Barr’s on a high as old magic returns

THE battle of the Blues at Pairc Ui Rinn on Saturday went St. Finbarr’s way, the city club playing their best hurling for many a day when knocking a game Ballinhassig side out of the Evening Echo Cork SHC and booking a quarter-final date with either Sars or Imokilly in the process.

The faces of old war-horses Con Roche, Peter Doolin, Tony Maher and Ger Cunningham after the game told the whole story — this was one happy Barr’s camp.

They may have played in a yellow strip, but there wasn’t a yellow steak in sight, the Barr’s hurling with style and know-how, every one of the forward division finding the target. True they found Ballinhassig in benevolent mood – they had a massive 16 wides overall, many of them good free chances – but there was no denying this was a night for Togher to celebrate.

To say the Barr’s were clued in from the off would be an understatement. With full-back Eddie Burke and centre-back Ronan Curran sublime, they proceeded to open up Ballinhassig at will, despite falling behind to a quick Darren Dineen free.

Curran started the charge with a super point and more followed from Ger McCarthy, midfielder Brian O’Driscoll and a Kevin Murray free as the Barr’s led 0-4 to 0-1 after the opening quarter, albeit playing with a strong breeze at their backs.

Ballinhassig’s lot was not helped by the poor free-taking of Darren Dineen and they were dealt a huge blow in the 22nd minute when some good defending by Aidan Cronin put Kevin Murray through and he set up Cathal McCarthy for an important goal.

Ballinhassig were reeling. Paul Coomey did get a point back, but by half-time all the Barr’s forwards had found the target bar young Jonathan Crowley as they led 1-9 to 0-3 at the break.

No question five superbly converted frees by Murray in the second-half were vital to the Barr’s cause for, when the dangerous Fintan O’Leary struck for his first goal in the 32nd minute, after taking Michael Higgins’ long ball out of the air, the gap was narrowed to seven points.

Brendan Lombard and Higgins were much more commanding for Ballinhassig now, but a great point from Cathal McCarthy out on the sideline steadied the ship as the Barr’s led 1-13 to 1-8 entering the final quarter.

Robert O’Mahony, who worked his socks off for the Barr’s, was all action now as was Curran and young Glen O’Connor around the middle of the park. And they needed to be for there was no way Ballinhassig were giving up the chase.

O’Leary was in for his second goal in the 50th minute and, but for a fine save by Barr’s keeper Fergal O’Mahony and some benevolent refereeing by John Sexton — everyone in the big crowd felt the big full-forward had earned a penalty — he could have had four.

But the night belonged to the ‘Blues in yellow,’ Crowley’s late point ensuring every one of the Barr’s forward division found their range.

A great night for Togher, a look of the Barr’s of old.

Scorers: St. Finbarr’s: K. Murray 0-7 (all frees), C. McCarthy 1-1, R. O’Mahony 0-4, B. O’Driscoll, 0-2, R. Curran, G. McCarthy, M. Ryan, J. Crowley 0-1 each. Ballinhassig: F. O’Leary 2-1 (0-1 free), D. Dineen 0-3 (0-1 free), P. Coomey 0-2, S. Dineen, J. Ahern, M. Coleman (free) 0-1 each.

ST. FINBARR’S: F. O’Mahony; A, Fitzpatrick, E. Burke, R. McCarthy; P. O’Brien, R. Curran, A. Cronin; G. O’Connor, B. O’Driscoll; C. McCarthy, M. Ryan, J. Crowley; R. O’Mahony, K. Murray, G. McCarthy.

BALLINHASSIG: M. Coleman; B. Coleman, D. Healy, S. McCarthy; J. Ahern, B. Lombard, B. O’Sullivan; D. O’Sullivan, M. Higgins; S. Dineen, D. Duggan, P. Lombard; P. Coomey, F. O’Leary, D. Dineen.

Subs: P. O’Sullivan for D. O’Sullivan (35), D. O’Callaghan for Duggan (39), D. Brennan for Ahern (59).

Referee: J. Sexton (Ballyhea).

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