Playing with skill and purpose, the Barr’s really turned up for this one and with the aid of two quick-fire goals, took immediate control of the contest, never letting Erin’s Own settle into their game.
And how team manager John Cremin, a former Blue stalwart himself, beamed with delight afterwards, full of praise for a “super bunch of lads”.
“Just look at the workrate out there today, the camaraderie between the players who fought for every ball. This was old Barr’s style play and, to be honest, I always felt if we turned up, we would win this game.
“We have to put eight months of hard work into this championship and to be rewarded like this is so satisfying. Last year we were on our knees, nearly out of the top flight, and we were determined never to let that happen again. It steeled us, hopefully we’ll move on from here now.”
And the Barr’s were tremendous all over the park, none more so than an unbreachable half-back line of Ronan Curran, Damien Cahalane and Eoin Keane. And with Glenn O’Connor so strong at midfield and the recalled Cathal McCarthy and Robert O’Mahony in top form, it was always going to be a Blue afternoon.
To say the opening half was pedestrian would be an understatement, but Erin’s Own were caught for two sucker-punch goals in the first three minutes of the contest, and how they drove the Barr’s on.
The first arrived after only 90 seconds, Cathal McCarthy’s long delivery was delightfully caught by Robert O’Mahony and he managed to get inside his marker Stephen Cronin and kick the ball into the net, the fine footballer he is.
Erin’s Own had barely time to draw breath when they were hit again, this time Damien Cahalane’s delivery going all the way to the net, with Colm Keane menacing.
Two goals in arrears, Erin’s Own needed to shake things up quickly and, in fairness, they did reply with a couple of Eoghan Murphy frees. Then Maurice O’Carroll had a golden chance of a goal but shot weakly, making it easy for Barr’s keeper David O’Gorman, as the city men led 2-0 to 0-2 after the opening quarter.
Cathal McCarthy had the Barr’s opening point from play in the 17th minute and with Curran imperious in defence, aided superbly by Eoin Keane and Cahalane, Erin’s Own were finding scores hard to come by. With the Murphy brothers Eoghan and Kieran well shackled, Mark Collins was their sole scorer from play in the opening half. And with Eoghan Murphy’s radar a little off with placed balls, the Barr’s led 2-2 to 0-5 at the break, Ian Maguire getting their second point.
The Barr’s had Keane at full-back in the second half and Jamie Burns at centre-back and, for a while, Erin’s Own began to make inroads, as another Murphy free and a point from play by O’Carroll left just two between the sides five minutes into the half.
But Barr’s were in no mood to let this one slip and, playing delightful hurling, outclassed Erin’s Own all over the park.
The next four points came the Barr’s way, another Lordan free, then the superb Glen O’Connor, substitute Jonathan Power and then the pick — skilled work from Curran finding Cahalane, who went on one of his darting runs and finished with aplomb.
It enabled Barr’s to lead 2-8 to 0-8 entering the final quarter and they were looking good. Then an Erin’s Own goal in the 46th minute — Clifford and O’Carroll combining to set up corner-forward Cian O’Callaghan, to leave just a goal between the sides again,
But this was always going to be the Barr’s day and just a minute later, Cathal McCarthy reacted quickest, after Colm Keane’s rasper came back off the crossbar, for a goal that finally crushed the Erin’s Own challenge.
Barr’s won all the challenges and, although things got a little heated near the finish, Lordan’s free taking and a fine effort from substitute Brian Ramsey made sure it was going to be a compressive Barr’s victory and they now face Sarsfields in the quarter-final full of confidence.
Scorers for St Finbarr’s: I Lordan (0-5fs), C McCarthy (1-2), D Cahalane (1-1), R O’Mahony (1-0), I Maguire, G O’Connor, J Power and B Ramsey (0-1 each).
Scorers for Erin’s Own: E Murphy (0-5fs), C O’Callaghan (1-0), M Collins, M O’Carroll, B Clifford and Killian Murphy (0-1 each).
ST FINBARR’S: D O’Gorman; C Walsh, J Burns, J Neville; R Curran, D Cahalane, E Keane; I Maguire, G O’Connor; J Crowley, C McCarthy, E Maher; I Lordan, R O’Mahony, C Keane
Subs: J Power for Crowley (ht), B Ramsey for Maher (54).
ERIN’S OWN: K Murphy; C O’Connor, S Cronin, N Scanlon; B Clifford, S Murphy, C Dooley; Killian Murphy, S Kelly; M Collins, E Murphy, C Coakley; M O’Carroll, Kieran Murphy, C O’Callaghan.
Subs: J Flynn for Collins (40), P Kelly for Clifford (47).
Referee: J Sexton (Ballyhea).