Ballydesmond’s superior movement and work ethic ensured victory with the game decided by the accuracy of their inside line, O’Connor hitting 0-9 and former Kerry junior Fleming 1-2.
Ballydesmond dominated from the start with O’Connor landing a fine opening point from an acute angle. Supported by Jerry Healy and James Dunlea in defence and embellished by the workrate of Bertie O’Callaghan and Donal Kelly at midfield, it allowed a regular supply of cleverly targeted possession into the Ballydesmond attack.
The pressure brought reward in the 14th minute as Nicky O’Leary and O’Connor combined to set up Fleming for the game’s only goal and a seven point lead (1-4 to 0-0). That score kickstarted a Cill na Martra comeback and points from Máirtín Ó Conchúir and Caoimhín Ó hUidhir had them 1-7 to 0-4 adrift at the break.
Ballydesmond dictated matters on the turnover and a series of raids yielded points for O’Callaghan and O’Connor. However they were rocked when defender Tim Howard was send off for a second yellow.
With Nollaig Ó Laoire as the free man, along with good showing from Donal Óg Ó Laoire and Seán Ó Ceallachair, Cill na Martra began to battle back and Ó hUidhir and Caoimhín Ó Sulleabháin had points.
A sharper Ballydesmond always had the facility to respond, O’Connor completing a rewarding outing from placed balls. Late on, O’Leary was denied by a brilliant save from Fergal O’Sullivan. It summed up Cill na Martra’a night who look ahead to a back door qualifier against Glanmire to get their championship back on track.
Scorers for Ballydesmond: D O’Connor 0-9(0-7f), N Fleming 1-2, B O’Callaghan 0-1.
Scorers for Cill na Martra: C Ó hUidhir 0-6(0-4f), M O’Conchúir(f) and C Ó Suilleabháin 0-1 each.
BALLYDESMOND: F O’Sullivan; T Howard, J Healy, Denis Kelly; J Dunlea, C O’Keeffe, S Murphy; B O’Callaghan, Donal Kelly; Donal O’Connor, S Kelly, N O’Leary; Donncha O’Connor, N Fleming, C Kearney.
Subs: N O’Connor for O’Keeffe(54), A Fleming for Kearney(57), L S Murphy for O’Leary(58).
CILL NA MARTRA: A Ó Conaill; M Ó Goillidhe, C Ó Laoire, T Mac Suibhne; C Ó hEalaithe, N Ó Laoire, T Ó Duinín; S Ó Ceallachair, C MacSuibhne; C Ó hUidhir, C Ó Suilleabháin, Mairtín Ó Conchúir; Maidhcí Ó Duinín, D Ó Laoire, D Ó Conaill.
Sub: S Ó Loingsigh for Ó hÉalaihe(57).
Referee: J Bermingham (Bride Rovers).