Just as they had done against Nemo Rangers in the first round, Ilen sprung from the traps to deliver a hugely impressive first-half showing on Saturday evening. On this occasion, it was successfully carried through to the change of ends. No fade out, no implosion.
Dan MacEoin led the charge from full-forward, last year’s Cork U21 star claiming 1-5. His sharp turn of pace and precision off the left boot plagued the St Nick’s defence.
Mind you, the supporting cast of Alan Holland, Sean O’Donovan, Stephen Leonard and Kevin O’Sullivan weren’t far behind in terms of influence exerted.
Holland and Kevin O’Sullivan finished with four points apiece, while Cork minor Leonard was a boundless source of energy and enthusiasm in the left corner. At the other end, centre-back Tim O’Regan was a pillar of stability.
“Most of our six forwards have played at some level with Cork so you have to be expecting a good spread of scorers,” said Holland.
“They put in the work and while we are not going to get carried away, we are delighted to be in round 4.
”The foundations for victory, as noted, were laid in the opening half an hour, Ilen Rovers racing to a seven-point interval advantage (1-9 to 0-5). Two minors from Barry O’Donovan handed Nick’s an encouraging start, but their defence was already struggling to come to terms with the direct running of the Ilen Rovers attack. Stephen Leonard pointed before Alan Holland set up MacEoin on eight minutes. Goal Ilen Rovers.
Glenn Kennifick and Robert McCarthy-Coade levelled matters by the 12th minute, but the city outfit would manage only one further score in the first-half – goalkeeper Kieran McEnery on target from the placed ball.
Eight of the next nine scores fell to Holland’s side, Alan Holland, O’Donovan, MacEoin (0-2), Leonard (0-2) and O’Sullivan (0-2) inflicting the damage.
The winners failed to raise a flag in the second-half against Nemo last time out and fears of a repeat scenario were put to bed within 52 seconds of the restart, MacEoin extending their advantage to eight points.
Nick’s tried to fight their way back, four wides on the hop frustrating their efforts. Substitute Evan Kearney ended a 20-minute barren spell when kicking their first point of the second period on 43 minutes and it must be asked why Kearney and fellow second-half subs Chris McCarthy and Liam Coughlan were not on the field from the off – the trio contributing 1-5.
Chris McCarthy finished to the net on 62 minutes, the result having long since been decided. Nicks will learn their round 3 opponents tomorrow evening from a quartet also featuring Clonakilty, Aghada and Clyda Rovers.
Added Johnny Holland: “We were conscious we had to get a good start. It was important we didn’t let them stay in the game too long. Once we were ahead, it was much easier to control the game. There was no fade out like as happened in the first round. We have been working hard on that for the past few weeks. We still feel there is more to go. We are in transition so it is all about learning and building, learning and building. We will continue along those lines.”
Scorers for Ilen Rovers: D MacEoin (1-5, 0-1 free); K O’Sullivan (0-1 free), A Holland (0-4 each); S Leonard, S O’Donovan, (0-3 each).
Scorers for St Nick’s: E Kearney (0-4, 0-3 frees); L Coughlan (1-0); B O’Donovan (0-2); K McEnery (0-1 free), R McCarthy-Coade, D Brosnan, G Kennifick, C McCarthy (0-1 each).
ILEN ROVERS: D Hickey; A Hassett, J Picket, C Cotter; D O’Donovan, T O’Regan, A Coughlan; C O’Driscoll, P O’Driscoll; C O’Driscoll, S O’Donovan, A Holland; S Leonard, D MacEoin, K O’Sullivan.
Subs: P Minihane for Cotter (48 mins), C Harrington for O’Sullivan (56, bc).
ST NICK’S: K McEnery; K Spain, D Óg O’Donovan, T Spain; A Lynch, P O’Brien, D Dunlea; L Forde, R Brosnan; R McCarthy-Coade, Dean Brosnan, D Busteed; B O’Donovan, David Brosnan, G Kennifick.
Subs: E Kearney for McCarthy-Coade (40 mins), L Coughlan for R Brosnan (51), C McCarthy for Busteed (51).
Referee: J Ryan (Macroom).