St Michael’s progressed to a third straight Cork Premier IFC final, and a fourth in five years as a one-sided first half put them firmly in control of this semi-final replay against Kanturk at Páirc Uí Rinn yesterday.
A week previously, Michael’s had allowed a five-point interval lead to dissipate as Kanturk came back to level, but a 2-9 to 1-2 advantage here – with Kanturk’s goal deep in injury time – was too commanding to be eroded in any meaningful way.
An uneventful second half saw four points shared and Michael’s manager John Holly was naturally pleased with the outcome.
“You’re always happy when you win a semi-final,” he said.
“It wasn’t the best performance but we’ll take it. We could have lost the drawn game, so any time you make a final you have to be positive.
“We’ve only seven days to prepare, so it’ll be tough, we actually have a junior A game during the week so it could be messy but to be playing football at this time of year is a good time “We’ll recover and we’ll look ahead to the final and try to get the bodies and the minds sorted.” The St Michael’s pre-match preparations could have been hampered by a late injury, but Holly felt that the response underlined the composure of the team.
“We had a crazy one today, we lost Andrew Murphy in the warm-up,” he said.
“You were thinking it might have upset the lads, but they said, ‘That’s fine, we’re going to sort this out and get the job done,’ and they did.
“That would upset a lot of players, seeing that happen and knowing it happened, but they steeled themselves.” The first-half dominance took time to materialise. The game’s first two points were shared, Domhnall Cremin for Michael’s and Paul Walsh for Kanturk, but the city side, with the wind behind them, wasted some early opportunities. While Mark Healy was latching on to breaks for Kanturk though, they couldn’t capitalise at the other end and by the 12th minute Michael’s were 0-4 to 0-1 ahead after a Tadhg Deasy free.
They had given signals of their goalscoring potential too, Jordan Fullerton denying Deasy and Joe Carver having to block Liam O’Sullivan’s follow-up, while a superb Lorcán McLoughlin intervention was needed on 11 when Deasy was almost in.
It didn’t take too long for the green flag to be raised, however, and it set in train an unstoppable flow of scores. Tom Lenihan, Daniel Meaney and O’Sullivan were involved in the build-up as the ball was worked to Deasy on the left in the 14th minute and he still had a lot to do but he powered goalwards and unleashed a blistering shot to the top corner.
Keith Hegarty then made it 1-5 to 0-1 after Billy Cain hit the post with a goal effort, and a second goal arrived on 16 when O’Sullivan pounced after Alan O’Callaghan’s shot was saved by Fullerton.
Deasy added three more points with Dan Lenihan on target too as Kanturk left four shots into the hands of Michael’s goalkeeper Martin Burke, though the Duhallow side did end a 23-minute scoring drought as Ian Walsh converted a free.
In injury time, the full-forward was heavily involved as they gave themselves some hope, his pass allowing Daniel O’Connell to finish to the net from close range.
Mark Healy did reduce to lead to nine for Kanturk, who redeployed Aidan Walsh to full-forward for the second half, but that was as close as they came. O’Sullivan and Deasy ensured that Michael’s pushed further ahead, making Ian Walsh’s late free nothing more than a consolation.
Holly felt that there had been a distinct improvement from the drawn game.
“I suppose just the overall concentration and awareness levels,” he said.
“The concentration dropped off completely in the second half in Mallow. Trying to pinpoint what it was, it was hard to know, but we were just more switched on today, from the word go.
“We didn’t miss tackles and we were really putting our bodies into it and our half-forward line worked hard. It’s a simple thing really but if you’re switched and moving more and alert, it improves the whole lot.” Beaten in deciders by Mallow two years ago and Fermoy in 2018, Michael’s will hope for third time lucky.
“Things are different this year in a lot of ways,” Holly said, “we just said in the dressing room that they have to be different on the pitch too next Sunday.
“Last year was a bit of a disaster, but in 2017 we played well, so I’ve no problems looking back on that.
“It’s not as if we haven’t played well in county finals before, we just have to put our best foot forward and hopefully get over the line.”
Scorers for St Michael’s: T Deasy 1-6 (0-2 frees), L O’Sullivan 1-1, D Lenihan, E Hegarty, K Hegarty, D Cremin 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kanturk: D O’Connell 1-0, I Walsh 0-2 (frees), P Walsh, M Healy 0-1 each.
ST MICHAEL’S: M Burke; O O’Sullivan, R Dineen, T Lenihan; D Meaney, A O’Callaghan, D Cormack; B Cain, S O’Keeffe; D Lenihan, T Deasy, K Hegarty; L O’Sullivan, E Hegarty, D Cremin.
Subs: E Buckley for Cremin, E Sheehan for Cormack (both 39), A Hennessy for Lenihan (44), E Hickey for E Hegarty (50), J Golden for Cain, S Keating for K Hegarty (both 60).
KANTURK: J Fullerton; J McLoughlin, D Browne, J Carver; L McLoughlin, A Sheehy, L O’Neill; A Walsh, P Walsh; M Healy, R Walsh, D O’Connell; K Holland, I Walsh, J Fitzpatrick.
Subs: L O’Keeffe for Holland (39), C Clernon for R Walsh (44), C Mullane for O’Connell (46, black card), D O’Connor for Sheehy (50), L Cashman for Carver (58), E Geaney for L McLoughlin (60).
Referee: J Ryan (Macroom).