An injury-time point from Pa Cronin secured victory for Bishopstown in this hugely entertaining Cork SHC first-round clash.
Having sat in their opponents’ slipstream from the second minute onwards, Bishopstown took the lead for the first time in proceedings when former Cork captain Cronin confidently sent a 58th-minute penalty into the top left corner of James Bowles’ goal.
That score edged the Cork city club into a 1-13 to 1-12 lead, but there were a few twists and turns still to play out before referee Cathal McAllister sounded the final whistle some five minutes later.
A foul on Newtownshandrum captain Conor Twomey enabled Jamie Coughlan register his fifth free of the game and tie matters over a minute into injury-time.
Coughlan was subsequently presented with another dead-ball opportunity to move the North Cork men back in front, but it was from well inside his own half and out near the sideline. The corner-forward’s effort fell short, landing into the large parallelogram where it was gobbled up by Bishopstown’s outstanding defender over the hour, Shane O’Neill. The former Cork hurler sent possession to Colm O’Driscoll, who, just shy of halfway, was needlessly bundled over.
Cronin, ever composed, nailed the resulting free. Bishopstown ahead by the minimum, the clock showing 63 minutes elapsed.
McAllister allowed for one final play, but Newtownshandrum, who were crestfallen at the finish, were unable to fashion an equaliser.
Despite trailing their opponents for 56 minutes of this contest, it would be wrong to imply that Bishopstown stole this at the death, for, leaving aside the opening to both halves, they matched Gary Morrissey’s charges stride for stride.
Behind by the minimum at the break, 1-6 to 0-8, Bishopstown found themselves in a spot of bother seven minutes into the second period as four-in-a-row from Newtownshandrum, including two from substitute Jack Twomey, moved last year’s beaten quarter- finalists into a 1-10 to 0-8 lead.
Bishopstown’s response was to clip four of the game’s next five scores, Michael Power and sub Shane Lordan contributing.
With the scoreboard reading 1-11 to 0-12, Bishopstown, although visibly growing in confidence, were unable to make further inroads for the time being as four successive shots dropped into the grateful paw of James Bowles. This wastefulness followed a first-half where they registered seven wides.
Tim O’Mahony’s second point to push their lead back out to three was Newtownshandrum’s first score in 15 minutes. Indeed, in the closing 24 minutes, they managed only two scores.
Cronin’s penalty, arising from Jerry O’Mahony upending James Scally, was the decisive score. His temperament was again on show when nailing the game-winning free in injury-time. According to one member of the Bishopstown backroom team, Cronin had failed to convert two penalties in recent league games. Third time lucky, and all of that.
Members of the losing camp weren’t best pleased with the officiating of Cathal McAllister and made their feelings known to the referee as he walked from the field afterwards.
Newtown began with a two-man inside line, Jamie Coughlan and Tim O’Mahony positioned directly in front of Ken O’Halloran’s goal. The pair were well fed during the opening exchanges and fine use they made of this plentiful supply, Newtownshandrum racing into a five-point lead in as many minutes.
The opening score of this well-attended fixture was a second minute Coughlan major, the nippy corner-forward tearing in from the sideline and despite being fouled as he worked his way towards O’Halloran’s goal, McAllister correctly played advantage, enabling Coughlan to apply the finishing touch to a superb individual score.
Of their first-half 1-6, Coughlan supplied 1-4, with O’Mahony chipping in a white flag.
Neither forward saw enough of possession in the second period to exert as much influence as they had done during the opening half hour. Credit there must go to the winners.
Scorers for Bishopstown: P Cronin (1-8, 0-6 frees, 1-0 pen); K O’Halloran (0-1 free), B Murray (0-1 sc); C Walsh, J Scally, M Power, S Lordan (0-1 each).
Scorers for Newtownshandrum: J Coughlan (1-6, 0-5 frees); J Twomey (0-3); T O’Mahony (0-2); C O’Brien, J Lane (0-1 each).
K O’Halloran; Colm O’Driscoll, B Murphy, D Lester; B Murray, S O’Neill, E Byrne; C Walsh, B O’Driscoll; Colm O’Driscoll, P Cronin, J Scally; M Power, T Murray, D Quaid.
Subs: S Lordan for T Murray (HT).
J Bowles; M Ryan, D Hawe, P O’Sullivan; D Lane, C Twomey, K O’Sullivan; C O’Brien, D Guiney; J Lane, S Griffin, D Stack; J Coughlan, T O’Mahony, J Geary.
Subs: J Twomey for J Lane (18 mins, inj); D O’Connor for Guiney (40); J O’Mahony for P O’Sullivan (47); C Griffin for S Griffin (49); K Coughlan for O’Brien (50, inj).
Referee: C McAllister.