Last year, the city side were beaten by Blackrock in the first round and then fell to Youghal in their second game before regrouping and reaching the semi-finals.
Manager Leonard Forde was delighted to have cleared the opening hurdle in such convincing fashion.
“We’re delighted to be over the first round,” he said. “We were worried after last year’s performances in the early rounds but we really stepped up and I’m delighted for the players.
“Losing to Youghal last year did spur us on a little bit, but I think the players themselves realised that they didn’t play up to their potential then. They stood up on Saturday.”
It wasn’t one-way traffic throughout – Youghal led 0-3 to 0-1 after 10 minutes despite playing against the considerable breeze – but once McDonnell struck his first goal, a super finish after winning Eoin Moynihan’s delivery, Piarsaigh wouldn’t trail again. By half-time the lead was 2-7 to 0-6 and less than five minutes of the second half had elapsed before McDonnell and Pádraig Gould added further goals to secure the outcome.
“We felt that there were goals in this team and today it worked out,” Forde said. “We took a while to settle, but once we did there was only one team in it.”
Two Brendan Ring frees and a point by the lively Andrew Joyce gave Youghal an early boost while the wind at Piarsaigh’s backs wasn’t helping them as they shot five wides before the goal.
Ring, who scored seven of Youghal’s total, did level things at 1-1 to 0-4 on 14 minutes with a free after Brett Moloney was fouled, but Na Piarsaigh would score another 1-4 before Youghal had a score.
The second goal on 18 minutes again came from McDonnell. When Youghal full-back John Grace had been unlucky not to make an interception, the break fell to Keith Buckley, who fed McDonnell for a fine finish.
Immediately after that, Moloney might have had a Youghal goal but Adam Dennehy took his effort off the line and points from Cian O’Mahony and Stephen O’Sullivan pushed Piarsaigh 2-5 to 0-4 in front.
Two Ring frees gave the East Cork men hope but too often their short passing was leading to nothing. Moloney did have another half-chance of a goal but once more Dennehy was alert and points at the other end from Gould and Buckley ensured that Na Piarsaigh’s seven-point advantage was restored by the break.
An early Youghal goal was required on the resumption if they were to make a game of it, but instead Na Piarsaigh got it. Having pointed within 15 seconds of the restart, McDonnell got his hat-trick after good work from O’Sullivan. That made it 3-8 to 0-6 and, while Joyce set up Moloney for a Youghal point, Gould struck a fourth goal on 35 minutes, racing in along the endline, selling a dummy before firing home.
That was pretty much that. Youghal brought Brendan Ring to centre-forward with Bill Cooper moving to the edge of the square but the ploy failed to return much. Twice they won 20m frees, but Cooper and then Ring had their efforts kept out by Na Piarsaigh goalkeeper Alan Keating.
Even with the loss of John Gardiner after a knock, the Piarsaigh defence remained resolute, with Rónán McGregor slotting seamlessly into centre-back.
The fifth goal arrived on the three-quarter mark as O’Sullivan claimed a Cian Buckley sideline cut and turned and shot with vigour.
Keith Buckley added further points as they saw out time, leaving 16 in it at the end and putting them safely into the fourth round.
A derby with Killeagh beckons for Youghal in round two.
I McDonnell 3-1, S O’Sullivan 1-2, K Buckley 0-5 (three frees, one 65), P Gould 1-1, C O’Mahony 0-2, J Gardiner, P Rourke 0-1 each.
Brendan Ring 0-7 (four frees), A Joyce, C O’Mahony, B Cooper, B Moloney, N Roche 0-1 each.
A Keating; A Brady, S Curtin, A Dennehy; R McGregor, J Gardiner, C Buckley; E Moynihan, P Gould; D Lee, P Rourke, K Buckley; I McDonnell, S O’Sullivan, C O’Mahony.
E Gunning for Gardiner (44, injured), E Hanifin for McDonnell (54).
R Cunningham; J Ormonde, J Grace, Barry Ring; K Walsh, C Spillane, O Dempsey; A Joyce, A Frahill-O’Connor; C O’Mahony, B Cooper, D Ring; B Moloney, Brendan Ring, A Curtin.
N Roche for Spillane (29-half-time, blood), Roche for Curtin (half-time), C O’Sullivan for Brendan Ring (37-38, blood), B O’Sullivan for Barry Ring (37), C O’Sullivan for Moloney (44).
D Copps (Ballyhea).