The Magpies, who were last champions in 1991, were solid without dominating in the first half, leading by 0-9 to 0-7 when Bride’s Barry Murphy was sent off in the 24th minute. Thereafter, their lively young forwards benefited from the extra time and space afforded them and had built up a nine-point lead when the Rathcormac side were reduced to 13 men as sub Pádraig Murphy was dismissed, like Murphy, for a second booking.
Conor Lehane was in fine form for Midleton, shooting nine points, four from play, feeding off the good play of Aidan Ryan at centre-forward. Ryan himself got three points and put in an impressive all-round performance.
His brother, Declan, at full-forward (despite wearing number 4) didn’t score but his presence allowed Luke O’Farrell, scorer of five points from play, Brian Hartnett and Paul Haughney to contribute.
In addition, captain Pádraig O’Shea, introduced as an early sub for Pádraig O’Keeffe, brought his influence to bear with some lovely touches.
With such a potent attack, it was no wonder Midleton ran up a big score, though manager Peter Smith did acknowledge the turn the game took when Murphy received his marching orders.
“We were looking at Bride Rovers’ stats,” he said, “and they rarely get beaten by much, so we were expecting a tough game.
“We got that but then after the sending-off things opened up for us, the lads did the job well. We’ll have a bit of a wait now before the quarter-final but we won’t mind, the main thing is that we’re there!”
Bride will feel disappointed as they were doing well when it was 15 against 15. Barry Johnson was operating almost like a quarterback, sitting deep and picking out passes as well providing long-range scores, and had four of their first seven points, midfielder Mike Kearney getting two.
Cork star Brian Murphy was a late addition to the side, having been doubtful beforehand as he recovers from a broken collarbone. He picked up Lehane first, went full-back when his brother was sent off, and then was deployed further upfield late on.
It will be a consolation to Cork, rather than Bride, that he came through unscathed, though there was one hairy moment late in the game when he needed treatment after shipping a heavy tackle from O’Shea.
After Barry Murphy was sent off, Aidan Ryan and Lehane added points for Midleton, though goalkeeper Denis Fitzgerald’s free for Bride left it 0-11 to 0-8 at half-time.
Though Lehane and Johnson exchanged points upon the resumption, six in-a-row for Midleton effectively ended the game as a contest, O’Farrell and Lehane with the pick of them as they worked the ball up the field effectively, wing-back Jamie Nagle doing well too.
They had moved 0-21 to 0-11 clear when goalkeeper Tommy Wallace was called on to deal with Dan Dooley’s effort, and almost immediately sub Patrick White goaled at the other end. Following Ryan’s run, White — with his first touch — did excellently to send the ball past Fitzgerald from a tight angle.
Bride’s Pádraig Murphy had been sent off by this stage too so the closing stages were an exercise in possession for Midleton, though Brendan O’Driscoll did get a late goal for the vanquished side.
They exit the championship, while Midleton advance to a meeting with Bishopstown or Carrigtwohill.
Scorers for Midleton: C Lehane 0-9 (four frees, one 65), L O’Farrell 0-5, A Ryan, B Hartnett (one free) 0-3 each, P White 1-0, P Haughney 0-2, P O’Shea, J Nagle 0-1 each.
Scorers for Bride Rovers: B Johnson 0-6 (four frees), B O’Driscoll 1-0, M Kearney 0-2, D Dooley, S Ryan, D Fitzgerald (f) 0-1 each.
MIDLETON: T Wallace; K Burke, P O’Mahony, D Ryan; S O’Farrell, F O’Mahony, J Nagle; P Dowling, P Haughney; B Hartnett, A Ryan, C Lehane; L O’Farrell, D Ryan, P O’Keeffe.
Subs: P O’Shea for O’Keeffe (2, injured), P White for D Ryan (51), E Mulcahy for Lehane (54), D Ryan for L O’Farrell (57).
BRIDE ROVERS: D Fitzgerald; D Carr, Barry Murphy, S Kearney; Brian Murphy, B Walsh, B Johnson; M Kearney, J Pratt; M Collins, B O’Driscoll, S Ryan; O Murphy, J Mannix, D Dooley.
Subs: A Collins for Kearney (4, injured), P Murphy for Ryan (21), C O’Connor for Collins (29-half-time, blood), O’Connor for Mannix (half-time), K Collins for O Murphy (52).
Referee: K Murphy (Nemo Rangers).