This was the first shock of the 2012 Cork SHC, underdogs Douglas downing the hot favourites Na Piarsaigh in Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday.
It took Douglas most of the first half to establish themselves but once they did, they shut out the favourites. Na Piarsaigh threw county star John Gardiner forward in the final minutes — in a last desperate attempt to manufacture a badly-needed goal or two. But they faced a resolute Douglas defence well marshalled by full-back David McSweeney and there was no way back.
Douglas led by just a point, 0-6 to 0-5, after 38 minutes. However, it didn’t augur well for the southsiders who were finding it particularly difficult to get past the outstanding Na Piarsaigh half-back trio of Séan Óg Ó hAilpín, John Gardiner and Ronan McGregor. The bulk of their scores came as a direct result of the massive puckouts by keeper Tom Delaney (a Kilkenny man, a Cork-based Garda) over the heads of that line.
Cork senior panellist Steven Moylan was sharpest of all onto the breaks with two early points, midfielders David Hanrahan and Mark O’Callaghan also hit a point, along with Alan Cadogan and Mark Collins, but as half-time approached, it wasn’t looking good for Douglas.
Those remaining few minutes however was when it all turned and it was all down to Delaney’s massive puckouts (he actually sent one ball directly wide, the full length of the pitch!).
First, full-forward Richard Murphy hit a goal, sharpest to the breaking ball in behind the Na Piarsaigh defence and shooting home from close range. Then a point apiece from Odhran Mulrooney and a second from Mark O’Callaghan for a comfortable 1-8 to 0-5 lead at the break.
Five minutes after the restart, Douglas landed another huge body-blow.
Anthony Dennehy (Na Piarsaigh) and Richard Murphy exchanged points, when — with a deft little dummy shuffle, Odhran Mulrooney stepped inside John Gardiner, passed to Steven Moylan who gave Alan Keating no chance in the Na Piarsaigh goal.
Against that gale it was a massive score and put them nine points clear (2-9 to 0-6) as Na Piarsaigh faced a mini-mountain to climb.
They did their best though. Seán Óg and Ronan McGregor continued to impress, but up front they were found badly wanting. Then again this had much to do with the superb defending by Douglas, by the rearguard of Paul Clarke, McSweeney and John Collins particularly, but with team captain Colm Lacey, new centre-back Mark Harrington and Max McGrath also doing well outside them.
Where was the Cork centre-back Eoin Cadogan during all this, you might ask? He started in the attack, where he was pretty much wasted for half an hour; shifted to midfield and was involved in much that was good about Douglas in the second half and got involved in a couple of scuffles with John Gardiner also, an interesting little sideline!
It’s the backdoor route now for Na Piarsaigh, who will play Bride Rovers.
Scorers for Douglas: S Moylan, R Murphy (0-2fs) 1-3 each, M O’Callaghan, M Collins, O Mulrooney 0-2 each, A Cadogan, D Hanrahan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Na Piarsaigh: P Goold 0-4 (2fs), J Gardiner 0-3 (1f, 2 65s), A Dennehy 0-2, A Brady, C Buckley, C Joyce 0-1 each.
Referee: J O’Connell (Lisgoold).