Collins on form as Valleys climb over The Hill

VALLEY ROVERS finished well to revitalise their Cork Premier IHC hopes by overcoming Watergrasshill in a third-round replay at Páirc Uí Rinn yesterday.

Having started well, they were forced to endure a good period from their opponents in the middle period of the first half, but never trailed after that and did enough to set up a meeting with Inniscarra in the next round.

Captain and wing-back Jeremy Hurley was his usual consistent self, tidying up well and contributing four fine frees, while Eamonn Collins accounted for 1-6 of his side’s total.

Sean O’Callaghan was the Hill’s best player and while John Halbert had flashes of brilliance, too often their attack did produce, especially in the closing stages.

While Valleys enjoyed an excellent start, pushing 1-2 to 0-1 ahead inside the first eight minutes, they then endured a scoreless period for twice as long, as Watergrasshill took control.

Collins had been responsible for all of that early haul, the goal a wonderful batted effort after a Chris O’Donovan clearance broke, but while O’Donovan and Fearghal Coughlan were doing well in defence, up front things were short-wiring, the wides tally mounting.

The Hill’s shooting was not exemplary either, but with O’Callaghan driving things from centre-back and Noel O’Riordan doing well on the wing, they managed to get six points without reply, and only a brilliant Willie Burke save denied John Halbert a goal in the 14th minute.

An excellent point from midfielder Ray O’Donovan lifted Valleys, however, and while O’Riordan answered that, three consecutive points put the Innishannon side in front again.

Then, in the second minute of injury time, things got even better for them in fortuitous fashion as Watergrasshill goalkeeper Aidan Foley looked to have gathered a Ray O’Donovan delivery only to lose possession, allowing Shane O’Sullivan to poke the loose ball in for a four-point interval deficit.

That gap had been wiped out by the time 10 second-half minutes had elapsed, however, John Halbert taking the fight to Valleys with a couple of good points, and O’Callaghan then levelled as he kicked home after Anthony Cronin’s sideline.

As further scores were exchanged, a repeat of last week looked likely, but with sub Richard Butler working hard in midfield for Valleys and corner-forward Eoin Manning doing well in a withdrawn role, they seized the momentum, aided by two huge frees from Hurley in the space of a minute.

Watergrasshill were finding scores far harder to come by now as Halbert’s influence was limited, and in contrast Valleys hared clear, Collins revelling in the space afforded by a two-man full-forward line while sub John Burke also got in on the act and Brian Lehane also impressed.

The Hill pushed late on but never looked like retrieving the game, and now must face Argideen Rangers to preserve their Premier status.

Scorers for Valley Rovers: E Collins 1-6 (0-3f), J Hurley 0-4f, S O’Sullivan 1-0, R Butler, J Burke, B Lehane 0-2 each, E Manning, R O’Donovan 0-1 each.

Scorers for Watergrasshill: S O’Callaghan 1-2, J Halbert 0-4 (0-2f), N O’Riordan 0-3, P O’Regan (0-1f), K Coakley 0-2 each, P Cronin 0-1.

VALLEY ROVERS: W Burke; C Lynch, N O’Donovan, F Coughlan; D Lynch, C O’Donovan, J Hurley; R O’Donovan, B Lehane; M O’Brien, E Collins, D Coughlan; E Manning, T Burke, S O’Sullivan.

Subs: R Butler for O’Brien (22), J Burke for T Burke (43), D Crowley for D Coughlan (50).

WATERGRASSHILL: A Foley; D McCarthy, E Enright, W O’Leary; G Hogan, E O’Reilly, P O’Regan; S O’Callaghan, A Cronin; P Cronin, J Halbert, N O’Riordan; J Foley, K Coakley, P Cahill.

Subs: S O’Regan for J Foley (50), M Barry for Hogan (53), W Connolly for Cahill (58).

Referee: P Downey (Inniscarra).

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