It’s a long way back to April since Blarney played their first game in this season’s Cork County Premier IHC, a victory over Ballinhassig.
What followed was a bye into the quarter-final against fancied Valley Rovers at Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday evening but there was no sign of ring rust from any of their 20 mighty warriors in a cracking victory over the Innishannon outfit.
Six goals, points aplenty and some sparkling hurling made for a super contest and on this display they will have no fear of Fr O’Neill’s, in what should be a cracking semi-final.
No wonder selector Brian Hurley was happy: “The players showed great character out there. There was a nice blend of youth and experience and they all played their parts. Fair play, every time Valleys got a goal they went down and got a score inside 30 seconds. That was vital.
Blarney were up for this one. It only took the influential Mark Coleman 10 seconds to open their account and they never looked back. Shane Barrett and Keith Costello added urther points and it was the hard-working Chris O’Leary who kept Valley Rovers in the contest.
Pádraig Power should have had a goal for Blarney only for a fine block by full-back David Lynch, but it was Valleys who got the opening goal in the 15th minute when John Cottrell fired home after Rory O’Sullivan’s effort was knocked away.
Blarney led 0-7 to 1-3 after the opening quarter and continued to set the trend in the second quarter with some classy points. Conor Power and Joe Jordan were influential for Blarney as was Coleman at midfield and when Shane Barrett goaled in the 25th minute it enabled them lead 1-14 to 1-8 at the break.
In fairness Valleys never wilted. O’Leary fired over a cracking point and Kevin Canty was in for a goal just three minutes into the half after fine work by Rory O’Sullivan and Adam Keneally.
Blarney’s reply was commendable. Declan Hanlon soon pointed and in the 36th minute Keith Costello got a touch to Coleman’s delicious sideline for an opportunist goal. And it got even better in the 42nd minute when Coleman’s long free went all the way to the net.
Leading 3-18 to 2-12 entering the final quarter Blarney were never allowed take their eye off the ball as Valleys always looked an attacking threat, particularly O’Leary and John Cottrell and it was no surprise when the hard working Colm Butler got their third goal in the 52nd minute.
But it was as good as it got for Valleys as Blarney pushed on with some super points to deservedly book their semi-final spot after a fine performance.
Scorers for Blarney: S. Barrett 1-6, M. Coleman 1-5 (0-3 frees), K. Costello 1-1, P. Power 0-4, D. Hanson 0-3, R. Murphy 0-2, J. Crowley 0-1.
Scorers for Valley Rovers: C. O’Leary 0-9 (0-6 frees, 0-1 sideline), J. Cottrell, C Butler 1-1 each, K. Canty 1-0, A. Sheehan, J. Walsh, R. O’Sullivan 0-1 each.
BLARNEY: P. Hallissey; S. Crowley, P. O’ Leary, A. McEvoy; C. Power, J. Jordan, D. McSweeney; B. Ahern, M. Coleman; P. Crowley, R. Murphy, D. Hanlon; K. Costello, P. Power, S. Barrett.
Subs: D. Dunlea for Hanlon (38m), P. Philpott for P. Power (42m), M. O’Leary for Ahern (52m), J. Barrett for Costello (60m), E. Mulane for Jordan (60m).
VALLEY ROVERS: W. Burke; A,. Sheehan, D. Lynch, E. Delaney; D. O’Shea, N. O’ Donovan, W. Hurley; C. Desmond, J. Walsh; K. Canty, J. Cottrell, R. O’Sullivan; C. Butler, C. O’Leary, A. Keneally.
Subs: T. O’Brien for Sheehan (ht), S. O’Regan for O’Shea (42m).
Referee: B. Murphy (Carrigtwohill).