No stopping Newtown's charge

Newtownshandrum 0-15 Cloyne 0-9

It suggests the tiny North Cork hamlet is eminently capable of repeating their historic 2003/04 All-Ireland club title triumph next year.

The crushing win over Cloyne gives them a home tie against either Thurles Sarsfields or Lixnaw in a month's time and on the evidence of this display, Newtown have little to fear as they head into a potentially long winter and spring.

Under Bernie O'Connor, Newtown developed a style of hurling at under age level that was anathema to the purists but highly successful nonetheless. Having perfected the short passing game, the club took it on to adult level, and yesterday they employed their stock in trade to devastating effect against a Cloyne side that simply had no answer to their pace and precision.

Little separated the sides in the opening 12 minutes during which they matched each other point for point to be level three times. The 18,246 spectators sat back anticipating a classic. It never materialised. Clearly suffocated by the tension of the occasion and by the prize at stake, this game failed to live up to its billing.

That wasn't Newtown's fault, and apart from those early opening minutes, they were simply a class apart. Playing magnificent skilful hurling, they carved open the Cloyne defence time and time again and in a blistering 10 minute spell, hit over six unanswered points, three of them by the magnificent Ben O'Connor, to lead 0-9 to 0-3 after 25 minutes. Already the signs were ominous for the East Cork side.

Newtown coach Bernie O'Connor had warned his side against not conceding goals to a Cloyne attack that to date, had scored seven in this year's championship, and the fact that their goalkeeper Paul Morrissey didn't have a save to make is testament to how well his defensive colleagues did their job.

Newcomer Dermot Gleeson, who saw service with Ballinahinch (Tipperary), was a Tipp minor and Under 21, was unbeatable at corner back. Pat Mulcahy was equally as dominant in the heart of the Newtown defence and deservedly won the "man of the match" award, while Phil Noonan on his right never put a foot wrong all through.

Midfield was totally dominated by the Newtown pair Alan T. O'Brien and Jerry O'Connor, with a resultant abundance of ball going into their forwards where John Paul King, Cathal Naughton and Ben O'Connor in particular picked off their scores with ease. Their half time lead of 0-11 to 0-4 was a true reflection of Newtown's overall dominance throughout the field.

Cloyne needed a goal if they were to have any chance of turning this game around, but the Newtown defence was impregnable and they had to be content with picking off the points. Three in a row early in the second half threatened a recovery, but Newtown, with Pat Mulcahy imperious, Jerry O'Connor ruling the roost at midfield and his brother Ben continuing to torment the Cloyne defence, hit back and cancelled those Cloyne scores with three points of their own, all from the hurley of Ben O'Connor.

The East Cork side tried every thing to get Diarmuid O'Sullivan, having one of his quieter outings, into the game by switching him from defence to attack, but to no avail as the Newtown backs continued to hold sway and with 15 minutes to go, they still had their seven point half-time lead in tract, at 0-14 to 0-7.

Credit Cloyne, they confined Newtown to just one more point in the last quarter, but they could make no impression themselves in attack, and as the game petered out, Newtown remained firmly in control of a most disappointing decider.

Scorers: Newtownshandrum: B. O'Connor 0-6, C. Naughton, J.P. King, AT O'Brien 0-2 each, J. O'Connor, D. Mulcahy, P. Noonan 0-1 each. Cloyne: P. O'Sullivan 0-5 (frees); V. Cusack 0-2; I. Quinlan, C. O'Sullivan 0-1 each.

NEWTOWNSHANDRUM: P. Morrissey; G. O'Mahony, B. Mulcahy, D. Gleeson; D. Murphy, P. Mulcahy, P. Noonan; AT O'Brien, J. O'Connor; D. Mulcahy, B. O'Connor, C. Naughton; J. O'Mahony, J.P. King, J. O'Connor.

Sub: J. Bowles for J. O'Mahony.

CLOYNE: D. Óg Cusack; E. O'Sullivan, K. Cronin, D. Motherway; Donal O'Sullivan, Diarmuid O'Sullivan, M. Cahill; I. Quinlan, M. Naughton; P. Cahill, C. O'Sullivan, J. Cotter; P. O'Sullivan, C. Cusack, V. Cusack.

Subs: L. O'Driscoll for Donal O'Sullivan; J. Nyhan for V. Cusack.

Referee: D. Kirwan (Eire Og).

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