With their senior footballers in action in the last eight next Saturday, the club’s premier intermediate hurling side booked their semi-final berth here yet it was only after a stern examination of their credentials by Blarney, the 2008 champions in this competition.
Just like their fourth round success over Ballincollig, Newcestown had only a single point to spare after their encounter. And just like that previous match, they were indebted to the scoring heroics for Eoin Kelly in propelling them over the finishing line in first place. He struck 0-10 here, displaying relentless accuracy from placed balls and also making key contributions from open play. In a frenetic finale, it was his marvellous crossfield pass that created the opportunity for Barry Horgan to strike a vital 54th minute point that tied the game. Kelly then raised a brace of white flags that provided Newcestown with a sufficient cushion to withstand a late Blarney rally that only yielded a point from a free by Mark Cremin.
Newcestown showed resilience to chisel out this triumph. The match looked set to be slipping away from them as it entered the final 10 minutes. They had built on a strong first-half showing, where they lead 0-9 to 0-7 at the break, in the early stages of the second-half. By the 36th minute, they were had extended that advantage further to be 0-12 to 0-8 in front yet Blarney then began to boss proceedings.
It was a mixture of youth and experience that brought them back into contention. Wing-back James Hughes has been a key figure in their lineup for several seasons and here he married combative defending with outstanding long-range marksmanship. He notched 0-4 from play over the hour and was matched in the scoring department by exciting corner-forward Barra O’Connell, who was involved with the Cork minor squad this season.
Their efforts in striking points helped chip away at Newcestown’s lead but it was Eoin O’Connor’s 43rd minute goal that really ignited their comeback. After a well-judged cross by Jack O’Regan, O’Connor collected and engineered the space to strike low to the net past Newcestown goalkeeper Jim O’Sullivan. When Cremin smacked over a free in the 49th minute, Blarney were 1-12 to 0-12 in front and in a buoyant mood.
But Newcestown’s heads never dropped. They needed a score and they got a vital one in the 51st minute. Full-back John Crowley launched a long clearance downfield that was met at pace by Carthach Keane. He knifed through the Blarney rearguard and timed his offload well to Tadhg Twomey, who bundled a shot to the net.
It was a vital score and ultimately they deserved to progress as they were the more consistent force throughout the game. With defenders Niall O’Sullivan and Gerard O’Driscoll in good form, Blarney were unable to make much headway up front for long stages of the first-half. Apart from O’Connell, the Mid-Cork men did not really threaten and Newcestown were in a commanding position as they lead 0-8 to 0-4 approaching the interval. Midfielders Daniel Twomey and Gearoid O’Rourke edged their respective duels yet Blarney finished powerfully to claim three of the last four points of the first-half. But in the second-half it was Newcestown who kicked on near the end and finished with purpose to seal a semi-final meeting with Youghal.
Scorers for Newcestown: E Kelly 0-10 (0-5f, 0-2 ‘65), T Twomey 1-0, B Horgan, D Twomey, G O’Rourke, S Ryan, C Keane 0-1 each.
Scorers for Blarney: B O’Connell, M Cremin (0-4f), J Hughes 0-4 each, E O’Connor 1-1, R McNamara 0-1.
NEWCESTOWN: J O’Sullivan; D Heffernan, J Crowley, K Long; B Horgan, N O’Sullivan, G O’Driscoll; D Twomey, G O’Rourke; F Keane, T Twomey, H Curran; E Kelly, C Keane, S Ryan.
Subs: M Bradfield for Curran (43), O Keane for Long (48).
BLARNEY: R Byrne; J Barrett, D McSweeney, S Walsh; J Hughes, P O’Leary, J Jordan; B Hurley, C Murphy; J O’Regan, R McNamara, E O’Connor; B O’Connell, J Hurley, M Cremin.
Subs: E McCarthy for Murphy (45).
Referee: James Dorgan (Nemo Rangers).