Bishopstown 1-11 Midleton 0-11
A year after dicing with death in a relegation struggle Bishopstown, for the first time ever, are in a county SHC semi-final courtesy of a fully merited victory over Midleton at sun-splashed Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday.
For manager Peter Driscoll, he was clear on where the seeds of victory lay: "We sat down as a group this year and decided we had to work a lot harder in training. We upped our intensity. And now we have great self belief. We didn’t play that well in the first-half but in the second-half we worked really hard.
"We have not had a chance to think yet about Ballymartle [semi-final opponents] but that is a real 50-50 game now."
And for the winners? A place in their first county senior final. Who said romance is dead! These two had met in the first round of the championship this year already with a narrow win going to Midleton and that gave the city side a little bit of extra motivation going into a tie which largely failed to sparkle.
Midleton were disappointed at going out to Carrigtwohill in last year’s championship at the semi-final stage. This defeat will be even harder to take as their challenge faltered in the second-half just when they needed to kick on. In a low-scoring game a goal was always going to be important and the city side grabbed one through Ger McGlacken after 17 minutes which was crucial. But even more crucial was their second half work-rate and refusal to give up on balls which seemed like lost causes which generated a few all-important scores for them. Midleton had the better start and following a monster pointed free from goalkeeper Tommy Wallace in the first minute, Midleton attacked three times in the next five minutes and came away with scores courtesy of Conor Lehane, the hard working Padraigh O’Shea and a free from Cormac Walsh.
At that stage the early long balls into attack were working well, but after that fruitful opening period Midleton’s approach work seemed to slow up. They didn’t hit as many early balls and their forwards were never again to enjoy such time and space.
Still they would have gladly taken their 0-4 to 0-1 lead after 17 minutes but then a game changer. A high ball into the Midleton full-back line saw the defence dither and Ger McGlacken took advantage to shoot a bullet of a ground shot and tie the game for the first time. This score also settled Bishopstown and with Brian Murray influential at midfield, Pa Cronin and Ronan Conway seeing a lot of ball in the half-forward line and Shane O’Neill starting to open his shoulders in defence the impetus had swung towards the city side.
Scores were rare as defences tightened with Midleton’s Declan Ryan, Peter Dowling and Padraig O’Shea up front also influential. In a first-half that lacked real bite Midleton retired at the break a point to the good, 0-7 to 1-3.
The city side resumed the second-half with a defensive set up. Midfielder Kevin O’Driscoll played as an extra defender behind his half back line allowing Midleton to have their extra man in the middle of the field.
Michael Power, who had a fine second-half for Bishopstown tied the game just after the resumption and for the first time in the game Bishopstown went into the lead through a Pa Cronin free following a foul on Power.
Lehane and O’Farrell moved around in an attempt to get them more involved, but it was the Bishopstown forwards who were looking more threatening. Power made a lung bursting run and drew a free and then Tomás Murray did brilliantly to keep a ball alive that looked certain to go wide which led to another point.
Pa Cronin was on target from frees of all distances now and another long sideline from Brian Murray saw his brother Tomas slip a beauty of a point. For Midleton the scores had dried up and they simply could not find a way through though they were still in touch with three minutes to go when a Cormac Walsh free saw them just two points adrift.
But another fantastic block down of what seemed like a lost cause by McGlacken at the other end saw Power win another free and Cronin duly obliged.
He repeated the trick from another free and though Lehane had the last score of the game you got the feeling there was simply nothing going to deny Bishopstown their own piece of history and a place in the semi-final.
Scorers for Bishopstown: P Cronin 0-8fs, G McGlacken 1-0, M Power, T Murray, J Murphy 0-1 each.
Scorers for Midleton: C Walsh 0-5 (4fs), P O’Shea, C Lehane 0-2 each, S O’ Farrell, T Wallace (free) 0-1 each.
BISHOPSTOWN: K O’Halloran; D Lester, S O’Neill, C O’Driscoll; M Driscoll, I Jones, R Ryan; B Murray, K O’Driscoll; R Conway, P Cronin, T Murray; J Murphy, M Power, G McGlacken.
Subs: B Healy for M Driscoll inj (38) D Crowley for Conway (50).
MIDLETON: T Wallace; K Bourke, P O’ Mahony, D Ryan; E Breathnach, P Dowling, J Nagle; C Walsh, S O’ Farrell; K Mulcahy, P O’ Shea, P O’Keeffe; L O’Farrell, C Lehane, P Haughney.
Subs: A Ryan for O’ Keeffe (21).
Referee: D Copps (Ballyhea)