It was a potential banana skin against another East Cork side but there was never any danger this time, as the Magpies were up and running from the off. Despite missing a good few players, and also losing Brian Hartnett and Paul Haughney to injury inside the opening 10 minutes, they will have a say again this year, especially if they have a full panel to choose from.
“We were going to the bare bones with a lot of injuries,” said manager Peter Smith afterwards, “but the lads that came in came up trumps and that is a good sign. Brian and Paul went down with old injuries so we will have to see how they go. The bonus is we have competition for places now. If we get all the lads back, we might actually be a force.”
The game was a tame affair. County seniors Conor Lehane and Luke O’Farrell caught the eye with some fine point-taking. Lehane tallied 10 points while O’Farrell playing at wing-forward scored three spectacular minors in the first half. Aidan Ryan was rock-solid at centre-back while Joe Loftus was another to stand out — the net minder not alone brought off some awesome saves but he cleared his lines too.
Killeagh found the going tough. Once Eoin Walsh expertly struck Midleton’s first goal in the seventh minute, they hit five points to push them 1-7 to 0-4 ahead. Brendan Barry worked tirelessly as Andrew Walsh, Gary Leahy and Joe Deane cut the deficit. However, Midleton stormed back with O’Farrell and Lehane rifling over points, plus a goal in injury-time from sub Padraig Nagle gave them a worthy 2-12 to 0-7 advantage at the break.
The result was inevitable as Midleton turned to play with the wind and two quick points from Lehane and Walsh gave them a fine start. But Killeagh replied courtesy of sub Eoghan Keniry who struck a vital goal after collecting Cian Fogarty’s sideline cut. Midleton replied with Patrick White beating Bernard Rochford, 3-14 to 1-9.
Killeagh actually outscored Midleton four points to two during the next 15 minutes — the pick of which came from Keniry out on the wing. But the game was petering out as a contest. Killeagh were awarded two close-in frees and had to go for goal. Kieran Lane stood over the first while Philip O’Neill struck the second — both were saved by the outstanding Loftus. He also stopped a penalty in the closing minutes.
There was time for White and Walsh to chip in with Midleton points. But, on a difficult afternoon for Killeagh who now go on to round three, the champions sent out a message they are back on track.
Scorers for Midleton: C Lehane (0-10, 5fs, 1 65), E Walsh (1-3), P White (1-1), P Nagle (1-0), L O’Farrell (0-3), P Haughney (0-1).
Scorers for Killeagh: J Deane (0-6, frees), E Keniry (1-1), G Leahy (0-2), A Walsh, B Barry, D Walsh and S Long (0-1 each).
MIDLETON: J Loftus; E Mulcahy, A Kearney, L Coughlan; S O’Farrell (Capt), A Ryan, J Nagle; P Haughney, P Dowling; L O’Farrell, P O’Shea, E Walsh; B Hartnett, C Lehane, P White.
Subs: P O’Keeffe for P Haughney (10 inj), P Nagle for B Hartnett (12 inj), S Smyth for E Mulcahy (53).
KILLEAGH: B Rochford; A Keniry, P O’Brien (Capt), S Treacy; P O’Neill, K Lane, C Fogarty; D Walsh, J Deane; B Barry, A Walsh, J Budds; S Long, G Leahy, D Cahill.
Subs: E Keniry for D Cahill (26), D Cahill for S Treacy (50), P Carroll P O’Neill (59).
Referee: Nathan Wall (Carrigaline).