Ballinhassig, shock but deserved winners over Na Piarsaigh last time out, started promisingly enough, but once Newtown moved into top gear the game as a meaningful contest died.
With Fintan O’Leary sparkling up front and Brendan Lombard impressive at centre-back, Ballinhassig were just a point behind when left half-forward Cathal Naughton soloed through and gave goalkeeper Martin Coleman no chance with a cracking drive in the eighth minute.
To their credit, Ballinhassig’s heads did not drop and with outstanding full-forward O’Leary scoring three delightful points from play, and centre-forward Darren Dineen accurate from placed balls, they succeeded for a time in staying close to the champions.
Then in the twinkling of an eye, following O’Leary’s scintillating strikes which left Ballinhassig trailing by just three points after 22-minutes of impressive hurling, the game underwent a dramatic transformation. A long delivery from midfielder Jerry O’Connor broke perfectly into the path of his twin brother Ben and the Cork ace made no mistake with a low shot.
O’Connor’s goal crushed the life out of Ballinhassig.Newtown finished the first-half with a flurry of points to lead by 2-9 to 0-6 at half time and even at this point it was as clear as day that there was no way back for a shell-shocked Ballinhassig side.
As Ballinhassig fell by the wayside, Newtown upped the ante to a very high level. Ben O’Connor, with 1-7 to his credit, was the star of the show. But Jerry also shone at midfield. Pat Mulcahy was in command at centre-back, while lesser lights James Bowles, John Paul King and Ryan Clifford also made their presence felt as Newtown moved out of sight.
Ben O’Connor, King, Bowles, Ryan Clifford and temporary substitute Sean O’Riordan scored some magnificent points as Newtown totally dominated the third quarter to lead 2-16 to 0-6. Ballinhassig’s only response was a point from a free by Dineen in the 48th minute to which Newtown responded with a third goal from Bowles, set-up by Naughton a minute later.Ballinhassig did receive a crumb of consolation when goalkeeper and team captain Martin Coleman hit home a goal from a 20-metre free in the 50th minute. They nearly scored another when a snap shot from Lombard was magnificently saved by goalkeeper Paul Morrissey in the closing seconds but, at that stage, Newtown were home and dried, victors by a huge 17 points margin.
: Newtownshandrum: B. O’Connor 1-7 (0-3 from frees); J. Bowles 1-3; C. Naughton 1-0; J. P. King 0-3; R. Clifford 0-2; M. Farrell, J. O’Connor and S. O’Riordan 0-1 each. Ballinhassig:M. Coleman 1-0 (1-0 from free); F. O’Leary 0-4; D. Dineen 0-3 (0-4 from frees); D. O’Sullivan 0-1.
:P. Morrissey; B. Mahoney, B. Mulcahy, D. Gleeson; A. T. O’Brien, P. Mulcahy, P. Noonan; John O’Connor, Jerry O’Connor; D. Mulcahy, J.P. King, C. Naughton; R. Clifford, J. Bowles, B. O’Connor. Subs: M. Farrell for John O’Connor; W. O’Mahony for King.
:M. Coleman; S. McCarthy, D. Healy, B. Coleman; J. Ahern, B. Lombard, M. Ahern; B. O’Sullivan, S. Dineen; D. O’Sullivan, D. Dineen, D. Duggan; P. O’Sullivan, F. O’Leary, D. O’Callaghan. Subs: D. Brennan for S. Dineen; J. Mullaney for P. O’Sullivan; P. Lombard for O’Callaghan.
: C. Lyons (Nemo Rangers).