Pleased with the victory, ensuring there are now at least six East Cork representatives in the quarter-finals — and possibly seven if Imokilly come through — he was delighted with a job well done.
And it was the style of their hurling that especially pleased him. Oft times they moved the ball with know-how, crisply and smartly, regularly cutting open a Duhallow rearguard that, in fairness, stood tall for a long time.
“Yes I’m happy. We played as a team and kept going right to the finish. Our hurling was excellent, that really pleased me. I know how hard it is for a division like Duhallow, I played with one long enough. We had to careful tonight, maybe we could have been more clinical, but I always though we looked comfortable,” said Walsh
No question, these Ballynoe battlers know how to hurl. Skill all over the park, they are well aware Sars will prove a far bigger test in the quarter-final. But after a few good results they might just be getting in the mood.
Inside 10 minute they were 0-5 to 0-0 clear, courtesy of a brace of points from Richard O’Connell and Cotter and one from Kearney. They were moving the ball with style.
But Duhallow kept their composure. Never intimidated they worked away. Wing back Donagh McCarthy finally got them on the scoreboard with a free on his third attempt in the 12th minute and, with Niall Cronin and Stephen Barrett settling down well in the halfback line, St Catherine’s began to feel a little heat despite leading 0-6 to 0-2 after the opening quarter.
Further pointed frees from McCarthy and Seamus Whelan left just two points between the sides in the 20th minute. But that’s as good as it got for Duhallow. A terrific point from Kearney lifted the Imokilly men and they finished the half strongly with points from Kieran Morrison, a third Cotter free and Richard O’Connell, to lead 0-10 to 0-4 at the break.
On the changeover Mark Sheedy had Duhallow’s first point from play and, when Whelan followed with his second free, suddenly the rank outsiders saw some light. However, it quickly turned into darkness in the 36th minute when a cracking run by Kearney set up Morrison and he made no mistake from close range.
St Catherine’s went up a few gears now, the introduction of Johnny Sheehan giving the Duhallow defence even more to think about. Noel O’Brien pointed, then Richard O’Connell. Just before the end of the third quarter came goal number two — Paul O’Connell setting up Johnny Sheehan — and Duhallow were buried, trailing 2-12 to 0-7.
Superb performance in defence from Shane Fitzgerald, Martin O’Keeffe and company ensured the St Catherine’s net stayed empty and although they only scored two more points in the final quarter they played with enough style and craft to make Sars aware they have a tough nut to crack.
Scorers for St. Catherine’s: S. Cotter 0-5 (0-3 frees). R. O’Connell 0-4, K. Morrison 1-1, Johnny Sheehan 1-0, S. Kearney 0-2, P. Cotter (free), N. O’Brien 0-1 each.
Duhallow: D. McCarthy (frees), S. Whelan 0-3 (frees) each , M Sheehy, B. Sheehan, P. O’Callaghan 0-1 each.
ST. CATHERINE’S: M. Walsh; S. Fitzgerald, M. Fitzgerald, E. Kenneally; C. Hogan, M. O’Keeffe, P. O’Neill; P. Cotter, Junior Sheehan; P. O’Connell, R. O’Connell, N. O’Brien; S. Kearney, K. Morrison, S. Cotter.
Subs: Johnny Sheehan for Morrison, C. Ahern for O’Brien, L. O’Connor for Hogan..
DUHALLOW: C. Tarrant (Banteer); J. O’Connell (Kanturk), C. Buckley (Banteer), G. McCarthy (Millstreet); N. Cronin (Kibrin), S. Barrett (Millstreet), D. McCarthy (Millstreet); S. Whelan (Tullylease), A. Crowley (Newmarket); M. Sheedy (Tullylease); D. Broderick (Freemount), B. Sheehan (Millstreet); D. Crowley (Kilbrin), N. O’Callaghan (Kilbrin), D. Murphy (Banteer).
Subs: K. McCarthy (Millstreet) for Crowley (BS), A. Sheedy (Tullylease) for A. Crowley, D. Manning (Banteer) for J. O’Connell, P. O’Callaghan (Kilbrin) for M. Sheedy.
Referee: J. Sexton (Ballyhea).