Piarsaigh’s early scoring blast burns off Blarney

IT was a routine journey to success for Na Piarsaigh in yesterday’s Evening Echo Cork SHC first round tie at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

The city team established superiority early on, a blistering opening scoring drive propelling them into a commanding lead. By the interval they were nine points clear after benefiting from a strong breeze, and their passage to the third round never looked in jeopardy in the second-half.

The Piarsaigh defence was an impregnable unit, with their determined captain Mark Prendergast anchoring it at full-back and youngster Eoin Moynihan shining alongside him. Outside John Gardiner cleaned up in the aerial battles at centre-back and when presented with long-range placed ball point opportunities he arrowed four shots between the posts.

There was a great energy and work rate to Piarsaigh’s hurling as well, best epitomised by the dynamic Ronan McGregor at midfield and centre-forward Stephen Glasgow. Pádraig Gould also pitched in with a hefty 0-6 haul.

Injury robbed Na Piarsaigh of the presence of one O hAilpín in defence, but that loss was compensated in attack. Sean Óg was restricted to a sideline view but Aisake, back from his Aussie Rules days, made a serious impact at full-forward. There were snapshots throughout the first-half that illuminated his potential threat, as he caused discomfort for the Blarney backline in creating James Egan’s 8th minute goal and finishing to the net himself in the 28th minute.

Blarney battled admirably, with Darragh McSweeney strong in defence, Joe Jordan hurling a world of ball at wing-back and John Hurley giving a fine display of marksmanship up front. Their major glitch was in front of goal with only Hurley making incisions from open play and they hit a few good second-half point chances wide of goal.

Na Piarsaigh’s first goal prompted the scoring dam to burst. A McGregor sideline ball was caught by Aisake and he transferred to Egan whose shot just crept over the line. That put Na Piarsaigh 1-1 to 0-1 ahead and they kicked on with Gardiner, Gould, Stephen P O’Sullivan and Glasgow all helping to construct a point scoring spree. By the 20th minute they were 1-7 to 0-2 ahead. It got better in the 28th minute when an O’Sullivan point effort bounced off the post and the alert Aisake smashed the rebound to the net. Blarney retrieved two late points through Brian Deasy and Hurley, but still faced an ominous 2-9 to 0-4 deficit at the break.

Two rapid points after the break by Gould and Aisake illustrated Piarsaigh’s intention to maintain high standards, but despite being 11 points in arrears, Blarney stitched together a super scoring response. Eoin Hallahan, Hurley (2) and a Colin Murphy free trimmed it back to 2-9 to 0-8. Then the Mid-Cork men created a real goal opening in the 42nd minute, but Murphy’s strike was expertly hooked by Moynihan.

From there Na Piarsaigh reaffirmed their dominance. Gardiner and Gould converted two points apiece, and McGregor registered the point that his hard work deserved.

By the 58th minute they had steamed 2-14 to 0-9 in front but Blarney got a late lift when a high ball in from the wing by Hurley was touched to the net by substitute Ross McNamara.

Blarney must now ready themselves for a backdoor battle with Glen Rovers.

Scorers for Na Piarsaigh: P Gould 0-6 (0-4f), J Gardiner 0-4 (0-3 ‘65, 0-1f), A O’hAilpín 1-1, J Egan 1-0, S Glasgow, SP O’Sullivan, R McGregor 0-1 each.

Blarney: J Hurley 0-4, R McNamara 1-0, M Cremin 0-2 (0-1f, 0-1 ‘65), B Deasy, E Hallahan, C Murphy (0-1f) 0-1 each.

NA PIARSAIGH: M O’Sullivan; E Moynihan, M Prendergast, D Mannix; D Gardiner, J Gardiner, M White; R McGregor, A Brady; P Gould, S Glasgow, T O’hAilpín; SP O’Sullivan, A O’hAilpín, J Egan. Subs: I McDonald for Glasgow (inj) (45).

BLARNEY: R Byrne; D McSweeney, P O’Leary, G Donovan; J Jordan, J Hughes, S O’Donoghue; M McCarthy, B Hurley; M Cremin, B Deasy, J Hurley; E Hallahan, P O’Sullivan, C Murphy. Subs: J Barrett for B Hurley (half-time), J O’Sullivan for O’Sullivan (40), R McNamara for McCarthy (50).

Referee: Cathal McAlistair (Aghada)

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