Old hands to the fore as Rockies power home

AN eager Blackrock side completely overwhelmed city rivals Douglas in this Cork SHC first-round game at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday evening.

Blackrock led 0-8 to 0-6 at the break (four points from placed-ball specialist David Cashman) but it would have been more had they been a little more composed in their shooting.

They made amends in the second-half, however, and 1-4 without reply after the break took the game well beyond the reach of a very tame and subdued Douglas side for whom only Mark Harrington (spasmodically) and Eoin Cadogan (second-half) emerged with reputations relatively unscathed.

Blackrock got massive performances from three stars of their last golden period (county champions in 1999, 2001 and 02), Wayne Sherlock and Fergal Ryan in total command in the full-back line, corner-forward Brian O’Keeffe with the vital goal at the other end. They also had immense performances from several members of the younger brigade, most notably wing-forward Eoin O’Farrell (three points from play), Brian’s younger brother Kevin in the other corner (four points) and impact substitute John Fitzgerald in the half-forward line, the latter two Cork minors this year.

Afterwards, amid scenes of great jubilation, there were words of consolation also for a distraught Fergal Ryan.

“It was really tough for Fergal today, his father-in-law passed away this morning,” said long-time comrade-in-arms Wayne Sherlock, “and to play the way he did was fantastic.

“He’s 39 years of age and during the week there was talk of Douglas targeting him, but we knew – the man is the heartbeat of the team for the last 20 years, and still is. Just to have played alongside him is something I’ll be able to tell my kids about. The man is an inspiration; he comes down to training and he gives us all a lift – you’d swear he was still only 20!”

Brian O’Keeffe was extolling the virtues of youth. “The young fellas make a huge difference, they bring the hunger. It was brilliant to play with my younger brother (Kevin), and to see the team introduce a few minors was a great boost. Johnny Fitzgerald made a big difference when he came on, won some vital ball at a vital stage in the game out in the half-forward line.”

Douglas still have another opportunity to progress of course, but they have only a week now to prepare for their do-or-die second-round game against Ballinhassig next Sunday – it will take a vast improvement on this display if they are to avoid the dreaded relegation battle.

Scorers for Blackrock: D Cashman 0-5 (0-3f, 0-1s/l); B O’Keeffe 1-1; K O’Keefe 0-4; E O’Farrell 0-3; C O’Leary 0-1.

Scorers for Douglas: R Murphy 0-3 (0-2f); M Harrington 0-2; S Moylan, O Mulrooney, M Collins, B Fitzgerald, 0-1 each.

BLACKROCK: A Long; W Sherlock, F Ryan, C Murphy (c); B Ahern, K Murphy, G Norberg; R Dineen, G Howard; E O’Farrell, D O’Shea, C O’Leary; B O’Keeffe; D Cashman, K O’Keeffe.

Subs: J Fitzgerald for O’Shea (inj. 50).

DOUGLAS: B Boyle; P Shine, A Barry, R Keating; J Collins, E Cadogan, C Lucey; B Fitzgerald, J Moylan, R Murphy; F Desmond, M Harrington, S Moylan.

Subs: A Cadogan for J Moylan (54).

Referee: C McAllister (Aghada).

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