As coach Paul Cronin lauded his charges for their resolve following the dismissal of defender Joe Lynch after 38 minutes for a second yellow card, he looked visibly enthused with the prospect of locking horns with the West Cork side again after losing to them last year.
For now he can be quite content with this victory over last season’s beaten finalists, who had Eric Hegarty in scintillating scoring form.
But while Hegarty led the scoring with six points, the city club didn’t really do enough to deserve victory and will look back with regret on the fact they scorned ten more scoring opportunities, eight of them in the first half.
Cronin rightly pointed out that goals effectively won this game and hailed the contribution of centre-forward Fiachra Lynch, who helped make the first and scored the second, both at crucial stages of the game.
“They showed massive heart out there, especially after the sending-off,” said Cronin. “We kept in there when we were down a man and when you have a player of Fiachra’s ability you always have a chance and that happened. We will enjoy this but we have Kiskeam in two weeks’ time and it’s just great to be still in the championship. Hopefully we will have learned from last year.”
St Michael’s made the early running with a brace of points from Paul Cronin but John Cottrell’s goal after five minutes settled the victors, the corner-forward streaking though after a pass from Lynch. Hegarty levelled quickly but points from Eoin Fallon (two) and Darragh Murphy had Valley Rovers a goal to the good at the midway point of the half.
They were unable to maintain that position though and Hegarty (two) as well as Michael Mulconry hit back with points, although Cot trell’s first point allowed his side enjoy a slim half-time advantage, 1-4 to 0-6.
Despite the sending off, Valley Rovers clung on and turned into the last quarter on level terms before St Michael’s hit two points and threatened to pull away.
However, the Valleys’ resolve was firm and Hughie O’Donovan and Cottrell pointed before Lynch’s smashing goal, set up by the donkey work of Jack Murphy and Chris O’Donovan, after 56 minutes set the scene for a stirring victory.
They had to survive a goalmouth scramble immediately afterwards and Hegarty cut the deficit to two points with two minutes left, but St Michael’s were unable to provide their fans with a suitable finish and the Innishannon outfit held on.
Scorers for Valley Rovers: J Cottrell (1-2), F Lynch (1-1), E Fallon, H O’Donovan (0-2 each), D Murphy 0-1.
Scorers for St Michael’s: E Hegarty (0-6), P Cronin (0-4, 3fs), M Mulcahy, E Buckley (0-1 each).
VALLEY ROVERS: A Quirke; N O’Donovan, D Lynch, J Lynch; J Lyons, M Power, D Crowley; K Canty, C O’Donovan; H O’Donovan, D Murphy, E Fallon; J Cottrell, F Lynch, J Murphy.
Sub: E Delaney for Fallon (55, inj).
ST MICHAEL’S: B Kavanagh; C O’Shaughnessy, R Dineen, D Crowley; A Murphy, A O’Driscoll, A Nolan; S O’Keeffe, W Kennedy; P Cronin, M Mulconry, M Drummond; E Buckley, M Ryan, E Hegarty.
Sub: E O’Meara for Nolan (50, inj).
Referee: C Lane (Lyre).