Huge relief for Newtownshandrum at Kilworth on Saturday, heartache though for Killeagh, their Trojan effort to cause a huge Cork SHC upset thwarted in extra-time by two cracking Cathal Naughton goals, leaving them with a tricky backdoor clash with Cloyne.
It was a result Newtown hardly deserved. Their short-passing game, so sweet at times, produced some excellent points, but they rarely got in behind a tough Killeagh rearguard, limiting goal chances to a premium. And when the Killeagh goals came, against a very loose Newtown rearguard, they found themselves in a battle.
Naughton’s good fortune was cruel luck on Killeagh defender Kieran Lane. Up to that point he had marshalled the Cork forward well, just a point to show for over 70 minutes of hurling. In fact the Killeagh defence, especially Colin Fogarty, Brendan Barry and Lane, were terrific, keeping the Newtown inside division relatively quiet. But quiet only to a point, for when Michael Bowles popped over a 35th minute point, every Newtown forward had hit the target.
But they never looked like getting a goal until those two minutes of magic from Naughton, one a mistake by Mark Landers, who had a fine match. Naughton followed with a point and the whole game turned their way. Killeagh did hit back with a fourth goal from hard working substitute David Cahill, but it was not enough to save the day.
"We trained to get goals, we didn’t, because we didn’t go at them," admitted Newtown boss Bernie O’Connor. "But, when we did go at them, and did what we practised, the goals came."
And spare a thought for old warrior Joe Deane. He was outstanding, a threat all night with a smashing 1-8 return — his 50th minute goal a real beauty, grabbing the ball between Newtown defenders Jerry O’Mahony and Jack Herlihy before powering through for a cracker, levelling the match at 2-7 to 0-13.
Eoghan Loughlin had got their first in the 32nd minute, this score also levelling things up after Newtown had led 0-9 to 0-6 at the break thanks to some sublime play from Ben O’Connor at centre-back and brother Jerry, who was all over the park as a third midfielder. Just two goal chances of significance in this period, Loughlin having an early Killeagh chance forced out for a 65 and Naughton having a shot brilliantly saved by Bernard Rochford.
Some exciting moments in the final quarter as both sides went for victory and it was another golden oldie who almost won it for Newtown in the 63rd minute, substitute Pat Mulcahy lashing over a beauty from distance only for Deane to land a last-gasp free to make it 2-10 to 0-16 at full time and into extra-time.
As Newtown wasted chances – 15 wides over the 70 minutes – Killeagh were far more economical. Joe Budds, back on the park after being substituted in normal time, struck a 67th minute goal and followed with a point as they raced into a 3-11 to 0-18 lead entering the second period.
It got even better when Deano pointed another free. But then came that double blast from Naughton, with great help from Jamie Coughlan — golden goals struck clinically and at pace. No way back for Killeagh.
Scorers for Newtownshandrum: C Naughton 2-2, J Coughlan, B O’Connor (2fs) 0-4 each, R Clifford 0-3fs, J O’Connor, K O’Connor 0-2 each, D Stack, M Bowles, P Mulcahy 0-1 each.
Scorers for Killeagh: J Deane 1-8 (5fs, 1 65), J Budds 1-2, E O’Loughlin, D Cahill 1-0 each, P O’Neill, M Landers 0-1 each.
NEWTOWNSHANDRUM: W Biggane; J O’Mahony, J Herlihy, R Fallon; E O’Connor, B O’Connor, M Ryan; P J Copse, K O’Connor; C Naughton, J Coughlan, M Bowles; R Clifford, D Stack, J O’Connor
Subs: P Mulcahy for O’Mahony (51), JP King for Stack (50).
KILLEAGH: B Rochford; C Fogarty, C Fogarty, S Murphy; P O’Brien, B Barry, K Lane; B Collins, P O’Neill; M Landers, M Byrne, J Budds; E Loughlin, S Long, J Deane.
Subs: D Cahill for Budds (25), Budds for Loughlin (50).
Referee: K Murphy (Nemo Rangers).