After a slow start, Newtown chalked up a nice tally of scores — all but one point coming from play and nine different players finding the target – but not until Cathal Naughton’s 27th minute goal did Killeagh’s stubborn resistance finally wilt and the winners were on their way to a quarter-final meeting with Sarsfields.
And Newtown boss John Lenihan was pleased afterwards. “Yes, we got a good test from Killeagh, particularly in the opening half, but you’d expect that. Every team is out to take a scalp, and we’re a big scalp. Our backs were under pressure at times in the first-half, but we have some excellent players who are well able to respond.
“At times you would not have thought we had players on the pitch with four championship medals but there’s great character in this team and they showed it when they needed to.We are now where we want to be — in the next round. We know games get harder as you advance, but we’ll be ready. It’s just one game at a time with us.”
There was some excellent free flowing hurling on show, Killeagh making the better start with two quick Andy Walsh points. And with Philip O’Neill making his presence felt at midfield and Walsh and Brendan Barry hurling well in the half forward line, Killeagh looked well up for the contest.
Newtown, on the other hand, were slow to settle. Points from Ryan Clifford and PJ Copse did keep them ticking, but with Joe Deane as slick as ever for Killeagh at left corner-forward, scoring two fine points, the sides were level after the opening quarter at 0-5 apiece.
It was point for point in the second quarter, Deane and Jamie Coughlan exchanging class scores. But then wing forward John Paul King ignited Newtown, driving over two smashing points in the 23rd and 24th minutes, just after Coughlan had given his side the lead for the first time.
There was even better to follow as Newtown’s slick hurling tore the Killeagh defence to shreds in the final five minutes of the half. Leading 0-10 to 0-9, Newtown suddenly upped a gear. A blistering run by Naughton opened up the Killeagh defence and although goalkeeper Bernard Rochford saved his initial effort, the wing forward hammered home the rebound. That strike was really the turning point and put Newtown in the driving seat.
Two more points from Jerry O’Connor, now beginning to buzz, and one from Clifford flattened Killeagh, who suddenly found themselves trailing 1-13 to 0-10 at the break despite a decent 30 minutes effort. And it took a fine save by Bernard Rochford to deny Coughlan a second Newtown goal.
The north Cork men were on song in the second-half and played their short passing game almost to perfection. With Naughton now partnering Ben O’Connor at midfield they were swashbuckling at times, adding 1-9 to their tally, yet sloppy on the radar shooting 11 wides. True they were outscored three points to two in the third quarter, as Killeagh fought tooth and nail to stay in the contest, but another super 44th minute point from the now roving Coughlan seemed to lift Newtown and even the loss of talisman Pat Mulcahy through injury failed to upset their rhythm.
Leading 1-16 to 0-13 entering the final quarter, the scores began to come at a rate of knots. Coughlan and sub Mattie Ryan, in for Mulcahy, fired over terrific long range points for Newtown, Eoghan O’Loughlin and Deane replying for Killeagh. But Newtown were comfortable and well in control.
Then a huge dust-up ensued involving most players on the pitch which held up the game for more then five minutes. Amazingly, referee Conor Lane didn’t flash a single red card, just four yellows, and when the game resumed Michael Bowles fired over Newtown’s 22nd point.
Goalkeeper Rochford had a 21 yard free saved at the other end as Killeagh battled for a goal. Instead, however, a second arrived at the other end, substitute Donagh Stack setting up Michael Bowles, to round off a very competent Newtown performance.
Scorers for Newtownshsndrum: C. Naughton 1-2, J. Coughlan 0-5, J P King 0-4, M. Bowles 1-1 each, J. O’Connor and R. Clifford 0-3 each, B. O’Connor 0-2 (0-1 free), P J Copse, M. Ryan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Killeagh: J. Deane 0-7 (0-3 frees), A. Walsh 0-3 (0-1 free), S. Long and B Barry 0-2 each, E. O’Loughlin and D. Walsh 0-1 each.
NEWTOWNSHANDRUM: W. Biggane; G. O’Mahony, B. Mulcahy, D. Gleeson; J. Herlihy, P. Mulcahy, P. Noonan; PJ Copse, B. O’Connor; C. Naughton, J. O’Connor, J P King; R. Clifford, J. Coughlan, M. Bowles.
Subs: J. Bowles for Herlihy (ht), M. Ryan for P. Mulcahy (34), D. Stack for Clifford (60).
KILLEAGH: B. Rochford; P. McCarthy, C. Fogarty, P. McGrath; B. Collins, K. Lane, C. Fogarty; L. Collins, P. O’Neill; B. Barry, A. Keniry, A. Walsh; E. O’Loughlin, S. Long, J. Deane.
Subs: J. Fitzgerald for Collins (38), S. Murphy for Keniry (47), D. Walsh for A. Walsh (52), D. Cahill or Long (56).
Referee: C. Lane (Banteer).