When four points in seven minutes from Daniel O’Donovan and Brian O’Callaghan (three) put Bishopstown in the lead for the first time (0-7 to 0-6) it looked as if they would push on and punish their West Cork opponents for some sloppy finishing during their periods of dominance.
Straight after O’Callaghan’s lead point, David Hickey might have extended the advantage but his shot was waved wide despite Town protests. Crucially they would score just once more as Ilen found their range again.
The introduction of the evergreen Kieran Daly – first at full-forward and then as a ball-carrier from deep – was invaluable. After Kevin O’Sullivan had levelled, he and Daly were involved in both of the points that put them 0-9 to 0-7 ahead, with Peadar O’Driscoll and Danny O’Donovan getting the scores.
Though Sam Oakes pulled one point back for Bishopstown, it was as close as they came, and the relief was evident from O’Sullivan after.
“Last year, we only scraped past Na Piarsaigh in the third round,” he said, “and we have a few lads heading away so we’d have been put to the pin of our collar if we had lost.
“From the county final six years ago there are only about four or five left, but we have a lot of young lads coming up who have played for Cork underage. We knew it’d be a tough game and we were being written off but I suppose we’re used to that now.
“We had a lot of wides, but the conditions were difficult, the wind was swirling. Obviously you’re happy to be getting the chances and we probably weren’t clinical enough in the second half but we did enough.”
The game never truly came to life, with the slow opening setting the tone as the sides shared four points in the opening 19 minutes. Cian O’Driscoll wasted a good goal chance for Ilen in that spell but too often their build-up play allowed Bishopstown to funnel players back forcing their opponents to kick from distance. When Ilen went direct, Conor Dorman led the Bishopstown defensive effort against them.
Ilen’s Michael Hellen and John McLoughlin of Bishopstown were spare men but ended up marking each other more often than not. Hellen put Ilen 0-3 to 0-2 in front before Cian O’Driscoll followed that up. However, Denis Crowley almost goaled for Bishopstown but was denied by goalkeeper Daniel Hickey and then the post before Michael McCarthy cleared.
O’Callaghan’s point left just a score in it at half-time, but while Mac Eoin nailed two frees early in the second half to make it 0-6 to 0-3 for Ilen, Bishopstown then enjoyed their best period to seize the lead. Daly’s entry steadied Ilen again, however, and Bishopstown’s shooting deserted them. Crowley might have had a chance when he claimed the loose ball after Dorman’s point effort hit the post but he was crowded out.
Daniel O’Donovan had a late chance to tie the game from a free out on the right but he failed the convert and Bishopstown must now negotiate a second-round tie with Dohenys.
Scorers for Ilen Rovers: D Mac Eoin 0-4 (0-3 frees, 0-1 ‘45’), K O’Sullivan 0-2 (0-1 free), P O’Driscoll, D O’Donovan, M Hellen 0-1 each.
Scorers for Bishopstown: B O’Callaghan 0-4 (0-2 frees), D O’Donovan 0-2 (0-1 free), S Oakes, D Hickey 0-1 each.
ILEN ROVERS: D Hickey; M McCarthy, P Minihane, A Coughlan; Cian O’Driscoll, T O’Regan, D O’Donovan; P O’Driscoll, Conor O’Driscoll; J Bushe, B O’Sullivan, K O’Sullivan; D Mac Eoin, A Holland, M Hellen.
Subs: K Daly for B O’Sullivan (37), A Hassett for Minihane (46).
BISHOPSTOWN: K O’Halloran; J McLoughlin, E Byrne, I Jones, M Power, C Dorman, N O’Donovan; A O’Connor, D O’Donovan; F Ó Deasúnaigh, S Oakes, J O’Sullivan; B O’Callaghan, D Crowley, D Hickey.
Subs: P Honohan for McLoughlin (43), J McSweeney for Hickey (49), E Costelloe for O’Sullivan (50).
Referee: J Ryan (Macroom).