Leo Jones searches for a lighter outside the Bishopstown dressing room in Páirc Uí Rinn, a member of his backroom team happy to oblige. Cigarette lit, the winning manager blows a fair puff of smoke into the evening rain. The relief.
A testing fortnight it’s been for Jones and Bishopstown. First, Dan O’Donovan, midfield in their first round dismissal of Ilen Rovers, picked up a season-ending knee injury in a league encounter. O’Donovan went under the knife on Saturday and won’t return until 2015. Compounding matters, centre-back Noel O’Donovan followed his namesake into the sickbay, a groin injury ruling him out of this fourth round clash. Starved of championship action for 14 weeks, and your hand weakened by the loss of two key operators. No ideal preparation.
In the end, Bishopstown pulled through this southside derby, a late power surge from the Barr’s making life more difficult than it should have been. The vanquished, holding their opponents scoreless during the final 12 minutes, kicked three points on the hop in reducing the deficit to two. No closer would they come. One point from open play in the second period encapsulating their offensive plight.
“We are delighted because we had two big setbacks coming into this,” said Jones. “These guys are a serious bunch. They are very committed. We are back in our third consecutive quarter-final, the first time that has been done in the club’s history. We are determined to drive on from here. Be it Clyda Rovers or Newcestown, we will be ready.
“We should have been more ahead at half-time. We kicked away a few chances. The long lay-off has been hard. In fairness to St Finbarr’s, the proud club they are, they came back into it in the second-half.”
Jones hit the nail on the head when surmising his charges should have been out the gap by the interval. Kevin Hodgins opened the scoring for the Barr’s inside 15 seconds, but Bishopstown quickly assumed control and 24 minutes would pass before a second Barr’s point.
Sam Oakes (two), Ken O’Halloran, Fiachra Desmond and Paul Honohan added five unanswered points for the Town, two subsequent beauties from the right boot of Oakes ensuring his side enjoyed a 0-7 to 0-3 half-time advantage. The wide count of seven to two in Bishopstown’s favour a further sign of their dominance.
St Finbarr’s desperately required a positive opening to the change of ends and, to their credit, they duly obliged. Two Jason Sexton frees and a Glen O’Connor fisted effort cut the gap cut to the minimum. Unfazed, Bishopstown moved seamlessly through the gears and were unlucky not to find the net on 45 minutes, Barr’s keeper Declan Murphy producing a superb save to deny Dave Hickey. O’Halloran converted the resulting 45 and there followed three white flags without riposte – Oakes (0-2) and Honohan the providers.
Jones had nothing but praise for young Oakes, the corner-forward finishing with 0-5 to his name.
“He is a super talent and I thought he was very unlucky not to make the Cork U21 football team this year. He is a great young fella and has a very level head on him. He scores for fun.”
With five points the difference, this contest appeared done and dusted. The Barr’s, though, weren’t prepared to go quietly through the exit door. Adrian Murphy and Sexton nailed three placed ball efforts coming down the home stretch. A goal, however, is what they craved and Bishopstown’s Alan O’Connor got a vital touch to stop possession filtering inside to the unmarked Eoin Keane on 59 minutes. Credit also to Mike Power who proved an impenetrable force in the left corner of defence.
Frustration got the better of the Barr’s thereafter with corner-back Alan O’Connor kicking Bishopstown substitute Brian Coffey in stoppages. The red card was immediately flashed by referee Michael Collins.
Relief, and the spoils to Bishopstown.
Scorers for Bishopstown: S Oakes (0-5, one free), K O’Halloran (two 45s), P Honohan (0-2 each), B Coffey (f), F Desmond (0-1 each).
Scorers for St Finbarr’s: J Sexton (0-5fs), G O’Connor, A Murphy (f), R O’Mahony, K Hodgins (0-1 each).
BISHOPSTOWN: K O’Halloran; K Davin, E Byrne, M Power; C Dorman, J O’Sullivan, D Lester; A O’Connor, M Driscoll; D Hickey, P Honohan, F Desmond; J O’Shea, D Crowley, S Oakes.
Subs: J McLoughlin for Hickey (41), B Coffey for Driscoll (bc, 42), B O’Callaghan for Oakes (53), S O’Neill for Dorman (bc, 64).
ST FINBARR’S: D Murphy; S Ryan, J Burns, R O’Dwyer; G O’Connor, M Shields, J Goggin; E Keane, I Maguire; N Horgan, R O’Mahony, A O’Connor; J Sexton, C Lyons, K Hodgins.
Subs: I Power for Goggin (23), I O’Callaghan for Lyons (ht), E Dennehy for Horgan (41), E Kennefick for O’Dwyer (51), A Murphy for Hodgins (53).
Referee: M Collins (Clonakilty).