That’s how Bride Rovers goalkeeper and captain Denis Fitzgerald described yesterday’s Cork SHC round two win in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
“For the last couple of years we’ve been struggling against relegation — we’d had enough of it. We hurled with our hearts today, brilliant to get the win. You couldn’t fault anyone, every one of the 15 who started gave their all and so did the subs. They hooked, they harried — that’s what we’re all about, that’s what Bride Rovers are about, work-rate.”
And that’s why they won, greater work-rate than a disappointing Ballinhassig.
“There was a lot of pressure on both Ballinhassig and ourselves today,” said Rovers manager Pat Barry, “But in fairness to our lads, they didn’t play like that pressure was there.
“We were disappointed with the way we played in the first half against Carrigtwohill [first round loss]. We knew this performance was in us; we played Ballymartle in a league match recently, gave a fantastic first-half performance. We knew there was something there, but it was a case of producing it.”
Produce they did, as fine a performance as Bride Rovers have produced in a few years. The defence featured Barry Murphy at full-back, his more renowned brother Brian at No 6 (suffered a late injury which will keep him out of the Munster final); they proved a strong spine, the platform from which came this win.
Youngster Jason Pratt joined Michael Kearney in midfield, while up front Barry Johnson did as he has done so often for Rovers, converted every free conceded by the under-pressure Ballinhassig defence, seven from seven from placed balls.
The real star of the show for the Rathcormac side though, was mercurial full-forward Daniel Dooley. Half a dozen clean catches, two points scored, several frees won, and non-stop work-rate for the full 70 minutes – a veritable tour de force, said captain Fitzgerald.
“Daniel had a mighty game. He’s one of the finest hurlers you’ll see, can twist it on the hurley all day and he proved it again today what he can do.”
Ballinhassig won the toss and captain Darren Dineen opted to play into the strong wind. Bride Rovers took full advantage, raced into a 0-4 to no score lead after just eight minutes, Dooley with a brace, Jason Mannix (another youngster) and Johnson with the other scores. By half time, and with Ballinhassig really struggling to make any impression, that lead had grown to six, 0-10 to 0-4.
The change of ends brought an almost immediate change of fortune for Ballinhassig, however, three points in three minutes halving the deficit — Michael Collins, Diarmuid O’Sullivan and Darren Dineen the scorers.
“We were under pressure,” admitted manager Barry, “but we had spoken about that at the break. It nearly always happens in matches that where you’re ahead at half time the other team will come out and throw a difficult 15 minutes at you. You just have to ride out that challenge, wear them down then kick on from there.”
That’s exactly what Rovers did. With Barry Johnson now in midfield — an inspired move — and with the defence again getting on top, it was the East Cork side finishing strongest, a goal in the 39th minute from Seán Ryan (did sterling hold-up work in the full-forward line in this half) setting them on their way, the unerring Johnson with three points from long-range frees, Michael Kearney with the final point.
“Oh, the relief of being in the next round, unbelievable,” said Pat Barry. “We can hurl away now without having to look over the shoulder.”
Scorers for Bride Rovers: B Johnson 0-8 (7f); S Ryan 1-1; D Dooley 0-2; J Mannix, M Kearney, J Pratt 0-1 each.
Scorers for Ballinhassig: D Dineen 0-4 (2f, 1 65); D Duggan 0-3; M Collins 0-2; S McCarthy, D O’Sullivan 0-1 each.
BRIDE ROVERS: D Fitzgerald (c); A Collins, Barry Murphy, S Kearney; K Collins, Brian Murphy, B Walsh; M Kearney, J Pratt; S Ryan, B O’Driscoll, B Johnson; J Mannix, D Dooley, C O’Connor.
Subs: T Broderick for C O’Connor (47); J O’Driscoll for B O’Driscoll (58), P Walsh for B Murphy (inj, 60).
BALLINHASSIG: M Coleman; S McCarthy, E Finn, M Desmond; B O’Sullivan, M Aherne, B Coleman; S McCarthy, D O’Sullivan; D Dineen (c), B Lombard, S Dineen; M Collins, D Duggan, D O’Sullivan.
Subs: D O’Donovan for M Aherne (inj, 2), D Brennan for D O’Sullivan (41), P O’Sullivan for S McCarthy (53). Blood sub: P Cooney for S Dineen (23-25).
Referee: C Lyons (Nemo Rangers).