Granted, Bishopstown were full value for their win, and, indeed, the 13-point margin, but all present at Macroom will have acknowledged that the events of the13th minute settled this first round tie.
First to provide the background. A Conor Dorman delivery just a minute earlier had been insufficiently dealt with by Ilen Rovers keeper Gary Coakley. Sam Oakes gathered the breaking ball, off-loaded to Paul Honohan and the centre-forward rattled the net from close range, edging Leo Jones’ outfit 1-2 to 0-1 ahead.
Now here’s where it gets interesting. From the ensuing kick-out, Ilen Rovers seized possession and attacked with greater purpose than they would all afternoon. The ball was moved to full-forward Kieran O’Driscoll whose initial fisted effort ricocheted off the crossbar, his rebound attempt superbly saved by Ken O’Halloran.
Back down the field swept Bishopstown. Fiachra Desmond supplied Sam Oakes and the corner-forward engaged the left fist to provide goal number two. The scoreline now read 2-2 to 0-1 whereas a goal at the other end would have narrowed the gap to the minimum.
On such fine margins are games won and lost and Bishopstown manager Leo Jones pointed to O’Halloran’s save as the crucial moment.
“Ken O’Halloran showed why he is the Cork goalkeeper. That double save in the first-half was crucial,” he said. “It turned the game and shortly after we went and got our second goal.”
The city club soaked up the momentum from successive goals with O’Halloran (0-1 ’45), the impressive Diarmuid Lester (0-2), Sam Oaks and Daniel O’Donovan (0-1 each) inflating their tally. The five unanswered points moved the winners 2-7 to 0-1 clear by the break, a Kevin O’Sullivan free on two minutes signifying Ilen Rovers’ sole score of the first-half.
To their credit, Johnny Holland’s side took the fight to Bishopstown at the change of ends – three minors on the hop from Dan MacEoin (0-2) and Alan Holland reducing the deficit, not to mention the restoration of pride.
Fiachra Desmond and Paul Honohan swapped points with Tom Bushe and substitute Conor Harrington thereafter. No substantial inroad, however, was ever really made on the Bishopstown lead.
The winners pressed home their advantage in the final quarter, the pick of the scores two absolute beauties from Daniel O’Donovan, both via the outside of the left boot. The towering midfielder scored five points overall, four arriving during a terrific second-half display. Denis Crowley, another to stand out, would fail to get his name on the scoresheet, but important to note his contribution caused major problems for the opposition rearguard.
“Sleeping giant that fella,” said Jones of O’Donovan.
“There is way more in him. He got one with the outside of the left boot on the left-hand touchline. It was a superb score. It was a very good team performance in the first-half. The second was a bit sloppy.”
Hard to credit, such was Bishopstown’s complete dominance yesterday, that it was Ilen who edged proceedings when these two teams clashed 12 months ago. Glorious redemption then by the maroon clad footballers.
“Last year was a battle, but Ilen are better than that. They were a bit flat, but they will be back. We thought coming down that it was going to be a harder battle than it was. We set down a marker early on. Killian Davin, just out of minor, Brian Coffey and Johnny McLoughlin – they wouldn’t be household names on the senior championship scene. These lads did very well. We will drive on from here.”
Scorers for Bishopstown: PHonohan, S Oaks (1-2 each); D O’Donovan (0-5, 0-1 free); D Lester (0-2); E Byrne, K O’Halloran (0-1 ’45), B Coffey, F Desmond (0-1 each).
Scorers for Ilen Rovers: D MacEoin (0-3, 0-1 free); K O’Sullivan (0-2, 0-2 frees), T Bushe, C Harrington, A Holland (0-1 each).
BISHOPSTOWN: K O’Halloran; K Davin, E Byrne, J O’Sullivan; C Dorman, N O’Donovan, D Lester; D O’Donovan, M O’Driscoll; J McLoughlin, P Honohan, F Desmond; B Coffey, B Crowley, S Oaks.
Subs: B O’Callaghan for Crowley (bc, 53 mins), J O’Shea for Oaks (57).
ILEN ROVERS: G Coakley; M McCarthy, C O’Driscoll, B Minihane; M Hellen, D O’Donovan, T Bushe; P O’Driscoll, C O’Driscoll; D Coughlan, C Cotter, K O’Sullivan; S O’Donovan, A Holland, D MacEoin.
Subs: C Harrington for Cotter (HT), A Hassett for P O’Driscoll (bc, 33 mins), P Minihane for Regan (53), P Hickey for B Minihane (57).
Referee: S Ryan (Macroom).