Almost a one-man show in this Cork County SHC second-round clash at Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday evening as Cork ace Conor Lehane fired over an impressive 1-13 tally to send Midleton into a mouth-watering third-round clash with champions Imokilly after a workmanlike victory over a game Ballymartle side whose two goals were not enough to upset the Magpies.
After a slow start, just two points from play in his first-half six points tally, the roving Lehane gave the Ballymartle defence plenty to think about in the second-half and his 42nnd minute goal, after being set up by midfielder Tommy O’Connell, was the defining score.
It should be an intriguing contest against the champions now with Midleton hell bent on avenging last year’s final defeat at the hands of the East Cork division. In truth though, on this performance they will really have to up the ante.
Ballymartle put up a stern resistance, their goals from Brian Corry in the 13th minute and Rickard Cahalane in the 39th minute, after good work by Graham Webb, kept them in the picture. But
Lehane’s scoring prowess proved a bridge too far and the Magpies now have a chance for redemption in round three.
Midleton selector Ger Fitzgerald was looking on the positive side.
There was little sparkle in the opening half with Ballymartle taking a quick lead via wing forward Eoin Healy, one of their better players on the night.
Sean O’Sullivan equalised for Midleton but the Carrigdhoun side should have goaled in the seventh minute when Dan Dwyer ghosted through the Midleton defence but his shot went over the crossbar.
A couple of frees from Lehane and Luke Farrell’s solitary point had Midleton ahead until Corry’s 13th minute opening goal, after good work by Jack Dwyer, put Ballymartle ahead.
The lead did not last long though as Lehane and O’Connell fired Midleton ahead, 0-6 to 1-2, after the opening quarter.
Nothing between the sides until Midleton showed their muscle in the closing minutes of the half with Lehane firing over two from play and Aidan Ryan and Garan (correct) Manley also pointing to earn Midleton a 0-11 to 1-4 interval lead.
Both sides gave it a real go in the second half. Lehane had a brace for the Magpies with Jack Dwyer and Healy replying for Ballymartle.
But then came Cahalane’s 39th minute goal and suddenly just a point separated the sides. With Eoghan O’Leary playing well in defence for Ballymartle, Healy’s 41st minute had them level again and it was game on.
But then came Lehane’s goal strike and he finished the quarter with two more points as Midleton led 1-15 to 2-7 entering the final quarter.
In fairness to Ballymartle they kept plugging away, Healy taking his tally to seven points and Brian Corry also helping out on the scoreboard.
But with Lehane the assassin, Manley also rowing in and substitute Pat White also getting on the scoreboard it proved a bridge too far for a very spirited Ballymartle side.
Scorers for Midleton:
C. Lehane 1-13 (0-9 frees), G. Manley 0-2, S. O’Sullivan, L. Farrell, T. O’Connell, A. Ryan, P. White 0-1 each.
Scorers for Ballymartle:
E. Healy 0-7 (0-5 frees), B. Corry 1-2, R. Cahalane 1-0, D. Dwyer, J. Dwyer 0-1 each.
J. Loftus; A. Daly, L. Dineen, S. Smyth; S. O’Sullivan, S. O’Leary-Hayes, J. Nagle; T. O’Connell, E. Walsh; L. O’Farrell, J. Hegarty, A. Ryan; I. Kennefick, C. Lehane, G. Manley.
P. White for Kennefick (31m).
P. Allen; D. Edmunds, C. Coleman, E. O’Leary; S. O’Mahony, J. Ryan, L. Corry; G. Webb, S. Corry; J. Dwyer, R. Cahalane, E. Healy; S. Cummins, B. Corry, D. Dwyer.
K. McCarthy for Cummins (ht), D. O’Leary for J. Dwyer (50m).
M. Maher (St. Finbarr’s).