And their supporters acknowledged it in kind by applauding them off the field in Carrigtwohill on Saturday.
Conversely, it was another setback for a confident Na Piarsaigh who made the early running only for their challenge to be undermined by two goals in the second quarter and weakened by inefficient forward play in the second half.
Notably, rising Cork star Bill Cooper played a key role in the Youghal victory, having a bigger impact than Christopher Joyce for Na Piarsaigh. John Gardiner never really settled, was yellow-carded in the 19th minute, cautioned after giving away a penalty and didn’t appear for the second half.
The city side’s unhappiness with the outcome was reflected in a polite refusal to publicly comment. In sharp contrast, winning manager Christy Cooney was in high spirits after the final whistle, describing it as “a great night for the Youghal club”.
“It’s always hard when you come from intermediate up to senior,” he said, adding that they were “in better shape” for this test.
“We played very few matches — just a lot of hurling on the field — and our lads were well up for it. I know Na Piarsaigh got a goal in the last minute but we were always that bit better. It’s upwards and onwards for us now. We’re thrilled. It takes enormous pressure off us to be in a position to stay up senior.”
Named at centre-back but lining up at the edge of the square, Gardiner had little involvement in the early stages and the best of Na Piarsaigh’s play came from the forwards. Padraig Gould and Cian O’Mahony were quick to make an impression on the two wings and good approach play generally saw them lead 0-6 to 0-2 after 11 minutes.
The two Youghal points had come from Brendan Ring, the first from a free won by Bill Cooper and – praised by Cooney for his “class” – he was to finish top scorer with 1-8. His goal, the result of good work by full-forward Brett Moloney, came in the 14th minute and, followed quickly by a point from Moloney, it had them level and in a position which didn’t appear likely earlier on.
Opposed by Ó hAilpín, Cooper covered a lot of ground on the right wing and his inspired play enabled the seasiders to become more competitive. And, he was the player fouled by Gardiner for the 23rd minute penalty from which Leigh Desmond scored to complement his general play around midfield.
Almost immediately afterwards, Na Piarsaigh had an opportunity to get the ball in the net, from an opening made by Alan Kenneally, but as he attempted to strike on the turn, wing-back Michéal Ó Cróinín blocked his shot. Half-time saw Youghal lead 2-6 to 0-11, with all of Na Piarsaigh’s scores coming from play and all six forwards contributing. Resuming with Joyce at full-back (before moving outfield later), Na Piarsaigh paid the penalty for some early missed chances. Cooper showed the way for Youghal with a well-worked point and while they added four more up to the threequarters stage, the city side were confined to a single score from O’Mahony in the same period.
The last ten minutes saw Na Piarsaigh penetrate more, except that they found it increasingly difficult to get sores against a defence in which John Grace and Conor Spillane were commanding in the centre. Indiscipline at the other end also proved costly, meaning that the game was as good as decided before Gould goaled from an angled free in injury time.
B Ring (1-8, 0-4fs), L Desmond (1-0 pen), B Cooper and B Moloney (0-2 each), AF O’Connor and C O’Mahony (0-1 each).
P Gould (1-3, 1-0f), C O’Mahony (0-4), K Buckley (1 65), S O’Sullivan and E Moynihan (0-2 each), P Bourke and A Kenneally (0-1 each).
R Cunningham (capt); B O’Sullivan, J Grace, Barry Ring; M Ó Cróinín, C Spillane, K Walsh; L Desmond, O Dempsey; B Cooper, AF O’Connor, D Ring; N Roche, B Moloney, Brendan Ring.
C O’Mahony for Dempsey (29).
D O’Connell; D Mannix, J Gardiner, C Buckley; A Dennehy, C Joyce, S Óg Ó hAilpín; E Moynihan, R McGregor; P Gould, P Rourke, C O’Mahony; A Kenneally, S O’Sullivan, K Buckley.
A Dennehy for Gardiner (ht), S Warren for O’Mahony (39), S Curtin for McGregor (42), S Duggan for Kenneally (44).
Nathan Wall (Carrigaline).