Rockies edge closer to the abyss

CLOYNE are guaranteed senior hurling next season, while Blackrock are only 60 minutes away from the ghastly vista of dropping to the intermediate ranks.

That’s the upshot of Saturday’s Evening Echo Cork SHC third round clash in Páirc Uí Chaoimh which had major repercussions for both clubs. Cloyne availed of the clause that sees them navigate a route back into the championship with a fourth round tie against Newtownshandrum looming in Fermoy next Saturday.

Colm O’Sullivan was their match-winning hero with a 60th minute point and while he could well have grabbed a goal from that clear opening, the score was still critical as Cloyne sustained a late barrage of Blackrock pressure. The city side were a devastated bunch at the final whistle. They face the considerable task now of picking themselves up for a relegation decider which will determine their fate.

Both clubs have been accustomed over the past decade to contesting games at the business end of the championship but this was a clash with an altogether different dynamic. There was massive tension to this game and the quality of the play subsequently suffered. However the encounter remained exciting due to the tightness on the scoreboard with the sides level on nine occasions.

Regardless of the fare produced, Cloyne were greatly enthused at the final whistle. Their win owed greatly to a few stellar individual displays. The five O’Sullivan brothers all made important contributions with Paudie, Diarmuid and Colm supplying 11 points between them. Eoin was excellent anchoring the defence at full-back, with Brian Fleming also starring alongside him, while Donal was the pick of the bunch as he worked ferociously hard at midfield and was heavily involved in the play.

The first-half was an interesting affair with an extremely high rate of scoring. Cloyne made the brighter start to lead 0-5 to 0-2 by the 8th minute. Paudie O’Sullivan sparkled in this period as he skilfully notched a couple of points from play yet Blackrock defender Chris Murphy managed to stifle his threat for a time after that.

Blackrock’s play improved as the half wore on with Wayne Sherlock driving them on from his centre-back berth and he also landed an inspirational point from distance. Eoin O’Farrell was enhancing their midfield play as well while the experienced Brian O’Keeffe riled over a few sweet points. They lead 0-9 to 0-7 approaching the 30th minute but Cloyne pegged them back to parity by half-time and could have forged ahead, only for Colm O’Sullivan’s fierce drive flying over rather than under the bar.

In the second-half the scoring rates dried up significantly, yet the consistent accuracy of corner-forward David Cashman from placed balls was crucial for Blackrock. He converted a couple of tricky shots from the sideline and that enabled Blackrock to hold a 0-13 to 0-11 advantage in the final quarter. Alan Browne was introduced to bolster the Blackrock attack at full-forward for the second-half yet Eoin O’Sullivan contained his threat and Donal Óg Cusack’s typically solid handling ensured Cloyne were never in danger of conceding a goal.

At the other end Cloyne had the best chances to raise a green flag but Blackrock netminder Alan Long produced a pair of outstanding saves to repel the East Cork side. Still Cloyne kept battling on with Diarmuid and Paudie O’Sullivan conjuring up the points that brought them level with seven minutes left.

The finale generated some frantic action as both teams sought scores but Cloyne looked more capable of claiming the winning point and Colm O’Sullivan popped up with that priceless strike in the 60th minute.

Scorers for Cloyne: P O’Sullivan (0-6, 4f); Diarmuid O’Sullivan (0-3, 1f, 1 ‘65); C O’Sullivan (0-2); J Cotter, Donal O’Sullivan, L O’Driscoll (0-1 each).

Blackrock: D Cashman (0-4, 4f); B O’Keeffe (0-3); D O’Shea (0-2); C O’Leary, D Gosnell, M Russell (f), W Sherlock (0-1 each).

CLOYNE: D Óg Cusack; B Fleming, E O’Sullivan, B McCarthy; L O’Driscoll, K Cronin, M Lynch; Donal O’Sullivan, J Cotter; C O’Sullivan, Diarmuid O’Sullivan, J Lynch; P O’Sullivan, C Cusack, K O’Lomasney.

Subs: M Walsh for C Cusack (inj) (30), J Nyhan for J Lynch (ht), C Cusack for O’Lomasney (ht), D Jermyn for M Lynch (48), D Dineen for O’Driscoll (inj) (50).

BLACKROCK: A Long; A Hayes, F Ryan, C Murphy; G Norberg, W Sherlock, R Curtin; E O’Farrell, M Russell; C O’Leary, D O’Shea, D Gosnell; B O’Keeffe, D Cashman, P Deasy.

Subs: K Murphy for Curtin (inj, 28), A Browne for Deasy (ht), P Bennett for Russell (38), K O’Keeffe for Cashman (56), A Coughlan for O’Farrell (58).

Referee: Diarmuid Kirwan (Éire Óg).

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