Bride Rovers can thank Barry Johnson for keeping their Cork SHC ambitions alive and at the same time avoiding a dreaded relegation final against Killeagh.
At Páirc Ui Rinn yesterday Johnson chalked up the impressive tally of 2-10 as his side came from six points down with nine minutes of normal to go, to fashion a thrilling four point victory after extra-time.
The win preserves their senior status and also qualifies them for the fourth round of the championship where they will meet Na Piarsaigh.
With so much riding on the outcome, much was expected from this game, but apart from the last 10 minutes of normal time and the 20 minutes of extra-time, there was little in the way of entertainment.
Courceys played with the strong wind in the opening half but it was their opponents who made the better start with a brace of points in the first five minutes.
Hurling with the greater purpose, Bride Rovers’s more direct hurling troubled their opponents no end but once Vincie Hurley settled at centre-back, Courceys took full advantage of the elements and the excellent free taking of Daire Lordan had them 0-4 to 0-2 in front at the end of the first quarter.
Lordan as giving Brian Murphy a torrid time and he landed three great points, two superb long-range efforts, to forge further ahead coming up to half-time.
Bride’s cause wasn’t helped by the loss of Michael Collins who had to be stretchered off after a collision with a defender and they went 20 minutes without a score before Barry Johnson – he finished the half with all his side’s scores – pointed a long range free.
Eight minutes were added for the injury to Collins during which Daire Lordan showed his prowess from placed balls, pointing three frees in a row which left his side 0-9 to 0-4 in front at the break.
Courceys kept their foot on the gas on the changeover and stretched their lead with a quick point and Bride were in need of a goal if they were to survive this test.
That chance came when Cian O’Connor was hauled down going through but Barry Johnson’s effort from the penalty and rebound were blocked by the ‘keeper.
However the wind was clearly a factor and the pressure on the Courceys defence was immense and the break through finally came when Owen Murphy was on the end of Johnson’s long range free to steer the sliotar to the net.
A Cian O’Connor point followed and the Courceys defence was under enormous pressure as the tension mounted. Defenders Gary Minihane, Vincie Hurley and Timmy Lordan coped well with the ever-increasing pressure and three points in a row eased the Ballinaspittle side into an 0-15 to 1-6 led with eight minutes remaining.
However back came Bride and cut the deficit to three points as the game entered added time. The pressure was relentless on the Courceys defence and when Bride won a 20-metre free in the 62nd it was a goal or nothing. Johnson stepped up to take the free against the nine man wall and he blasted the ball to the roof of the net to earn his side 20 minutes extra-time.
Points were exchanged in the first period before Johnson again came to his side’s aid, drilling a penalty to the net after Sean Ryan was held going through.
That goal left his side 3-12 to 0-18 in front at the end of the first period and in the second period two clearly exhausted sides found scores hard to come by, Bride adding just two further points, by Johnson while Courceys could only manage one, from Daire Lordan.
Scorers for Bride Rovers: B. Johnson 2-10 (1-9 frees, 1-0 pen.); O. Murphy 1-0; C. O’Connor 0-3; S. Ryan 0-1.
Scorers for Courcey Rovers: Daire Lordan 0-11 (0-10 frees, 0-1 65); S. Hayes, K. Moloney 0-2 each; N. Murphy, S. Holland, V., Hurley, J. O’Reilly 0-1 each.
BRIDE ROVERS: D. Fitzgerald; S. Kearney, B. Walsh, D. Carr; S., Walsh, B. Murphy, L. Forde; J. Pratt, Barry Murphy; M. Collins, B.
Johnson, C. O’Connor; J. Mannix, S. Glasgow, S. Ryan.
Subs: F. Collins for L. Forde (20); O. Murphy for M. Collins (20); M. Liddane for J., Pratt (half time); M. Collins for J. Mannix (47); M. Kearney for O. Murphy (65); J. Pratt for Barry Murphy (66); J.
O’Driscoll for S. Ryan (68).
COURCEY ROVERS: S. Nyhan; J. Duggan, G. Moloney, D. Duggan; O. Gately, V. Hurley, T. Lordan; G. Moloney, G. Lordan; N. Murphy, D.
Lordan, J. O’Neill; S. Hayes, K. Moloney, S. Moloney.
Subs: S. Holland for J. O’Neill (35); D. Liddane for S. Moloney (45); J., O’Reilly for N,. Murphy (50); S. McCarthy for Dan Lordan (55); Dan Lordan for S. Hayes (65).
Referee: C. Lyons (Nemo Rangers).,