THE last four of the Cork SHC will have a novel appearance this season as Carrigtwohill bridged a 58-year gap since they last featured at that stage after they claimed the spoils against Cloyne in an enthralling quarter-final tie in Páirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday.
It was a superb success for Carrigtwohill, as they overcame a five-week hiatus from competitive action to rack up an impressive total of 1-20 over the hour and stave off the determined efforts of Cloyne in a frantic finish. A late Cloyne scoring spree that saw them strike 1-4 in the closing 12 minutes with Chris Smith finding the net, succeeded in cutting the gap to one but the defiance of the Carrigtwohill rearguard ensured they did not break through for a levelling score. And when the opportunity presented itself to wing-forward Stephen Kidney to hit the insurance point in injury-time, he duly obliged with a glorious shot from the right wing.
Carrigtwohill’s resilience was demonstrated here as they proved again their ability to cope without a host of established names. Jason Barrett, Ronan Power, Brian Lordan, Seamie O’Farrell and Andrew Garde were all sidelined with injuries before the start and 11 minutes in, Matthew Foley was forced to retire with a broken finger.
However Carrigtwohill made light of those absentees as they produced a scintillating attacking display. Their full-forward line of Tomas Hogan, Robert White and Mickey Fitzgerald, signified their threat as they chalked up a combined return of 1-14. In the half-forward line Niall McCarthy provided plenty leadership, Daniel O’Mahony was very prominent in the midfield exchanges while in defence Pat O’Sullivan and Colm O’Connell excelled throughout. The result marked the end of a highly successful weekend for O’Connell, who made a vital impact for Avondhu in their Cork SFC fourth round victory over Aghada on Friday night.
Carrigtwohill’s success sets up a mouth-watering semi-final tie against local rivals Midleton. The pairing will evoke memories of the riveting two-game saga between the clubs in the relegation semi-final two years ago, yet both have undergone major transformations since then.
"It’s amazing how things turn around", admitted Carrigtwohill manager James O’Connor, a native of Lismore, afterwards. "Two years ago both clubs were trying to avoid going down and now one of us will be in the county final. It should be a great hurling game and there’ll be huge interest in it."
Cloyne have contributed much to this year’s championship yet their ambitions were halted here by a superior attacking force. Despite the early fillip of a brilliant individual goal by Mikey Walsh, they were on the backfoot for much of the first-half. Hogan and Fitzgerald lead the way in the scoring stakes for Carrigtwohill and by the 24th minute they had accelerated into a 0-7 to 1-0 lead. However Cloyne gradually settled to the tempo of the game with Paudie O’Sullivan atoning for some uncharacteristic misses from placed balls, by converting three frees before the break.
At the interval Cloyne were satisfied to be within touching distance as they trailed by 0-10 to 1-4 but were it not for a brave block by William McCarthy to deny Paudie O’Sullivan a goal, they would have drawn level.
Turning with the wind at their backs, Cloyne thrived in the early stages of the second-half. Paudie O’Sullivan, operating in the half-forward line since the midway juncture of the first-half, was starting to wreak havoc. His older brother Colm touched home a high ball to the net in the 33rd minute and they were 2-6 to 0-10 in front.
However Carrigtwohill responded decisively. In the period between the 35th and 47th minutes, they struck 1-7 and only conceded two points. It was a defining phase in settling this contest and Robert White was particularly to the fore, shining after being shifted to wing-forward. The goal arrived in the 46th minute with Kidney acting as the architect and Fitzgerald having the task of finishing to the net. They had to weather a late Cloyne storm yet Carrigtwohill had done enough up front to justify their semi-final placing.
Scorers for Carrigtwohill: M Fitzgerald 1-5 (0-3f), T Hogan 0-6 (0-4f, 0-1 ‘65), R White 0-4, N McCarthy 0-3, D O’Mahony, S Kidney 0-1 each.
Scorers for Cloyne: P O’Sullivan 0-8 (0-5f), C O’Sullivan 1-1, M Walsh, C Smith 1-0 each, C Cusack 0-2, Diarmuid O’Sullivan 0-1.
CARRIGTWOHILL: W McCarthy; M Foley, P O’Sullivan, S Forbes; M O’Riordan, N Furlong, C O’Connell; D O’Mahony, L O’Sullivan; S Kidney, S Flannery, N McCarthy; M Fitzgerald, R White, T Hogan.
Subs: A Gosnell for Foley (inj) (11), P Hogan for Hogan (58).
CLOYNE: D Óg Cusack; B Fleming, E O’Sullivan, B McCarthy; Diarmuid O’Sullivan, K Cronin, D Jermyn; Domhnall O’Sullivan, J Nyhan; D Cahill, C O’Sullivan, C Cusack; C Smith, P O’Sullivan, M Walsh.
Subs: K Dennehy for Nyhan (49), C O’Lomasney for Jermyn (52).
Referee: John Sexton (Ballyhea).