A terrific comeback saw Hamilton HS reach the knockout stages of the Dr Harty Cup for the second successive year as they suckered Midleton CBS at Church Road yesterday.
Having trailed 0-16 to 1-5 early in the second half, the Bandon school doggedly battled back into contention but couldn’t get closer than two points. John Looney’s fifth point looked to have put Midleton — who, like Hamilton, went into this with two wins from two — into the quarter-finals as he made it 0-21 to 1-15 in the 60th minute.
The East Cork school had lost full-back Ian Cahill to a second yellow card on the three-quarter mark, however, and in added time were penned back. The resistance was proving stout, but in the 63rd minute a shot by Hammies midfielder Jonathan Mulcahy wasn’t properly dealt with and corner-back Joe O’Mahony prodded home to level.
Few in the large crowd would have quibbled then had it been the last action, but injuries to players on both sides meant there was time for the other Hamilton corner-back, Luke Murray, to get his second point and send those in yellow and white into raptures.
It was the first and only time last year’s beaten semi-finalists had led and it was an outcome which was difficult to foresee for much of the contest.
With the sides having shared the opening two points, it looked ominous as Midleton reeled off eight in a row inside in the opening 13 minutes.
The full-forward line of Josh Beausang, John Looney and Billy Dunne were on fire with Brendan McCarthy and Killian Broderick well on top at midfield. A Cathal Maguire goal, coupled the withdrawal of Billy Crowley to a sweeping role and Luke Meade coming to the fore around the middle, helped Hamilton to steady things, but at half-time, Midleton still led by 0-15 to 1-5.
Beausang got his eighth point immediately after the restart, but some sloppiness seeped into their shooting, and Hamilton took advantage, as Eoin O’Reilly, Darragh Curran and Murray all scored to bring the deficit back to a manageable four points.
Even so, Midleton were still able to find scores when required, as when Gary Leahy and Dunne eased them clear again. Hamilton wouldn’t relent, however, with Chris O’Leary at centre-back staying resolute and Mulcahy’s powerful running from midfield leading to chances, while Colm Dinneen battled hard inside.
They had come back to three points, 0-18 to 1-12, when Cahill was dismissed, but while O’Leary nailed a long-range free, both he and O’Reilly missed other chances.
Beausang and McCarthy put four in it again but still the Hammies couldn’t be killed off. Ultimately, they were rewarded for their persistence.
Scorers for Hamilton HS: E O’Reilly 0-6 (four frees), C Maguire 1-2, J O’Mahony 1-0, D Curran, L Murray 0-2, C O’Leary (free), L Meade, J Mulcahy, J Kelleher 0-1 each.
Scorers for Midleton CBS: J Beausang 0-9 (four frees, one 65), J Looney 0-5, G Leahy 0-3, B Dunne, B McCarthy 0-2 each.
HAMILTON HS: C Dart O’Flynn (Valley Rovers); L Murray (Ballinascarthy), E O’Brien (Ballinascarthy), J O’Mahony (Bandon); W Hurley (Valley Rovers), C O’Leary (Valley Rovers), J Kelleher (Newcestown); L Meade (Newcestown), J Mulcahy (Bandon); D Curran (Newcestown), B Crowley (Valley Rovers), C Maguire (Courcey Rovers); C Dinneen (Newcestown), S O’Donovan (Newcestown), E O’Reilly (Valley Rovers).
Sub: T Sheehan (Kilbrittain) for Maguire (55, injured).
MIDLETON CBS: S O’Flynn (Carrigtwohill); M Mellerick (Fr O’Neills), I Cahill (Cloyne), B Cashman (Carrigtwohill); C Beausang (Midleton), E Leahy (Aghada), S Smyth (Midleton); K Broderick (Fr O’Neills), B McCarthy (Carrigtwohill); K O’Sullivan (Fr O’Neills), J McDonnell (Aghada), G Leahy (Killeagh); J Looney (Aghada), J Beausang (Russell Rovers), B Dunne (Fr O’Neills).
Subs: J Sherlock (Cloyne) for Broderick (39, injured), K Moynihan (Russell Rovers) for Dunne, Daniel Harrington (Fr O’Neills) for C Beausang (both 55), S O’Connor (Fr O’Neills) for Cashman (60, injured).
Referee: N Wall (Carrigaline).