Castlelyons show style and steel

Castlelyons 0-13 Newcestown 0-11

Handicapped by bad wides, the East Cork side went in at half-time trailing by 0-7 to 0-6, with frees from Colm Spillane key in keeping them in touch. Newcestown had played the smarter hurling, unlucky more than once not to get a goal and they seemed well set to finish the job in the second period.

They would go scoreless until Eoin Kelly’s 45th-minute point, however. In contrast, Castlelyons scored five unanswered points as they re-calibrated their shooting, with Colm Barry outstanding in midfield and corner-back Bryan Carroll executing some superb defending.

Cork panellist Spillane, who finished with six points, continued his good play and the cushion built up was enough to sustain them, to the delight of manager Con Lawlor.

“It was a game that could have gone either way, but in fairness to our lads they dug very deep,” he said.

“We were a little bit concerned with the shooting in the first half, we had eight wides, but we knew that we were getting on top. It was just about having belief and confidence in our forwards and fair play to them in the second half.

With this being a first game for both teams since their first-round victories at the beginning of June it was a slow starter with Hugh Curran and Eoin Kelly pushing Newcestown into a 0-6 to 0-3 lead.

Captain Daniel Twomey did well around the middle and youngster Micheál McSweeney was a model of efficiency at the back. Had Curran’s shot not hit the side-netting, or if Fionn Keane hadn’t been blocked by Carroll’s last-ditch tackle, the West Cork side would have been in a commanding position.

Castlelyons, despite the wasteful shooting, never allowed their opponents get out of sight and Barry Fitzgerald’s point, followed by a pair of Spillane frees, had them level before Twomey’s late 65 ensured Newcestown led at the break.

Upon the resumption, though, it was their turn to squander numerous opportunities, and not even a rejigging of their attack could change the flow of the early second-half exchanges. Spillane set the tone two minutes in with a great catch from a puckout, finished with a run and a point, and then Barry put them in front for the first time with a similar effort.

After Kelly missed a scorable free – not helped by a PA announcement as he was lining it up – Spillane’s brother Anthony left three in it, with Castlelyons’ half-back line of Cian O’Leary, Leo Sexton and McGann dominating proceedings.

The Colms, Spillane and Barry, each added another point and with a quarter of the game left Newcestown trailed by 0-11 to 0-7.

As so often done before, they didn’t go down without a battle, and two Kelly frees, sandwiching one by Twomey, had them back to within one.

With five minutes left, Castlelyons were given a great chance to close the game out as they won a penalty when Fitzgerald was fouled, but ref Mark Maher then changed the decision to a throw-in following retaliation.

Nevertheless, Michael Spillane pointed to put them two clear after a loose clearance but Kelly again reduced the margin. As Castlelyons passed up chances to secure the win, the expectation of extra time grew but Newcestown continued to be afflicted by shooting travails of their own.

When Castlelyons won a free on halfway in the 62nd minute, McGann stepped up and there was never any doubting where it was headed, leaving Newcestown needing a goal. Following a scuffle, after which Castlelyons’ Michael Spillane and Tadhg Twomey of Newcestown were sent off, Newcestown made one final effort as Ger O’Driscoll launched a free from deep, but it was fitting that Colm Barry gained possession as the whistle blew.

Castlelyons now await Kilbrittain or Watergrasshill in the last four.

Scorers for Castlelyons: C Spillane (0-6, 5fs), C Barry (0-2), C McGann (f), B Fitzgerald, A Spillane, A Fenton, M Spillane (0-1 each).

Scorers for Newcestown: E Kelly (0-6, 3fs), H Curran, D Twomey (both 65s) (0-2 each), C Keane (0-1).

CASTLELYONS: S O’Sullivan; B Carroll, B O’Connell, T Carroll; C O’Leary, L Sexton, C McGann; C Barry, A O’Sullivan; C Spillane, B Fitzgerald, P Mahon; A Spillane, T McCarthy, A Fenton.

Subs: M Spillane for McCarthy (41, injured), R Fenton for A O’Sullivan (47), R O’Regan for Fenton (59).

NEWCESTOWN: J O’Sullivan; O Keane, J Crowley, M McSweeney; J Desmond, C O’Neill, C Twomey; D Twomey, T Twomey; E Kelly, C Keane, T Horgan; M Bradfield, H Curran, F Keane.

Subs: L Meade for M Bradfield (36), G O’Driscoll for T Horgan (39).

Referee: Mark Maher (St Finbarr’s).

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