Last year, it took just two games, against the same opposition, as they received a bye to the quarter-finals and beat their first-round opponents, Valley Rovers, again. This time, it has been more circuitous, with early defeats to Bandon and Tracton putting them in a tough spot, but the response since then has been impressive.
Wins against Ballincollig and Blarney steeled them, and Saturday’s performance was their most polished to date, once they got to grips with proceedings. Having trailed by 0-5 to 0-2 early on, the free-taking of Dan O’Connell helped them to tie at 0-8 each by half-time, and though Kilworth’s Ned O’Brien opened the second-half scoring for Kilworth, it was the last time they led.
Four points in a row in the space of seven minutes gave Inniscarra a cushion as they finally pushed clear, O’Connell, Jonathan Olden and Colm Casey shining as Timmy Murphy and Seán O’Donoghue’s fine midfield play was rewarded. While Kilworth did manage to draw level again, it was their final assault and Inniscarra pulled clear in the closing stages.
Manager Liam Linehan was pleased his side showed enough composure to keep at the task in hand even when things were going against them.
“It took us a bit to get going, we were a bit over them but we weren’t putting it on the board,” he said.
“The period at the start of half-time put us on the forward foot, we needed that. Up to then our decision-making wasn’t great and lads were getting frustrated but we stuck at it and all year we’ve been getting stronger in the second half.
“The lads in midfield shone at different times, Seán’s only 17 and Timmy popped up with some great scores near the end, when they were really needed.”
Against the swirly wind for the most of the first half, Inniscarra withdrew Liam Ó Riain from attack to a sweeping role. While he did well on the ball, using it effectively, they couldn’t always make headway.
Noel McNamara was really on form for Kilworth in attack, and though Adrian Mannix was not getting much change from John O’Callaghan, the North Cork side had enough about them to lead by 0-6 to 0-3 at the end of the first quarter.
Gradually, Inniscarra began to compete more, and a point from Murphy and two O’Connell frees had them level, a situation that still pertained at the break.
When Inniscarra did so well in the opening 10 minutes of the second period, a passage to the last four again appeared to be a formality but last year’s IHC winners ensured that it would not be a procession.
Mannix (two) and McNamara had them level at 0-12 each by the 44th minute, but the effort to restore parity again was such that they found it difficult to keep pace with Inniscarra from there on.
Subs Tomás O’Connor and Seán O’Callaghan gave the mid-Cork side an extra attacking dimension and Murphy really came to the fore at midfield.
Casey and Jonathan Olden were on song by now as well for Inniscarra and while Mannix did his best to keep Kilworth in touch, they came up that bit short. Youghal or a rematch with Tracton in the semi-final is next on the agenda for Inniscarra, and such is their form now, they won’t fear anybody.
Scorers for Inniscarra: D O’Connell (0-6, 4fs, 1 65), C Casey (0-4), T Murphy (0-3), J Olden, T O’Connor (0-2 each), C Buckley, S O’Callaghan, S O’Donoghue (0-1 each).
Scorers for Kilworth: A Mannix (0-7, 5fs), N McNamara (0-5), B Tobin, N O’Brien (0-2 each).
INNISCARRA: J O’Keeffe; J O’Callaghan, K Burke, J O’Brien; F Olden, S Olden, T O’Regan; T Murphy, S O’Donoghue; C Buckley, J Olden, L Ó Riain; A Sheehan, C Casey, D O’Connell.
Subs: T O’Connor for Buckley (38), S O’Callaghan for J Olden (52, injured).
KILWORTH: K Walsh; M McNamara, W Twomey, A O’Hara; N Byrne, K Lane, M O’Connor; D Cahill, D McNamara; L Whelan, B Tobin, W Condon; N McNamara, N O’Brien, A Mannix.
Subs: J McCarthy for Cahill (ht), P Moakley for D McNamara (41), M Wade for O’Brien (49).
Referee: Cathal McAllister (Aghada).