After the drama of the night before and last night’s curtain raiser between Ballyhea and Fr. O’Neill’s, this was a dreadful game of hurling. But that won’t worry the winners as they advance to round three for the first time in three years through the front door.
The standard of hurling, particularly in the opening half, was appalling. The skill factor was non existent, the striking particularly of side line balls was junior ‘B’ standard and the sportsmanship left a lot to be desired.
Referee John Sexton was the busiest man on the field, forced to issue seven yellow cards, five to the winners, in a first-half best forgotten.
Play improved somewhat on the change over and 14 man St. Finbarr[‘s — they had Aidan Cronin sent off for a second yellow card offence with 10 minutes to go — hung on for a victory they just about deserved.
With both defences on top, scores were at a premium and two evenly matched sides were level after seven minutes at 0-1 each. Barr’s hurling was that bit better and they eased their way into an 0-3 to 0-1 lead by the 10th minute thanks to points by John Neville — a super long range effort — and Kevin Murray from a free.
Murray could make little impression at full-forward on Brendan Walsh, and after picking up a leg injury late in the opening moiety, failed to appear for the second. Rovers, with Brian Murphy a commanding figure at centre-back, came closest to scoring a goal which might have lifted the standard, when Richie Cahill’s long delivery broke in the ‘Barrs square where everyone lost sight of the sliothar until Rory McCarthy nipped in to clear the danger.
The East Cork side had their second point after 15 minutes by Colm O’Keeffe, before Robert O’Mahony took an excellent cross field pass from Cathal McCarthy to score his side’s fourth point, their first for 19 minutes play.
The standard continued to be extremely poor as the half wore on and St. Finbarr’s were grateful to goalkeeper Fergal O’Mahony who saved bravely from Colm O’Keeffe for a 65 which Jerome O’Driscoll pointed to leave the Blues marginally in front at the break, 0-4 to 0-3.
Barrs upped the tempo on the change over and the introduction of Aidan Fitzpatrick for Kevin Murray was a significant help. Ronan Curran continued to lord it at centre back while Eoin Keane and Rory McCarthy did a lot of useful work in defence also and they led by double scores after 32 minutes with points by Shane Nott and Curran from a free.
The Rovers were almost totally dependent on Jerome O’Driscoll for scores and his accuracy from frees, kept his side in touch, By the end of the third quarter Barr’s were still three points to the good, at 0-10 to 0-7 and looking likely winners.
However, matters changed somewhat for them when the lost the services of Aidan Cronin for a second yellow card offence and had to play the last 12 minutes with 14 players but they were grateful that O’Driscoll’s accuracy from frees deserted him, and he missed two which would have made it extremely uncomfortable for the Barr’s.
However using their numerical advantage well, they pinned the city side in their own half for the remaining minutes and with six minutes to go, had the deficit down to the minimum and Barrs living on their nerves both on the sideline and in the stand.
In a breakaway away attack Cathal McCarthy eased the pressure with a point, but that dreaded two point lead hung heavy on St. Finbarrs and it got worse for them when Eddie Burke was adjudged to have fouled the sliothar and the Rovers were awarded a 20 metre free.
Up stepped Barry Johnson but his shot was blocked by the eight man wall to allow the Barrs survive while the Rathcormack side must now face a tricky second round clash with Ballinhassig to stay in the championship.
Scorers for St. Finbarr’s:K. Murray (frees), C. McCarthy (0-1 free), M. Ryan 0-2 each; J. Neville, R. O’Mahony, R. Curran (free), S. Nott, J. Crowley 0-1 each.
Bride Rovers:J. O’Driscoll 0-6 (0-5 frees, 0-1 65); C. O’Keeffe 0-2; R. Cahill 0-1.
F. O’Mahony; R. McCarthy, E. Burke, E. Keane; J. Neville, R. Curran, G. O’Connor; A. Cronin, B. O’Driscoll; J. Crowley, M. Ryan, S. Nott; R. O’Mahony, K. Murray, C. McCarthy.
Subs: A. Fitzpatrick for Murray; G. McCarthy for Nott; P. Cronin for O’Driscoll.
D. Fitzgerald; A. Collins, B. Walsh, T. Moloney; Barry Murphy, Brian Murphy, J. Murphy; P. Murphy, B. Johnson; P. Walsh, R. Cahill, J. O’Driscoll; D. Ryan, M. Collins, C. O’Keeffe.
Sub: M. Kearney for Walsh.
J. Sexton (Ballyhea).