Promoted to senior ranks just two years ago, Bride Rovers claimed the scalp of mighty Glen Rovers 12 months ago and have now added the Blues to their list of conquests. And the brave and resilient Rathcormack side were full value for their triumph.
With Brian Murphy in outstanding form, they withstood a desperate last- ditch rally by the Blues who, in perfect conditions, had their fair quota of chances to rescue the game.
But failure to convert some gilt-edged point opportunities, particularly near the end, cost them dearly.
St Finbarr’s also allowed their opponents to gain the initiative from the off, which proved crucial in their demise. With full-forward Jerome O’Driscoll striking accurately from frees and play, Bride Rovers stormed into the lead and a goal from Richie Cahill in the eighth minute following some great approach work by corner forward Sean Ryan, a deadly thorn in the Blues’ defensive armour, left them 1-4 to 0-2 in front.
The Barrs, whose only response to Bride Rovers’ whirlwind start was two pointed frees from Kevin Murray, did hit back, however. Wing forward Ger McCarthy had a drive for goal brilliantly deflected over for a point by goalkeeper Barry Hazelwood and with scores from corner-forwards Robert O’Mahony and Cathal McCarthy the Blues clawed their way back to within two points at the end of the opening quarter.
St Finbarr’s only played in patches and again found themselves four points adrift before Murray set up O’Mahony for a peach of a goal in the 21st minute.
Two late pointed frees from Murray saw the Barrs trail at half time 1-10 to 1-9.
O’Driscoll, who scored seven points, stretched Bride Rovers’ lead after the resumption, but Ronan Curran threw things back into the melting pot when he pointed after being moved from centre-back to midfield. Unfortunately for St Finbarr’s, Curran was not an influential figure.
It was nip and tuck all through the second half but, with Brian Murphy performing spectacularly when moved from midfield to full back, Bride Rovers never allowed St Finbarr’s to hit the front.
Splendid points from Terry Broderick and some great long-range converted frees by Barry Johnson kept Bride Rovers in the driving seat, while it was left to the free-taking expertise of Murray, in the main, to keep the Barrs in contention entering the closing quarter.
Two points separated them going into injury time after prolonged stoppages for injuries. Now with their backs to the wall, St Finbarr’s mounted an all-out offensive. O’Mahony soloed in across the end line and set up Ger McCarthy for a goal. But the Barr’s joy was short lived as the referee’s whistle had sounded earlier for a free out.
The Barrs continued to roll forward but a goal attempt from a slightly angled 20-metre free by goalkeeper Sean Barry was saved on the line.
Bride Rovers, who led from start to finish, deserve their place in the quarter-final against Erin’s Own.
: Bride Rovers: R Cahill 1-1; J O’Driscoll 0-7 (0-4 from frees; 0-1 from 65); B Johnson 0-3 (0-3 from frees); T Broderick 0-2; S Ryan 0-2; P Murphy 0-1. St Finbarr’s: R O’Mahony 1-2; K Murray 0-8 (0-8 from frees); G McCarthy 0-2; C McCarthy and R Curran 0-1.
: B Hazelwood; A Collins, B Walsh, J Murphy; P O’Driscoll, B Murphy, P Walsh; P Murphy, B Murphy; D Ryan, B Johnson, R Cahill; S Ryan, J O’Driscoll, T Broderick.
: M Collins for Ryan; Ryan for O’Driscoll.
: S Barry; P Buckley, E Burke, R McCarthy; E P O’Callaghan, R Curran, P O’Brien; A Fitzpatrick, B O’Driscoll; G McCarthy, M Ryan, D O’Regan; C McCarthy, K Murray, R O’Mahony.
: A Cronin for O’Brien; C Duffy for O’Regan; C Maher for Fitzpatrick; P Murray for Buckley.
: J Sexton (Ballyhea).