While this time of year nearly always mitigates against flowing hurling, this was, nevertheless, an absorbing contest. Having led by four points at half-time, after playing with the wind, Hamilton expected a strong riposte from Dungarvan in the second-half and when the questions were asked they had the answers.
Michael Cahalane, currently training with the Cork senior panel, led the way as always with 10 points, but it was far from a one-man operation. Full-back and captain Micheál McSweeney shone in defence, limiting the effectiveness of Patrick Curran, while Luke Meade performed a role of inestimable value as a sweeper in the second-half. In addition, Jerry O’Neill worked hard in the half-forward line.
For manager Aidan O’Donoghue the disciplined defending was a key component in advancing.
“It’s very difficult to put into words,” he said.
“We feel we should have been more than four points up at half-time, we had a strong wind but we didn’t work hard enough. We knew what was ahead of us in the second-half, we knew it was a big job but they did it, they absolutely emptied the tank. They were incredibly disciplined.”
Dungarvan, featuring a number of players to win the competition as part of the combined Dungarvan Colleges side, may reflect on the decision not to move away from playing a sweeper in the second-half when they had the wind. While Darragh Lyons had a great game in that berth, he may have been more effective in attack where Curran was shouldering a heavy scoring burden despite only recovering from a broken hand. In the opening half, Lyons prevented Hamilton taking full advantage of the elements, while Cormac Curran was on top in midfield. Three late Cahalane points gave Hamilton the 0-8 to 0-5 interval advantage, however.
Though Dungarvan’s Cormac O’Grady registered the first score of the second-half inside 16 seconds, the expected overhaul never happened as Bandon defended well, Andrew O’Connell shining and Cahalane on hand to convert any frees. Trevor Horgan’s 42nd-minute point opened up a 0-11 to 0-7 lead and while Dungarvan’s play had begun to betray some anxiety, two points from Patrick Curran and one by Carthach Barry had just one in it with 10 minutes left.
Cahalane eased Bandon ahead again and while Dungarvan piled on the pressure, the defending remained stout, McSweeney making a great kicked clearance after losing his hurley and Christopher O’Leary an outstanding sliding block. Patrick Curran’s free from the 65m line put just a point in it, but when sub Eoin O’Reilly engineered a Bandon break and was fouled, Cahalane put it over. The whistle sounded moments later, a semi-final against Ardscoil Rís on February 1 secured.
Scorers for Hamilton HS: M Cahalane 0-10 (five frees, two 65s, one sideline), T Horgan 0-2, L Meade 0-1.
Scorers for Dungarvan CBS: P Curran 0-7 (four frees, one 65), C O’Grady 0-2, C Barry, A Donnelly 0-1 each.
HAMILTON HS: R McCarthy (Valley Rovers); A O’Connell (Bandon), M McSweeney (Newcestown), J O’Callaghan (Ahan Gaels); N Murray (Newcestown), C O’Leary (Valley Rovers), M Kennelly (Newcestown); J Mulcahy (Bandon), L Meade (Newcestown); J O’Neill (Courcey Rovers), T Horgan (Newcestown), D Curran (Newcestown); B Crowley (Valley Rovers), M Cahalane (Bandon), K O’Donovan (Ahan Gaels).
Sub: E O’Reilly (Valley Rovers) for Crowley (28).
DUNGARVAN CBS: S Murray (Dungarvan); B Egan (Dungarvan), K Daly (Dungarvan), C Culloo (Ballinameela); C Barry (Brickey Rangers), M Cronin (Ardmore), S Nugent (St Carthage’s); C Curran (Brickey Rangers), M Shine (Ballinameela); P Curran (Dungarvan), A Donnelly (Dungarvan), C O’Grady (St Carthage’s); D Lyons (Dungarvan), C Morrissey (Brickey Rangers), G Waters (Dungarvan).
Referee: F Horgan (Tipperary).