Not since 2007 had Bride Rovers secured victory on the opening weekend of the Cork senior hurling championship and manager Joe Delaney described Saturday’s extra-time win as “a huge monkey off their backs” in avoiding the familiar trek down the back roads.
Mind you, Delaney’s charges looked destined for a second round bout when trailing Bishopstown 1-14 to 0-19 entering second-half stoppage time.
A Thomas Murray free had moved the favourites two in front; Bride Rovers launching one final assault on the opposition goal from the ensuing puck-out. Daniel Dooley offloaded to Seán Ryan and the half-forward meandered his way through the mass of maroon jerseys to fire the sliotar to the net. Bride Rovers in front.
Goalkeeper Brian O’Donovan didn’t hang about in resuming play, half-forward Brian Murray showing bags of composure to level matters in the 62nd minute. To extra-time we went.
With both sides tiring dramatically and incidences of cramp surfacing across the field, the first eight-minutes of extra-time failed to produce a single score. Then arrived the game-changer.
Barry Johnson sent a probing delivery in the direction of the Bishopstown goal and Daniel Dooley reacted quickest in pulling to the net. Shane Walsh split the posts in the subsequent play to move the underdogs 3-15 to 0-20 clear.
Referee Colm Lyons played four additional minutes at the end of the first period and Bishopstown rallied through Thomas Murray (0-2) and sub Eoin McCarthy.
Two Pa Cronin points – easily Bishopstown’s strongest performer on the night alongside Shane O’Neill – squared matters four minutes into the second period. They were, however, unable to resume pole position.
Barry Johnson threw over point number 11 after Cian O’Connor was adjudged to have been fouled and momentum was theirs when Thomas Murray missed a placed ball effort to equalise at the other end on 77 minutes. Michael Collins doubled Rovers’ advantage and they held out amid a series of late Bishopstown attacks.
“We are absolutely delighted, thrilled,” said Delaney.
“One thing that everyone knows about Rovers is that they never, never give up. They showed that at the end of normal time, they just don’t know what the meaning of it is. They’re an amazing bunch.
“It is a huge monkey off our backs. There is always the fear that the first round could lead into a second round, into a third round. Unfortunately, over the last number of years we have experienced that. That has not been for lack of effort. We got the rub of the green tonight. The goals came at the right time. We are delighted to get through round one, but it isn’t our aim for the year.
“There was a nervousness to our play early on. Experience pulled us through. Sean Ryan, who got the goal to force extra-time, is hurling 20-years for the club and he typified that never-say-attitude.”
Bishopstown, somewhat depleted by the absence of Ken O’Halloran, Denis Crowley, Paul Honohan and the O’Driscolls, Colm and Kevin, had surged 0-11 to 1-2 clear after 22 minutes. Corner-forward Thomas Murray and midfielder Cronin inflicted most of the damage, Alan O’Sullivan, Niall Feehely and David Quaid also etching their names onto the scoresheet.
Bride Rovers’ Stephen Glasgow, set-up by Ryan, pounced for the opening goal of the contest on 16 minutes, Conor O’Neill’s charges countering with five points on the bounce.
Trailing 0-13 to 1-6 at the break, the East Cork side roared into the second-half and raised five white flags without reply to complete the overtaking movement – Glasgow, Johnson (0-2), Cian O’Connor and Brian Murphy landing a series of audacious efforts.
Thomas Murray swapped points with Glasgow and Dooley thereafter and while it was nip and tuck all the way down the home stretch, two Murray points in quick succession on 59 and 60 minutes appeared to have sealed Bishopstown’s progression.
Step forward Seán Ryan to start bringing the curtain down on their eight-year losing run in the first round.
B Johnson (0-9, 8 frees); S Glasgow, D Dooley (1-2 each); S Ryan (1-0); B Murphy, S Walsh, C O’Connor, M Collins, B O’Driscoll (0-1 each).
T Murray (0-11, 8 frees); P Cronin (0-6, 1 free); B Murray, D Quaid, N Feehely (0-2 each); E McCarthy, A O’Sullivan (0-1 each).
F Hogan; F Collins, D Carr, M Liddane; B Walsh, B Murphy, S Walsh; S Kearney, C O’Connor; B Johnson, B O’Driscoll, M Collins; S Glasgow, S Ryan, D Dooley.
J Murphy for O’Driscoll (40 mins), J Pratt for Liddane (60), M Kearney for B Walsh (63), R Prendergast for Collins (77).
B Donovan; C Luttrell, M Driscoll, D Lester; R Ryan, S O’Neill, B Coffey; P Cronin, A O’Sullivan; N Feehely, E Byrne, B Murray; T Murray, M Power, D Quaid.
B McConville for Quaid (50 mins), D Hickey for O’Sullivan (50), B O’Callaghan for Feehely (59), E McCarthy for B Murray (65), J O’Sullivan for Driscoll (70), B Lane Luttrell (77).
C Lyons (Nemo Rangers).