From the wave of electricity that rolled down from the stand on 59 minutes when Carrigtwohill’s Tomás Hogan hit his seventh free to put his side ahead, to the depths of disappointment two minutes later, Niall Kidney’s charges left Páirc Uí Rinn Saturday night knowing this was a result snatched from their grasp. They couldn’t but feel short-changed.
Last year’s defeated county finalists Glen Rovers, shocked in the first round by Ballymartle, teetered on the brink of a second successive championship defeat when trailing the East Cork outfit as the clock spilled into second-half stoppages.
The Glen managed only two points from open play in the previous hour, their hurling devoid of any sense of fluency, structure or composure. The underdogs operated a two-man full-forward line with the excellent Noel Furlong taking up the sweeper role in defence.
The net result was that the supply of ball into target-man Patrick Horgan was extremely poor and on the rare occasion the Cork forward gathered possession cleanly, he was quickly wrapped up by a swarm of blue jerseys - Pat O’Sullivan particularly tigerish in dealing with Horgan.
A third round date beckoned for Kelleher’s side when Hogan edged Carrigtwohill in front for the seventh time, but unlike their first round clash, the city outfit were not willing to accept their fate. Dave Noonan landed a huge score from halfway 30 seconds into injury time to level matters and Dean Brosnan stole victory on 62 minutes, delivering another fine point from out the field.
The tireless Niall McCarthy engineered a last-ditch chance in the subsequent action, the angle, however, proving too tight.
In truth, the Glen had prevailed in what was a most disappointing encounter which was level on no fewer than nine occasions. And while the error rate was high on both sides, the closeness of the scoring and the manner in which the lead changed hands somewhat compensated for the paucity of class.
“Huge relief,” remarked Kelleher. “We expected to win, but we expected a huge game from Carrigtwohill. They had spirit coming out their ears and we lacked a bit of that. Carrigtwohill tore into us and we stole it at the end.
“We never gave up. People would question us, but we kept going, kept driving on. We knew they would tire and that we were fit enough, with the hurlers, who if they got the chance towards the end, would take it.
“In my eyes, we had a great season last year except for the 60 minutes of the county final. We came from nowhere. The first round defeat brought players back down to earth and even this battle will bring them on. Tonight was a battle and we won the battle.”
The opening period proved to be nothing more than a shootout between the respective free-takers, Horgan and Hogan. Both men landed five apiece and it was Carrigtwohill who enjoyed the interval advantage, 0-7 to 0-6. Their lead could have been far more substantial with Glen ’keeper Cathal Hickey denying his opposite number Shane Devlin with a flying penalty save on 15 minutes. The chance arose from a Stephen McDonnell foul on Niall McCarthy, and the former Cork hurler should have done better when Seán Dempsey put him through for a second time on 22 minutes, shooting narrowly wide.
Points from Hogan (0-2, one free) and sub Jason Barrett edged Carrigtwohill into a 0-10 to 0-8 lead entering the final quarter, but push on they couldn’t.
Two Patrick Horgan frees tied matters and although points from Darren O’Driscoll and Hogan (free) twice more propelled Kidney’s side into pole position, a succession of late wides frustrated their efforts to close out the result.
“Margins are so small,” continued Kelleher. “If we had lost that match it would have been so hard to lift the lads for round 3. This win is a big boost. We want it all ahead of us and we do have more in the tank. The trick is to get it out.”
P Horgan (0-9, 8 frees, 1 ‘65); S Kennifick, D Brosnan, D Cunningham, D Noonan (0-1 each).
T Hogan (0-8, 7 frees); R White, N McCarthy, D O’Driscoll, J Barrett (0-1 each).
C Hickey; B Murphy, S McDonnell, G Moylan; D Noonan, B Moylan, A O’Donovan; Dooling, D Brosnan; B Phelan, D Cunningham, D Busteed; C Dorris, P Horgan, E O’Connell.
S Kennefick for O’Connell (41); G Kennefick for Phelan (50); C Healy for O’Donovan (58).
S Devlin; A Garde, P O’Sullivan, R Power; C O’Connell, N Furlong, M O’Riordan; P Hogan, L O’Sullivan; J Horgan, T Hogan, S Dempsey; N McCarthy, R White, D O’Driscoll.
J Barrett for Horgan (42).
D Kirwan (Eire Óg).