Carrigtwohill remain on course to claim their first Cork senior hurling championship title since 2011, after they stunned Ballyhea with a blistering second-half performance in the quarter-final at Páirc Uí Rinn yesterday.
They trailed by a point at half-time, but found an extra gear to score three goals in a ruthless 10-minute spell and book their place in the last four against Glen Rovers orNewtownshandrum.
Central to their finishing power was substitute and minor James Mulcahy who, after battling back from injury, rammed home a hat-trick. While that was the good news story of the day, it wasn’t so good for Ballyhea as their top man, Pa O’Callaghan, was carrying a serious hand injury, and while he lined out and scored a first-half goal, he was clearly hampered.
Carrigtwohillhave come a long way since their 3-23 to 0-8 drubbing at the hands of St Finbarr’s in the opening round last April.
“A remarkable transformation,” was how coach Keith Ricken described it. “They had an awful start to the year. Any other crowd would have walked away from all of this. It would have been easy. But they stuck around, and I have huge admiration for that.
“We are getting the lads to genuinely give it their all. There is a great energy around, the place is rocking. It is a rising tide lifting all boats. If anyone told us at the start of the year we would be in the semi-final, they would have been told they were mad.”
The first half was a close affair. The sides were level three times before O’Callaghan found space to shoot a Ballyhea goal on 13 minutes. Liam Gosnell and Sean Rohan did their best to keep Carrigtwohill in touch. Approaching the interval, they were four behind thanks in the main to some fine scores from Ballyhea’s Tom Hanley and Maurice O’Sullivan.
However, Jamie McCarthy, Brendan Twomey and Tomás Hogan joined the scoring party to bring them within one point at the break, 1-9 to 0-11. In fact, one of the points might well have been a goal. Twomey – who was in full flight – just couldn’t gather the sliotar as he raced towards goal.
Carrigtwohill got their noses in front, landing two quick points. But the north Cork men bagged a second goal six minutes in through Gavin Morrissey, and momentum was on their side.
It was to Carrigtwohill’s credit they responded with an unanswered 2-2. Rohan and Gosnell struck the points. The first goal came after an unfortunate collision between Jamie Copps and Barry Coleman left Gosnell through on goal. Mikey Browne saved brilliantly only for Mulcahy blast the rebound.
Rohan, who had an excellent game, played a big part in Mulcahy’s second goal. Ballyhea pointed twice, however when Seamus Roche off-loaded to Mulcahy and he doubled high to the net, a sizeable 3-15 to 2-12 margin had established.
Two points apiece from Eugene O’Leary and O’Sullivan made for a nervous finish.
Ballyhea hunted for a goal – Gavin Morrissey came close - but Carrigtwohill were not found wanting especially goalkeeper Shane Devlin who did well under pressure.
Carrigtwohill will have to wait until next weekend to find out their opponents.
“If we are underdogs, that is fine. Underdogs, over dogs, what does it matter? You go out on the field it is nil all. Sixty-odd minutes, the same for them as us. Fifteen against 15. It is all mindset.
“We will try and win it now. There is no point in gatecrashing this party and then going out for the best part. Nobody gave Carrigtwohill a chance in 2011 and there is nothing stopping them from doing it again.
“I was at the receiving end of 2011 with CIT
“ But this is my own parish and I was delighted to see them win that too. I would be hopeful enough these fellas won’t be going away just quite yet.”
Scorers for Carrigtwohill: J Mulcahy (3-0); L Gosnell (0-7, 0-4 frees); S Rohan (0-5); J Horgan (0-2); B Twomey, T Hogan and J McCarthy (0-1 each).
Scorers for Ballyhea: M O’Sullivan (0-9, 0-6 frees, 0-1 65); G Morrissey and P O’Callaghan (1-0 each); E O’Leary (0-5); T Hanley (0-2).
CARRIGTWOHILL: S Devlin; P O’Sullivan, R Power, P Barden; C O’Connell, P Hogan, A Walsh Barry; J Horgan, T Hogan; S Roche (Capt), E O’Mahony, J McCarthy; L Gosnell, S Rohan, B Twomey Subs: J Mulcahy for E O’Mahony (22).
BALLYHEA: M Browne; A Barrett, M Morrissey, J Copps; L O’Connor, B Coleman (Capt), L Hanley; J Morrissey, C Cox; T Hanley, M O’Sullivan, K Copps; G Morrissey, P O’Callaghan, E O’Leary.
Subs: L Crowley for J Copps (51 inj).
Referee: Simon Stokes (Tullylease).