Real tough on Kilbrittain after a hard fought Cork Premier IHC relegation play-off battle in Riverstown on Saturday though, in truth, Watergrasshill deserved their triumph for they were far busier around the park than their Carbery opponents.
Yes, there was plenty of energy and scoring, but, in the end, Watergrasshill always had that extra bit of cuteness, took their scores well and were a far more potent scoring force than Kilbrittain, who would have loved to have had the services of Jamie Wall, who is fighting his own battle in Dublin.
Star of the show for the ’Hill was centre-forward Shane O’Regan, who fired over a tasty 1-11, 1-4 from play. He was all over the park and gave the Kilbrittain defence a torrid time, ably assisted by Johnny Halbert and Paudie Cahill when he came on board.
And against a tight defence, in which team captain Noel O’Riordan was sublime, well assisted by Mossy Barry, Pa Cronin and Eoin O’Reilly, Kilbrittain struggled up front, dangerman Ross Cashman held to just a goal from play.
No wonder Watergrasshill selector Ciarán O’Neill was happy after.
“I’m glad that’s over, I was a nervous wreck all the week. It didn’t go so well in the first-half, though being able to bring on Kieran Coakley and Paudie Cahill, who were not fit enough to start, gave us a great boost. They really did well.
“I was really delighted for Shane [O’Regan]. That lad is under 21 again next year and he’s been outstanding for us all year. Hopefully, we can learn from all this next season and not find ourselves in the same predicament again. It’s nerve wracking.”
It was nip and tuck in a tight opening half, O’Regan firing over two quick frees for the ’Hill only for Chris Hickey to reply with two fine scores from play. Then a blow for the ’Hill when they lost young midfielder Kevin O’Neill with a nasty head injury and Kilbrittain began to make inroads.
O’Regan and substitute Kieran Coakley did restore the ’Hill’s lead but then came the only goal of the half, David Desmond setting up Cashman who made no mistake from close range to push Kilbrittain into the lead.
It was 1-4 to 0-4 to Kilbrittain after the opening quarter, but, mainly due to O’Regan’s accuracy, the ’Hill were always able to stay in control. O’Regan fired over seven points, five frees, and with Sean O’Callaghan getting two it enabled the East Cork side to lead 0-12 to 1-7 at the break.
Anthony Cronin and Cahill put some daylight between them with two quick points but back came Kilbrittain with points from Pat O’Mahoney and David Desmond.
But, in the 38tn minute, came the goal that rattled Kilbrittain — and it was a good one too. Noel O’Riordan starting off the move, Eoin Barry picking it up and feeding O’Regan who fired in cracker. It pushed them into a comfortable 1-18 to 1-11 lead entering the final quarter and they looked set to push on.
But battling Kilbrittain came again. two Cashman frees and a point from play by Dave Desmond giving them a glimmer of hope. A tasty Watergrasshill pushed on again though and it was always going to be their night as O’Regan, Cahill and Jason Foley pointed to put the East Corkmen on a high and push Kilbrittain down to the lower level.
Scorers for Watergrasshill: S O’Regan (1-11, 0-6fs, 1 65), K Coakley, A Cronin, S O’Callaghan, P Cahill (0-2 each), D O’Farrell, J Foley, D O’Callaghan (f) 0-1 each
Scorers for Kilbrittain: R Cashman 1-6 (0-5f, 1 65), C Hickey, P O’Mahoney, D Desmond (0-2 each), C Moloney, A Hayes, T Harrington, J Hurley (65) (0-1 each).
WATERGRASSHILL: A Foley: P Cronin, M Barry, E O’Reilly; A Cronin, N O’Riordan, P O’Regan; K O’Neill, S O’Callaghan; W Connolly, S O’Regan, E Barry; D O’Farrell, J Halbert, J Foley
Subs: K Coakley for O’Neill (inj 10), P Cahill for Foley (25), J Foley for Barry (48), D O’Callaghan for Connolly (56), C Fenton for O’Farrell (59).
KILBRITTAIN: R Hayes; C McCarthy, J Murphy, D Desmond; J Deasy, C Hickey, V O’Brien; D Desmond M Sexton; C Moloney, C O’Leary, P O’Mahoney; D Harrington, R Cashman, A Hayes
Subs: T Harrington for Moloney (40), J Hurley for Deasy (47).
Referee: D Daly (Brian Dillons)