Avondhu’s late scoring burst that yielded 2-5 in the closing 10 minutes helped claw back Imokilly’s advantage, yet the stark truth was that the East Cork men had wrapped and sealed their win by half-time.
Imokilly won all the major duels. Their defence was steadfast, possessing a brilliant half-back trio of Martin Hickey, Noel O’Riordan and Sean O’Leary. Watergrasshill duo Paddy O’Regan and Pat O’Brien shaped the game from midfield, while Brendan Ring clipped over nice points in attack. Yet the real gem in Imokilly’s possession was Leigh Desmond, the Youghal forward unleashing a sensational 2-8 scoring blitz on the Avondhu backline over the hour.
Imokilly conceded the first blow when Jonathan O’Callaghan converted a free but after that the scoring traffic travelled in only one direction. Desmond pounced for a third minute goal and from thereon they started to rifle over a series of points.
Desmond’s free-taking was laser-accurate, while Eddie Enright and O’Regan knocked over splendid scores from distance. By the 24th minute they were 1-8 to 0-3 ahead before moving out of sight when Desmond finished a long pass by Sean O’Leary to the net, despite Kieran Walsh’s efforts to steer the ball off the line. Desmond fired over another three points before the break, Ring tacked on another and even corner-back Liam Greaney got in on the scoring act.
The match was a done deal at the break with Avondhu staring at a 15-point deficit – 2-13 to 0-4 – as they struggled to gain a foothold in the game. Shorn of the Ballyhea contingent and having Kieran Walsh as the sole Kilworth representative hampered their hopes, but they at least battled manfully throughout the second half. Castletownroche forward Jonathan O’Callaghan knocked over a few early frees but Imokilly got going again before the three-quarter mark.
Substitute Stephen O’Keeffe provided great energy around the middle while Ronan Spillane and Ring found the range with points. By the 49th minute they constructed a formidable 2-16 to 0-8 advantage and the match was set to peter out to its predictable outcome. The closing plays were at least made interesting by Avondhu’s late scoring charge. O’Callaghan smashed a 54th minute close-range free to the net and wing-forward Daniel O’Flynn fired over two points.
Centre-back Brian O’Sullivan scored a memorable point from distance and Oliver Hanlon grabbed another but efforts by Brian Lawton and Ring cancelled those out. Avondhu kept coming and O’Callaghan registered 1-1 from placed balls at the death. But it was never going to impinge on the end result as Imokilly marched on strongly.
Scorers for Imokilly: L Desmond 2-8 (0-5f, 0-1 ‘65), B Ring 0-4, P O’Regan 0-2, P O’Brien, E Enright, L Greaney, B Lawton, R Spillane 0-1 each.
Avondhu: J O’Callaghan 2-7 (2-4f, 0-1 ‘65), D O’Flynn 0-2, M Gammell, P Gammell, B O’Sullivan, O Hanlon 0-1 each.
IMOKILLY: C Cronin (Lisgoold); L Greaney (Cobh), M Galvin (Aghada), B Murphy (Fr O’Neills); M Hickey (Carrignavar), N O’Riordan (Watergrasshill), S O’Leary (Watergrasshill); P O’Regan (Watergrasshill), P O’Brien (Watergrasshill; P Butler (Fr O’Neills), E Enright (Watergrasshill), B Lawton (Castlemartyr); B Ring (Youghal), L Desmond (Youghal), R Spillane (Carrignavar).
Subs: S O’Keeffe (Aghada) for Butler (41), B Smiddy (Castlemartyr) for Hickey (55), T O’Keeffe (Aghada) for Enright (55), P Murphy (Carrignavar) for Spillane (58).
AVONDHU: K Walsh (Kilworth); D Coughlan (Mallow), R Relihan (Castletownroche), D Relihan (Castletownroche); K Curtain (Churchtown), B O’Sullivan (Fermoy), D Fitzgerald (Charleville); M Burke (Shanballymore), J Shaughnessy (Dromina); D Moher (Ballygiblin), P Gammell (Charleville), D O’Flynn (Charleville); J O’Callaghan (Castletownroche), M Gammell (Charleville), J Murphy (Clyda Rovers).
Subs: O Hanlon (Clyda Rovers) for Burke (37), K Duggan (Ballygiblin) for Shaughnessy (37), M O’Callaghan (Castletownroche) for Murphy (55), K O’Gorman (Ballygiblin) for Curtin (55).
Referee: Peter Downey (Inniscarra).