Ballinacourty, who lost out to Nemo Rangers in last season’s Munster Club final, laid their victory foundations in an opening half when they all but ran riot against an outclassed opposition. Goals by Mark Fives, Mark Ferncombe, and James O’Mahony in a seven minute spell gave them an unassailable 3-7 to 0-2 interval lead, and they remained in cruise control right to the finish.
Tougher tests will undoubtedly come, but the defending champions look the team to beat.
The old adage that goals win games certainly held true when Ardmore and Ring met in a local derby at Bushy Park, with the seasiders garnering the spoils by a flattering four points, 4-5 to 1- 10.
Ring deservedly led by two, 1-4 to 1-2, at half-time, with Ardmore’s goal coming from a Brian Keane penalty on ten minutes and Cian Ó Conncubhair netting for Ring a quarter of an hour later. Three goals in the space of seven minutes on the restart however dramatically turned the game in Ardmore’s favour.
The first two were scored by county hurling stars Clinton Hennessy and Seamas Prendergast, with Kenny Murphy grabbing a very fortuitous third for which the Ring defence must take the blame. That gave Ardmore a clear seven-point advantage, 4-3 to 1-5, and a spirited Ring rally just fell short.
Their deserved win clinches Ardmore’s place in the last eight of the championship, and, despite the disappointment of defeat, Ring are in a play-off for a quarter-final place.
Safely into the quarter-finals are Clashmore on the strength of their impressive 1-9 to 0-10 victory over Rathgormack in a tight and sometimes fractious game at Leamybrien in which the winners’ teenage sensation, Brian O’Halloran, was the star of the show, finishing with seven points.
A spectacular goal by Cillian O’Keeffe in the 29th minute enabled Clashmore lead 1-5 to 0-3 at half-time, but a second half rally saw Rathgormack twice reduce the deficit to the minimum despite playing the final ten minutes a man short following the straight red card dismissal of John Kirwan.
Fittingly, O’Halloran sealed Clashmore’s victory with a superb point in the final seconds. For Rathgomack, champions four times in the 1990s, the defeat leaves them in a relegation battle to try and retain their senior status.
The surprise result of the weekend was St. Saviours’ 1-9 to 0-9 victory over Brickey Rangers at Kill, a win that also puts them into the last eight but leaves the Rangers in a play-off with Kilrossanty to decide which of them advances to that stage.
The decisive score of the game was John Paul Jacob’s goal four minutes after the restart, and it was fitting that Jacob was the goal scorer, as he was the winners’ most effective player.
In the remaining two games there were the expected victories for Nire over Gaultier (2-9 to 0-8) at Kilmacthomas and for Stradbally against John Mitchels (2-16 to 2-8) at Kill, putting both into the quarter finals.
A seven-point margin of defeat may have been a little harsh on Gaultier, but ultimately it was the goals scored by Liam Lawlor after 17 minutes and Michael Moore five minutes from time that saw the Nire safely to victory. As group winners they will now be one of the seeds in the quarter-final draw.
Stradbally justified their favourites’ tag against a John Mitchels outfit who were losing for the fourth time on the trot and now face a relegation battle after just one season in the top flight.