Rovers have Rockies staring relegation threat

An historic day for a historic club in Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday evening as Courcey Rovers beat Blackrock 0-16 to 1-8 for their first ever Cork SHC.

On the other side it was another poor day for an even more historic club. Thirty two times champions Blackrock beaten for the second time in this year’s championship and now deep in relegation trouble, facing Cloyne in the next round.

“A brilliant feeling,” said manager Diarmuid Corcoran, “but to be honest I’d say we were on the back foot for all of the second-half.

“We popped up with one or two points to keep us in it. Five points in the second half, not a great return but we’re there, we’re safe for the rest of the year.”

The final 20 minutes of the first half was what did it for the South west side. Trailing three points to one after the opening ten minutes, having shot several poor wides, they found the range and a succession of unanswered points from Daire Lordan and captain Seamus Hayes with three each while the raiding wing-back David Murphy, midfielder Killian Moloney, Seán Lordan and Simon Holland added singles. It had them comfortably ahead at the break, 0-11 to 0-3.

Meanwhile a pair of second-half goals within the space of three minutes helped Avondhu to effect a seven-point turnaround and eliminate UCC, 3-15 to 0-20, from the Cork SHC at Fermoy on Saturday evening.

Trailing by 0-14 to 1-6 after UCC had started the second half with three points in a row, Avondhu found the net through Andrew Cagney and then Adrian Mannix to hit the front. UCC pushed the North Cork divisional side all the way for the remainder of the tie but couldn’t regain the lead.

Mannix finished with 1-6, shining especially in the second half; Maurice O’Sullivan weighed in with five points while half-backs Jerry Hayes and Tadhg Healy were impressing in holding off the late UCC charge.

Avondhu boss Johnny Keane admitted: “We were down three points at half-time and we didn’t deserve to be so. We said to them that they were a bunch of intermediate and junior hurlers but that they had great character. A lot of lads could have phoned up and said that they wouldn’t play, but they were magnificent.”

After an opening round Newtownshandrum heartbreaker a few short weeks ago, Killeagh were in no mood to squander a second Cork SHC chance in Castlemartyr on Saturday. They stuck to their task, were physical when needed and outplayed a lethargic Cloyne, 0-16 to 1-8, to put their name safely in the hat for the knock-out draw.

In truth, it wasn’t a great second round derby contest, but the pickings were rich and it was Killeagh, with Brendan Barry and Kieran Lane sublime in defence, Brian Collins superb at midfield and Joe Budds, Eoin O’Loughlin and Mark Landers in top form up front, who stepped up to the plate to send Cloyne crashing. And they can have no excuses.

Indeed Cloyne looked a pale shadow of teams of yore and were never able to penetrate a teak tough Killeagh defence, who all excelled, only scoring two points from play. They’ll have some soul searching to do now before they meet Blackrock in a last chance saloon game to stay in the championship.

That there was just a single score in it, 1-10 to 0-10, at the end of this bruising Cork SHC round two match between Na Piarsaigh and Bride Rovers in sunny Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday was testament to just how tough a side Rovers are to put away.

From the outset Na Piarsaigh looked by far the slicker side, the more likely winners, even more so after they had raced into an early 1-4 to 0-2 lead (16th minute), yet it took a goal-line stop from man of the match Christopher Joyce in the second minute of injury time to deny Rovers extra-time. The way the men from Rathcormac just keep on fighting, who knows what might have happened in those extra minutes?

As it is it’s the city side advancing to the fourth round of the 2012 championship, Bride Rovers facing the losers of Bishopstown and Glen Rovers in round three, their final championship lifeline.

Despite being 1-9 to 0-6 down in the 41st minute Bride Rovers regrouped and fought back winning the admiration of Na Piarsaigh manager Seán O’Brien.

“They’re an unbelievable side. How many teams have that kind of determination, that kind of attitude, that kind of spirit? They’re a tremendous club and regardless of who they’re meeting in the next round, I wish them the best of luck.”

The better side won in the end but boy, were they made to work for it! Defence, said Seanie was key.

“Christopher Joyce was superb but I thought our backs generally were outstanding [Seán Óg Ó hAilpín also shone]. Every player has to do his bit, especially against a team like Bride Rovers – that’s what we’re all striving towards.

“Some fellas played well, others didn’t and they know it, but everyone tried, that’s what’s important. It’s a 15-man effort and that’s what you need to get over the line; we did that tonight, just about! We just have to stop missing 1-7, 1-8, too many scores being missed, but that will come too.”

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