They may be the new kids on the block, but under-achievers Carrigtwohill signalled at Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday that they’re ready to finally claim the prized Evening Echo Cork Co Premier IHC title following their easy victory semi-final victory over Blarney.
Some fine hurling in the opening half, in which they blew Blarney away to lead by nine points at the break, will have given the city slickers plenty to mull over.
The match was really done and dusted at that stage, but it was the quality of their hurling which will have worried the ‘Town mentors most.
And to say Carrig coach Dermot O’Riordan was pleased would be an understatement.
“I think we proved tonight that Carrigtwohill are now a team, and I stress a team. Hopefully now, the days of Carrig teams self-destructing are over,” he said.
“These guys have put in a huge effort. Just look at Niall McCarthy — on Thursday his father was buried and he trained with us that night. That’s the new Carrigtwohill.
“The way the lads played tonight really pleased me. I told them a good start was vital and how they responded. They were all terrific.
“I know we’ve won nothing yet and Bishopstown will probably be favourites, but to win this title and get up senior would be a great moment for our club.”
And terrific they were, particularly in that opening half when some powerhouse hurling and skilful use of the ball had Blarney reeling.
True, Colm Sheehan came close to getting a goal for Blarney in the very first minute, but after Jason Barrett and James Hughes with a ‘65 exchanged points, Carrig proceeded to open up the Blarney rearguard at will and their attack wasn’t found wanting.
With Niall McCarthy outstanding — ably assisted by Barrett, operating around the middle of the park though pursued by James Hughes — the Cork centre-forward fired over two sweet points. Seamus O’Farrell added another and before the end of the opening quarter it was 0-7 to 0-1 to Carrig, young Robert White also showing what a talent he is.
And with Frank Flannery buzzing around midfield and Michael Barry marshalling a teak-tough defence to perfection, Blarney just couldn’t get into the match.
McCarthy then fired over their eighth point and although wing back Joe Jordan did get a beauty for Blarney and Hughes added a free to narrow the gap, there was no stopping Carrig, who were playing with spirit and power.
Before the end of the first half both McCarthy and Barrett had scored four points apiece and there was a goal to come just before the short whistle when Sean O’Farrell, so dangerous on the edge of the square, gathered a great long ball from Ronan Power and he gave Blarney ‘keeper Ronan Byrne no chance to fire Carrig 1-11 to 0-5 clear at the break. Blarney clearly had a mountain to climb in the second half, and one they never looked like scaling.
Hughes, their lone scoring threat, was now at centre-forward, John Hurley at full-forward and although Hughes did quickly reduce the deficit with a free they were never going to peg back a Carrig side that really only needed to be in second gear now.
Blarney were much sharper in defence now, where Dara McSweeney, Jordan and Julian O’Donoghue were much tighter. But to compound Blarney’s woes, Hurley then missed an easy free in front of the posts. Although Ross McNamara got another from play, once Brian Lordan got Carrig going with a 40th-minute point the game was over.
Leading 1-13 to 0-8 entering the final quarter, after Hughes had scored another beauty for Blarney, the game got scrappy and, at times, niggly. But there was no stopping Carrig, who looked a transformed side from early in the season.
And they finished with a flourish, the excellent Frank Flannery with two points and Niall McCarthy with three, giving the big Bishopstown contingent a taste of what to expect in what should be mouth-watering final in three weeks’ time.
Carrigtwohill: N McCarthy 0-7 (0-3 frees), J Barrett 0-4, Sean Farrell 1-0, Seamus Farrell, R White, F Flannery 0-2 each, B Lordan 0-1. Blarney: J Hughes 0-6 (0-3 frees, 0-1 ‘65), J Jordan, J Hurley, R McNamara 0-1 each.
M Fitzgerald; M Nolan, M Barry, M Foley; S Flannery, N Furlong, M O’Riordan; F Flannery, R Power; R White, N McCarthy, J Barrett; B Loran, Sean Farrell, Seamus Farrell.
D Healy (BS) for Power.
R Byrne; J Hughes, P O’Leary, J O’Donoghue; D Cronin, D McSweeney, J Jordan; M McCarthy, D McCarthy; E McCarthy, S Walsh, J Hurley; C Sheehan, S O’Donoghue, R McNamara. Subs: D O’Leary for Walsh, J O’Sullivan for Sheehan, A Shanahan for E McCarthy.
J Dorgan (Nemo Rangers).