring them on hugely. It was a workmanlike performance, we did the simple things right. We brushed up on our defence today and closed them down. Sully was excellent, Billy Paw [Killian Cronin] was excellent and then Cusack was Cusack in goal."
Cloyne were full deserving of their success but Ballinhassig face the onerous task of trying to revive their season ahead of a relegation final meeting with Bishopstown. The south east men saw their performance slump drastically from the levels they had scaled in the drawn game. Their shooting was particularly abysmal, as it took them until the 24th minute to register their first score of the game and their attack only mustered 0-2 from play over the hour.
Despite the poor standard on show, Cloyne hurled that bit better in the first half and were worthy of their 0-6 to 0-2 interval lead. The key facets of their win were apparent from the off. Defensively they yielded little, combined well as a unit and had standout performers in Diarmuid O’Sullivan, Killian Cronin and Eoin O’Sullivan. Conor Cusack emerged as a greater threat up front as the game progressed while Paudie O’Sullivan produced some sublime play at full-forward.
A brilliant point by Paul Coomey was a rare bright spot for Ballinhassig in the opening-half and matters did not improve in the second half with Cloyne hitting four points in succession.
Ballinhassig managed to enjoy their best spell of the game around the third-quarter mark with substitutes Darren Dineen and Michael Aherne helping their cause, while Shane McCarthy and Brendan Coleman also took the fight to Cloyne.
An Aherne point in the 50th minute trimmed the gap to 0-11 to 0-5 but then Cloyne took over in style on the scoreboard as they shot six late points, Dillon Cahill’s stunning score from close to the sideline being the pick of the bunch. Their comfortable advantage could have been embellished further late on but Martin Coleman denied Paudie O’Sullivan a goal with a fantastic save.
Next up for Cloyne is a fourth round meeting with Glen Rovers where Cahill is hoping their recent match practice will be a key weapon in their favour.
"It’s two months since the Glen played while we’ve had four games now. You saw that with Blackrock on Saturday night against Bride Rovers. Championship hurling has definitely helped us, especially for our younger fellas.
"It’s a big challenge against the Glen but the pressure is off now with no relegation."
Scorers for Cloyne: Diarmuid O’Sullivan 0-5 (4fs, 1 65), P O’Sullivan 0-4 (2fs), C Cusack 0-3, J Nyhan 0-2, D Cahill, C Smyth, C O’Sullivan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Ballinhassig: D Dineen 0-2fs, D O’Callaghan (1f), D Brennan (1 65), M Aherne, P Coomey, S Dineen 0-1 each.
CLOYNE: D Óg Cusack; B Fleming, K Cronin, B McCarthy; E O’Sullivan, Diarmuid O’Sullivan, D Jermyn; Domhnall O’Sullivan, J Nyhan; C O’Lomasney, C O’Sullivan, C Cusack; D Cahill, P O’Sullivan, C Smyth.
Subs: M Walsh for O’Lomasney (19), K Dennehy for E O’Sullivan (59).
BALLINHASSIG: M Coleman; S McCarthy, D Healy, E Finn; B O’Sullivan, B Lombard, B Coleman; S McCarthy, D O’Donovan; S Dineen, P Coomey, D O’Callaghan; B Holland, D O’Sullivan, M Collins.
Subs: M Sheehan for O’Donovan (17), D Dineen for Collins (ht), D Duggan for Holland (38), M Aherne for D O’Sullivan (40), D Brennan for O’Callaghan (55).
Referee: Diarmuid Kirwan (Éire Óg).