Midleton 1-17, Douglas 0-11
Cork SHC quarter-final
Páirc Uí Rinn
It will neither go down as a classic in Cork GAA annals nor did the winners set the world alight with the quality of their hurling, but an improving Midleton are sixty minutes from a second Cork county final appearance in three years.
The development of this Magpies side has been incremental this season – an effective game-plan and six wides to the 20 misdirected attempts in the previous round are a few examples of a club aiming for two titles in three years.
And to win this one without the services of the effervescent Conor Lehane (injured) enhances their achievement and increases confidence levels ahead of a last four meeting with Glen Rovers.
Douglas, meanwhile, were a huge disappointment, a pale shadow of the side that so ruthlessly disposed of Duhallow in Round 4.
Granted. they took the field without the leadership qualities of Eoin Cadogan (injured), but the city side could not replicate the form of the previous round which saw them record an impressive 3-16 (3-15 from play).
For some reason the confidence that threaded their play all season evaporated in the Saturday sunshine.
Lacking composure in front of goal, shooting a litany of first-half wides proved costly.
Three points from play summed up their evening, and only for the accuracy from placed balls by Mark O’Connor it could have been an embarrassing final score-line for the Seandún side.
Other factors impinged on Douglas’ off-night: Alan Cadogan, held to one point, was brilliantly man-marked by Patrick O’Mahony, while Stephen Moylan’s influence around midfield was curbed mainly by Pádraig O’Farrell.
And though an off-colour Douglas were miraculously still in this contest with eight minutes remaining, James Nagle’s 53rd minute goal ended any possibility of a comeback by the city side.
Midleton coach, Jerry Wallace, who has stated that he’d “love a cut off the Cork (senior hurling) management position” was delighted with his side’s performance, paying special tribute to the game’s top performer, Patrick O’Mahony, closely followed by the brilliant Aidan Ryan.
“It was a great improvement from the previous performance (against St. Finbarr’s). We controlled the game, our tackling and commitment levels were very good and we converted our shooting chances compared to the last day.
“Patrick had a very good game on Alan Cadogan and is as a good a hurler as you’ll find in the country. A gem. If we could get him to commit to Cork hurling, he’d be a great catch.”
Indeed O’Mahony’s talents could be compared to Bride Rovers’ Brian Murphy and his shackling of Cadogan over the hour was impressive.
The diminutive Cork forward did manage to get away from the suffocating presence of O’Mahony to arc over his side’s second point in the fifth minute but that proved his final contribution on the scoreboard.
It was the only time Douglas led in the game as Midleton bossed the game’s key battles and made a point of running at the Douglas defence, testing Eoin Cadogan’s replacement at centre-back, Mark Harrington.
And, notably, Midleton’s running game did create a plethora of problems for a Douglas defence penalised regularly for fouling. In Cormac Walsh, Midleton have a free-taker par excellence who slotted three in a row to push the Magpies 0-4 to 0-2 in front inside ten minutes.
The excellent James Nagle added his side’s fifth before more pressure on the Douglas defence, in which John Collins and Tom Delaney were working overtime, yielded a free which Walsh converted.
It was 0-8 to 0-4 on 21 minutes, Douglas just about hanging in there through O’Connor’s frees, and, while the losers had moments, they couldn’t convert the chances that fell their way.
However, they were glad to get to half time just two in arrears (0-9 to 0-7), Aaron Ward scoring a beauty and Walsh also enlarging his scoring feats just before the break.
As a contest it failed to ignite, though some of Midleton’s point-taking was redolent of the undoubted skill level that pervades Wallace’s squad.
Aidan Ryan shone at centre-back and Luke O’Farrell had a more enterprising second half, knocking over his only point from play in the 45th minute, one that kick-started a sequence of four points for Midleton to push them 0-14 to 0-8 in front.
Mark O’Connor replied with two frees but then came the game’s key play when Paul Hartnett combined with Nagle for the latter to fire home.
That well-executed goal precipitated blanket dominance from there to the finish for the Magpies – with Ryan imperious at centre-back, as Douglas’ season ended in disappointment.
Scorers for Midleton:
C Walsh (0-9, 6 frees, 1 65); J Nagle (1-1); P White, L O’Farrell (free) (0-2 each); P O’Farrell, C Hurley, P Haughney (0-1 each).
Scorers for Douglas:
M O’Connor (0-8, 7 frees, 1 65); A Cadogan, A Ward and E Dolan (0-1 each)
T Wallace; C Hurley, F O’Mahony, P O’Mahony; P Dowling (capt), A Ryan, K Burke; P Haughney, P O’Farrell; L O’Farrell, S O’Farrell, J Nagle; P White, B Hartnett, C Walsh.
P O’Keeffe for Walsh (blood, 33-42)
T Delaney; P Clarke, J Collins, C O’Mahony; P Shine, M Harrington (capt), T Cullinane; S Moylan, A Ward; M Collins, J Moylan, C Kingston; A Cadogan, M O’Connor, F Desmond.
M Dolan for Desmond (42); E Dolan for Ward (51); S Fogarty for Kingston (58).
D Kirwan (Éire Óg).