Murray’s late late show fires battling Barr’s past Imokilly

ST FINBARR’S fashioned a thrilling triumph over fancied Imokilly, thanks to two late pointed frees from Kevin Murray, in the quarter-final of the Evening Echo Cork SHC at Páirc Ui Chaoimh on Saturday.

The teams were level on three occasions before Murray’s golden strikes in injury time sealed an unexpected victory for the battling Barr’s.

Imokilly can only blame themselves for a shock exit. A very pale shadow of the side that hammered Sarsfields in the last round, Imokilly never got into their stride.

Whether Carrigtwohill and Watergrasshill’s qualification for the final of the Intermediate championship had a bearing on the result is open to debate but both clubs’ players failed to show their usual drive.

Imokilly, regarded by many as dark horses to win the competition, flopped badly and wasted gilt-edged chances from frees, particularly in the second half.

If Imokilly had a free-taker of Murray’s ability they would certainly have won the game. The pin-point accuracy of the Barr’s left corner-forward carried the day for the city side.

A hero was desperately needed to lift this uninspiring contest and Murray answered the call, hitting eight points from placed balls and also contributing well in general play. The first half was lamentable with both sides struggling to get their games together.

Imokilly, with two lightning fast points from Trevor O’Keeffe, led 0-4 to 0-1 after 12 minutes and were looking good, but with their top guns, team captain Jason Barrett and Niall McCarthy failing to fire, the divisional side failed to score for the remainder of the half.

Steadily, but without ever setting the world on fire, Barr’s battled their way back and two pointed frees from Murray left just the bare minimum between them coming up to the interval.

Then came the most crucial score of the match. Set in train by the outstanding Robert O’Mahony, wing forward Cathal McCarthy weaved past two despairing tackles and billowed the Imokilly net with an unstoppable drive.

It was a goal to savour and lifted the opening 30 minutes out of the doldrums. It was also a massive psychological boost for the Barr’s as, amazingly, they led 1-3 to 0-4 at half time, having played against a slight wind.

With Murray quickly scoring two points from frees it looked odds on the Barr’s would confound the critics.

They really upped the tempo with Ronan Curran and Aidan Fitzpatrick defending brilliantly.

Both were inspirational as the Barr’s continued their resurgence. However, their momentum was halted when a cracking goal from Niall McCarthy in the 34th minute gave Imokilly a much-needed lift.

And when young Robert White hit another stunner at the end of the third quarter to level matters this quarter final was well and truly up for grabs.

O’Mahony for the Barrs and White for Imokilly struck some magnificent points as both sides battled for supremacy.

It was nip and tuck stuff, but with Imokilly off-target with their free-taking, Murray showed them how it was done.

Cathal McCarthy missed two great chances of goals to seal matters but then up stepped hero of the hour, Murray, to steer the Blues to a merited victory with his two pointed frees at the death.

Scorers for St. Finbarr’s: C. McCarthy 1-0; K. Murray 0-8 (0-8 from frees); R. O’Mahony 0-2; M. Ryan, G. McCarthy and R. Curran (free) 0-1 each.

Imokilly: R. White 1-2; N. McCarthy 1-1 (0-1 from free); T. O’Keeffe 0-3; B. Ring and S. O’Farrell 0-1 each.

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

IMOKILLY: M. Fitzgerald (Carrigtwohill); S. Flannery (do), J. P. O’Connor (Aghada), B. O’Driscoll (Fr. O’Neill’s); M. Galvin (Aghada), B. Coleman (Youghal), S. O’ Leary (Watergrasshill); P. Regan (do), J. Barrett (Carrigtwohill); S. O’Callaghan (Watergrasshill), N. McCarthy (Carrigtwohill), T. O’Keeffe (Aghada); B. Ring (Youghal), S. O’Farrell (Carrigtwohill), R. White (do).

Substitutes. P. O’Neill (Aghada) for Barrett; P. Cahill (Watergrasshill) for Ring.

Referee: D. Copps (Ballyhea).

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