Fielding a very experienced side, the Mid Cork outfit could well bridge that 44 year gap since their last success, but there is the question of a local derby quarter-final against Ballincollig in a fortnight’s time to contend with.
While team mentor John O’Callaghan was pleased with the performance , he cautioned against any complacency. “The Ballincollig game with be a huge task for us“, said John, “but we have a very good crop of players with a couple of more to come back from injury, and you can take it we’ll be giving it one hell of a go.
“We have been putting this panel of players together since Christmas and the co-operation of the clubs in the division has helped enormously. Nobody likes to see a club go out of the championship early, but it has benefited us hugely this season and hopefully we can keep it going.”
Despite fielding a quintet of players with senior inter-county experience, Muskerry found scores hard to come by, and it took five minutes for the first score to arrive, a Daniel Goulding effort from a 29 metre free.
The divisional side had clearly work done as they proceeded to play some excellent inter-passing football and, by the 10th minute, had taken a firm grip on proceedings. Fintan Goold was prominent at midfield and with Daniel Goulding orchestrating matters in attack, they forged 1-3 to nil ahead, Goulding slotting home a splendid ninth minute goal.
There was an air of inevitability about the outcome as Nicks struggled in most sectors. But a gradual improvement in defence, where Paul O’Brien was impressive at centre back, saw them finally open their account in the 20th minute when Graham Callanan pulled first time on a lose ball to land a point and when Robert McCarthy-Coade and Tiernan Spain pointed in quick succession, Muskerry’s lead was cut in half by the 25th minute.
However, the pacy Muskerry forwards continued to trouble the Nicks defence and a Daniel Goulding point from a 45 left the Mid Cork divisional side 1-8 to 0-3 on front at the short whistle.
Muskerry upped the tempo on the change over and a brace of points by the talented Liam Shorten — his third of the match — and Declan Ambrose who also chipped in with a goal, stretched their lead.
Nicks were badly in need of a goal if they were to stay in touch, and were gifted the chance in the 35th minute when Muskerry keeper James O’Connell lost possession coming out from goal, but they failed to take advantage and the chance was lost.
Undeterred the city side came again to win a penalty from which Robert Brosnan sent the Muskerry ‘keeper the wrong way. However before they could built on it, Muskerry hit back when Daniel Goulding showed his class by chipping the Nicks net-minder from 12 metres out and to all intents and purposes this game was as good as over.
In typical Nicks style they kept going forward but with little reward against a Muskerry defence in which Kevin Barrett, Noel O’Leary and Rory Buckley conceded little. Late points by the busy Graham Callanan and Evan Kearney helped to put some respectability on a scoreline which should have been a goal greater for the winners as John Carey’s rocket of a shot came back of the inside stension too fast for umpires to make a decision.
Scorers for Muskerry: D. Ambrose 2-2; D. Goulding 1-3 (0-1 free, 0-1 45); L. Shorten 0-3; F. Gould 0-2; S. Ó Mathuna, C. Vaughan, D. O’Connell, M. Ó Laoire 0-1 each.
St. Nicholas: R. Brosnan 1-1 (1-0 pen.); G. Callanan 0-2; T. Spain, E. Kearney, R., McCarthy-Coade (free) 0-1 each.
MUSKERRY: J. O’Connell (Macroom); S. Ó Mathúna (Naomh Abán), K. Barrett (Kilmurry), J. Carey (Dripsey); D. Ó Connaill (Cill na Martra), N. Ó Laoire (do.), R., Buckley (Macroom); F. Goold (Macroom), M. Ó Laoire (Naomh Abán); D. Ambrose (Aghinagh), C. Vaughan (Iveleary), M. Ó Conchúir (Cill na Martra); D. Twomey (Kilmichael), D. Goulding (Eire Og), L.Shorten (Beal Atha an Ghaorthaidh).
Subs: B. O’Connell (Inniscarra) for D. Twomey (35); M. O’Brien (Aghinagh) for M. O’Connor (45); M. Golden (Cill na Martra) for S. Ó Mathúna (45); F. Drummy (Kilmichael) for C. Vaughan (45); S. Murray (Dripsey) for D. Goulding (55).
ST. NICHOLAS: K. McEnery; A. Evans, D. Óg O’Donovan, C. Spain: Tiernan Spain, N. Horgan, R. McCarthy Coade; R. Brosnan, P. O’Brien; D. Busteed, Dean Broisnan, David Brosnan; E. Kearney, G., Callanan, G. Kennefick.
Subs: K. Barry for R. McCarthy-Coade (40); A., Lynch for D. Busteed (40); K. McCarthy-Coade for David Brosnan (47).
Referee: J. Bermingham (Bride Rovers).