It was far from ideal for Inniscarra at the halfway stage in their Cork Premier IHC quarter final at Riverstown on Saturday; they were a man down, three of their starting 15 had been forced off injured and they were five point behind on the scoreboard (1-11 to 0-9).
What transpired was an incredible 30 minutes of hurling from the mid Cork side – led by the dynamic Michael Coleman who struck 10 points – as they turned adversity to their advantage. To a man, they combined a highly impressive work-rate with an enormous will-to-win and booked a last four clash with Kilworth in two weeks.
“At half-time, we said there would be no excuses,” stated Ger Murphy from their management team. “John O’Callaghan and Sean O’Donoghue, who would be leaders of the team and had gone off injured, they spoke at half-time. We felt we hadn’t hurled. We have a panel of 26 and we are happy that every one of them is good enough to play in championship.
“We were down a man granted, but how often do we see the extra man on the losing team? We felt we had a chance. Castlelyons got the first score but we came level and getting to the front was very important.”
Dramatically shorn of captain and Cork star Sean O’Donoghue, John O’Callaghan and Con O’Leary through injury, Inniscarra were then reduced to 14 men in stoppage time in the first half when Liam Buckley received a red card for a challenge. However, as the game wore on, it never looked like they had a numerical disadvantage.
They struck seven amazing points on the trot upon the restart – Coleman, Colm Casey, Owen McCarthy, Michael O’Connell and David O’Keeffe – to hit the front for the first time, 0-16 to 1-12.
Castlelyons, who hadn’t played championship since April, were wasteful. Yet, they hit back through Eoin Maye, Michael Spillane, Tom Carroll and Keith O’Leary, and the game was still up for grabs with 10 minutes remaining.
McCarthy and Coleman edged unflagging Inniscarra into a two-point advantage. Twice the Imokilly men reduced the deficit to one point, but fittingly it was Coleman who had the final say with a terrific 10th point and his fifth from a placed ball.
A disappointing exit for Castlelyons who thundered into the contest with a goal from Anthony Spillane after 35 seconds. By the 20th minute, Inniscarra drew level, 1-3 to 0-6. As Castlelyons enjoyed another good spell that helped them secure a five-point interval lead, Inniscarra were thankful to goalkeeper John O’Keeffe for an important save.
The Muskerry outfit has regrouped superbly since their opening round loss to Watergrasshill. Now, a first semi-final awaits since they were defeated by Youghal in 2013.
“Red card is unfortunate and we have a couple of injuries. Maybe some of those guys will be back, I don’t know. We saw who came on today and what they did. It is going to be a hard team to pick for the next day.”
Scorers for Inniscarra: M Coleman (0-10, 0-5 frees), O McCarthy and C Casey (0-4 each), D O’Keeffe (0-2), S O’Donoghue, M O’Connell and E O’Connor (0-1 each).
Scorers for Castlelyons: A Spillane (1-3), M Spillane (0-5 frees), K O’Leary (0-3), B Murphy (0-2), N O’Leary, E Maye, T Carroll, A Fenton and D Morrison (0-1 each).
INNISCARRA: J O’Keeffe; J O’Callaghan, B O’Mahony, J O’Sullivan; A McCarthy, C O’Leary, C Lombard; L Ryan, S O’Donoghue (Capt); D O’Keeffe, M Coleman, O McCarthy; E O’Connor, C Casey, M O’Connell.
Subs: L Buckley for J O’Callaghan (10 inj), S Olden for C O’Leary (22 inj), S O’Mahony for S O’Donoghue (30+3 inj), C Buckley for E O’Connor (half-time), C Bennett for M O’Connell (58).
CASTLELYONS: J Barry; B Carroll, C Barry, C O’Neill; D Varner, N O’Leary, S Moroney; E Maye, T Carroll; A Fenton, B Murphy, K O’Leary; D Morrison, A Spillane (Capt), M Spillane.
Referee: Dave O’Farrell Jnr (Mitchelstown).