Fired-up Ballymartle march to semi-final

Ballymartle 1-17 Na Piarsaigh 0-17
A hard-earned win over favourites Na Piarsaigh for battling Ballymartle in this Cork SHC quarter-final at summery Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday afternoon but all the sweeter for that, said manager Anthony McCarthy.

“It was an outstanding win for the club — this is bigger than winning the intermediate All-Ireland club title a couple of years ago. We’re now one of the top four senior teams in Cork county and that’s a fantastic achievement for everyone involved, for the players, the coaches, the backroom staff, the whole lot. The commitment we’ve had from players, some of them coming home from abroad early. We had a shaky run-in to the game, could have done with another week but everyone got back and gelled well.

“This is a credit, too, to the panel, to the lads who got us here through the earlier rounds. It was a complete club effort, from the 30 players to the kitman, Paul Madden — everyone.”

Right from the first whistle, Ballymartle had the bit between their teeth, three points on the board (Ruarí Dwyer with two, Darren McCarthy with a huge free for the third) before Na Piarsaigh registered (point from the flying Cian Buckley) then another two, to take an 0-5 to 0-1 lead in just the ninth minute. All this after winning the toss and opting to play into the stiff downfield breeze — itself a contentious decision.

Anthony: “There was a big debate between management and players over which way we’d play, a divided debate. The management wanted to play with the wind, the players wanted to play against it — maybe they had more faith in themselves than we had!

“We left the decision to them and they delivered, a great start. I think that was the reason for our win — we were tuned in from the second the ball was thrown in. We were here for a match, not just to make up the numbers — we’ll take great pride in this now.”

Referee Cathal McAllister would play a pretty central role for the remainder of the first half, however, several very contentious decisions against the underdogs including a puzzling yellow card for centre-back Patrick Dwyer (had made clean contact on a ball out on the wing), the ball moved forward on umpteen occasions for dissent. With or without the referee’s contribution, however, Na Piarsaigh were always going to come back into this game, and led by their experienced county stars Seán Óg Ó hAilpín (at centre-back) and John Gardiner (midfield), the recovery began.

Gardiner was the point-man (literally) in that fightback, six points before the break, four of those from placed balls, wing-forward Keith Buckley with another, but Ballymartle did manage to chisel out another three points also into that wind, wing-forward Brian Corry (a great battle with Christopher Joyce) with two of those, leaving it tied at the interval, 0-8 apiece.

The wind was now in Ballymartle sails for the second half, however, and it would prove significant.

The sides exchanged points immediately on the restart, the outstanding Seán O’Mahony for Ballymartle, yet another contentious free by Gardiner for Na Piarsaigh. Ballymartle then got a grip on the game, however, three points in a row (Corry, Darren McCarthy, Jamie Dwyer) putting them 0-12 to 0-9 ahead, 40th minute.

Not for long — a minute later it was all square again, 0-12 apiece, Keith Buckley with two fine Na Piarsaigh points, Gardiner with yet another contended free, the ball brought forward a distance for dissent and into scoring range.

The 51st minute was when this game was finally won, however, the only goal of the game. The speedy Darren McCarthy (Cork sub senior keeper) had been causing problems for Na Piarsaigh all game; his pace again saw him inside his marker, bearing down on goal.

Darren’s well-struck shot was well saved by Alan Keating but in perfect position to slot home the rebound was Barry Dwyer. That score put Ballymartle ahead by four points, 1-14 to 0-13, a lead added to seconds later by a fine Daniel Edmonds point.

Na Piarsaigh did apply the pressure down the finishing stretch but a fired-up Ballymartle defence stood strong. And now? Anything is possible, says Anthony McCarthy. “Absolutely — if Carrigtwohill could win it last year, we can win it this year.”

Scorers for Ballymartle: Darren McCarthy 0-5 (4f); B Dwyer 1-1; R Dwyer 0-3; B Corry 0-3; J Dwyer 0-2 (1 65); S O’Mahony 0-2; D Edmonds 0-1.

Scorers for Na Piarsaigh: J Gardiner 0-8 (6f); K Buckley 0-3; P Goold 0-3 (1f); C Buckley 0-2; S O’Sullivan 0-1.

BALLYMARTLE: Declan McCarthy; Declan Dwyer, M Tobin, D Coleman; J Kelly, P Dwyer, S Corry; Dan Dwyer, S O’Mahony; B Dwyer, J Dwyer, B Corry; Darren McCarthy, R Dwyer, K Fitzpatrick.

Subs: D Edmonds (Fitzpatrick 30); D O’Leary (R Dwyer 60).

NA PIARSAIGH: A Keating; D Mannix, Adam Dennehy, E Moynihan; C Joyce, S Óg Ó hAilpín, R McGregor; A Brady, J Gardiner; P O’Rourke, S Glasgow (c), K Buckley; C Buckley, I McDonnell, S Duggan.

Subs: Anthony Dennehy (Duggan 23); P Goold (McDonnell 30); S O’Sullivan (Glasgow 56).

Referee: C McAllister (Aghada)


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