The Imokilly juggernaut remained on track for three-in-a-row when they swept aside the challenge of Carbery in the final stage of the Divisional/Colleges section of the Cork SHC in Páirc Uí Rinn last night.
They were far from their free-flowing best, but the did not have to be as they were always in complete control of proceedings on a miserable, cold and wet evening. Carbery were game throughout but the step up in class after last week’s win against Avondhu was just too much for them.
The first-half struggled to gain momentum due to stoppages, firstly due to an injury to an umpire and later when Imokilly’s John Cronin needed attention after a clumsy tackle from Kevin O’Donovan. O’Donovan saw red for his challenge and the size of their challenge grew accordingly even though the scores were tied at 0-3 each at the time with thirteen minutes played.
Imokilly, however, initially struggled to make their numerical advantage tell. Declan Dalton and Brian Lawton did push them into the lead but an excellent score from Paudie Butler had Carbery trailing by one, 0-5 to 0-4 with twenty played.
The east Cork outfit then finally found their rhythm when they hit seven points in six minutes as Dalton grew in influence at centre-forward, Brian Lawton made the maximum use of his possession and Ger Millerick drove forward at every opportunity from defence.
Carbery finished the half well, with points from the excellent Gearóid O’Donovan, Cathal O’Donovan and John Michael O’Callaghan. This left them trailing by 0-12 to 0-7 at the break and while it was far from an insurmountable margin, there was no great feeling that a shock was on the cards.
Indeed, they only managed three further points from O’Callaghan in the second period as Imokilly pulled away without ever hitting top gear. Barry Lawton had three points to match his brother’s contribution to the first-half, Mark O’Keeffe helped himself to three more and Dalton exhibited the full range of his talents as he scored from play, from frees and slotted over an outrageous line ball from seventy yards.
The reigning champions also got to blood some new talent with Shane Óg O’Regan getting on the scoresheet and Keith Dennehy and Cillian Broderick getting time on the field.
They will have plenty to work on over the summer as they registered, eleven wides, dropped eight shots into the hand of Kilbree’s Denis Dullea who also saved brilliantly from Dan Mangan on two occasions. There will also be concerns for Millerick who went off injured with twelve minutes to go.
The performance of Bill Cooper probably best summed up their evening as the Youghal man only ever did enough in his role as the spare man though he did have the final say with the game’s last score.
Still, it was very much a case of job done and with Colm Spillane and Séamus Harnedy to return, nobody will doubt their ability to improve or relish the challenge of knocking them off their perch.
Scorers: for Imokilly: D Dalton 0-9 (0-4 frees, 0-1 s/line, Brian Lawton, Barry Lawton and M O’Keeffe 0-3 each, P O’Sullivan, J Cronin, S O’Regan Óg, D Mangan, B Cooper and S Hegarty 0-1 each.
Scorers for Carbery: JM O’Callaghan 0-5 (0-3 frees, 0-1 ’65), G O’Donovan 0-2, D Coakley, P Butler and Cathal O’Donovan 0-1 each.
Imokilly: D O’Callaghan (Watergrasshill), M Russell (Aghada), C Barry (Castlelyons), G Millerick (Fr O’Neill’s), C O’Brien (St. Ita’s), B Cooper (Youghal), J Cronin (Lisgoold), S Hegarty (Dungourney), M O’Keeffe (Fr O’Neill’s), Brian Lawton (Castlemartyr), D Dalton (Fr O’Neill’s), Barry Lawton (Castlemartyr), P O’Sullivan (Cloyne), D Mangan (St Catherine’s), B Dunne (Fr O’Neill’s).
Subs: S O’Regan (Watergrasshill) for Barry Lawton (Temp; 8th-12th min), D Harrington (Fr O’Neill’s) for Cronin (Temp: 18th-22nd min, permanent 50 mins), S O’Regan Óg (Watergrasshill) for Dunne (37 mins), K Histon (Cobh) for Millerick (48 mins, inj), C Broderick (Fr O’Neill’s) for Hegarty (50 mins), K Dennehy (Cloyne) for O’Sullivan (55 mins).
Carbery: D Dullea (Kilbree), S Crowley (Diarmuid Ó Mathúnas), J Hurley (Kilbrittain), C O’Driscoll (St Oliver Plunketts), B O’Donovan (Kilbree), P Butler (Argideen Rangers) P Crowley (Diarmuid Ó Mathúnas), K O’Donovan (Diarmuid Ó Mathúnas), C O’Donovan (Argideen Rangers), G O’Donovan (Diarmuid Ó Mathúnas), John M O’Callaghan (Argideen Rangers), D McCarthy (Kilbree), P Wall (Kilbrittain), D Coakley (Kilbree), J Sheehan (Argideen Rangers).
Subs: D O’Donovan (Argideen Rangers) for McCarthy (h/t), C O’Donovan (St James’) for Wall and N O’Donovan (Kilbrittain) for Crowley, D Coffey (Kilbree) for C O’Donovan (AR) (all 48 mins), M Evans (St James’) for Coakley (55 mins).
Referee: Nathan Wall (Ballincollig).