Sexton’s strike fires Kilbrittain to victory

HE has formed a reputation as a football defender of note during his career but it was on the hurling stage where Owen Sexton was the hero in yesterday’s Evening Echo Cork IHC semi-final in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

After an absorbing tie, Kilbrittain and Kilworth were deadlocked for the seventh time at 0-16 apiece and as the match entered injury-time, there appeared to be favourable prospects of a replay. But in the dying embers of the clash Sexton combined with substitute Cian Hickey on the left wing and launched over a brilliant point from 40 yards. Kilworth mounted a couple of desperate late attacks but the Kilbrittain defence, that contained outstanding performers in Damien Desmond and Darren Hickey, scrambled successfully to clear their lines and set up a final date against Ballygarvan in a fortnight.

The win was hugely satisfying for Kilbrittain as they overcame a lethargic opening and defeated a Kilworth team who entered the game with strong credentials after contesting last year’s final and producing stirring recent victories. Kilbrittain trailed 0-5 to 0-1 after eight minutes but had recovered to be on level terms by the interval. Wing-forward Maurice Sexton supplied the inspiration in the first half, striking some timely points from play and frees.

In the second half centre-back Ross Cashman grew in stature as the game progressed, in terms of his contribution from open play and on the scoreboard, as he bombed over a few points from mammoth distances. Cork minor Jamie Wall produced a sparkling second-half performance as well and the 0-5 return he wound up with demonstrated his impressive point-taking.

Kilworth contributed greatly to the riveting fare yet were left numb at the final whistle. Their blistering opening to the game placed them in a promising position and star man Adrian Mannix was playing some sublime hurling. Mannix wound up with a hefty haul of 0-11 and his input was supplemented by sound defensive showings by Will Twomey and Mark O’Connor. Yet Kilworth suffered from over-reliance on Mannix for scores as the rest of their attack were swallowed up by the Kilbrittain rearguard.

A 0-6 to 0-3 lead after the opening quarter was a vivid illustration of Kilworth’s dominance, with Mannix hitting five of their points. Their tactic of peppering the Kilbrittain defence with long balls nearly yielded a couple of goals and there were a few anxious moments for the West Cork men as the ball skittered around Robert Hayes’s goalmouth. Gradually matters improved for Kilbrittain with Sexton spearheading their drive and a couple of splendid points by Wall helped them to be tied at 0-9 apiece at the break.

Kilbrittain made the early running in the second half with a brace of points by Cashman but then Kilworth hit a purple patch and rattled off four points on the trot. A Mannix free in the 40th minute pushed them 0-13 to 0-11 in front. Kilbrittain powered back into contention and looked to be handed a lifeline when they were awarded a 46th minute penalty after Alan Hayes was fouled. But Cashman’s blast was saved on the line by Paudie Lynch and with a 0-14 to 0-12 lead with 10 minutes remaining, Kilworth appeared to have the upper hand. Yet in a frenetic finish Wall and Cashman supplied the goods for Kilbrittain before Owen Sexton landed the winner at the death.

Scorers for Kilbrittain: M Sexton 0-6 (four frees); R Cashman (three frees), J Wall (one free) 0-5 each; O Sexton 0-1.

Kilworth: A Mannix 0-11 (six frees, one ‘65); P Lynch 0-2 (one free); D McNamara, M O’Connor, J Cahill 0-1 each.

KILBRITTAIN: R Hayes; P Ryan, J Murphy, Damien Desmond; J Deasy, R Cashman, D Hickey; C O’Leary, V O’Brien; O Sexton, A Hayes, M Sexton; J Wall, T Harrington, David Desmond.

Subs: J O’Brien for O’Leary (half-time), M Deasy for Ryan (43), C Hickey for David Desmond (51), C O’Brien for Harrington (58).

KILWORTH: K Walsh; A Kenny, K Lane, A O’Hara; M O’Connor, W Twomey, M McNamara; D Cahill, L Whelan; D McNamara, A Mannix, D O’Donoghue; J Cahill, P Lynch, W Condon.

Subs: N McNamara for D McNamara (35), B Tobin for O’Donoghue (52).

Referee: James Dorgan (Nemo Rangers).

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