There was so much to admire about Tracton’s winning display in the Cork Premier Intermediate Hurling championship in Pairc Uí Rinn yesterday, not just the fact that they were a man short for more than 50 minutes, but also the character shown all over the field and the skill level best-exemplified by former Kerry star Shane Brick.
In addition, the win set up an intriguing quarter-final with the Newcestown team which defeated them in the first round.
From Courcey Rovers’ viewpoint, it was inexplicable that they were unable to forge a victory after Tracton centre-back Sean O’Sullivan was red-carded in the ninth minute, especially considering that impressive full-forward Stephen Nyhan goaled for them immediately afterwards and that they stayed in front for much of the half. But Tracton’s achievement in having drawn level in the 27th minute and the massive boost they were to gain from a Brick goal less than two minutes after the resumption subject Courceys to a level of pressure they were, surprisingly, not able to counteract.
Brick’s excellence, which featured a brilliantly executed point from a sideline cut, was one of the key factors in Tracton’s gutsy recovery, and other players, including full-back Michael Barry, also made important contributions. However, in the overall context, nothing was as significant as the splendid free-taking of midfielder and captain Ronan Walsh, whose total of 10 points featured four scores from 65’s.
With star centre-back Vincent Hurley deployed as the extra man in defence, Courceys hurled comfortably for a period following O’Sullivan’s dismissal. But it was notable that they weren’t subjecting Tracton to the type of pressure that would have been expected. Quite simply, they weren’t matching their work-rate or their passionate approach to the challenge confronting them.
Walsh was to the forefront as Tracton outscored the opposition by five points to two after Nyhan had put the ball in the net and they were level by the 27th minute. And while Shane Mulcahy quickly had Courceys back in front, Tracton went in level at the interval, 1-5 to 0-8, after Michael O’Sullivan scored in injury time.
Brick’s goal, which came after he gained possession from a Walsh free which dropped short, gave them the perfect start to the second half and, vigorously contesting possession all over the field, they were further inspired by Walsh’s unerring accuracy from placed balls.
To be fair to Courceys, they were still able to win sufficient possession to allow them to maintain a decent challenge and, at a stage when they were four points in arrears, they were unlucky that the referee called back play to award a free after Nyhan had the ball in the net. And they had the added misfortune of seeing another goal chance lost a few minutes later when Shane Moloney got the ball in his hand but was prevented from getting in a shot.
In the final analysis, the crucial difference was that Courceys were unable to match Tracton’s scoring power, with the result that they never came closer than two points at any stage. And for that the winners deserve enormous credit, stretching their winning margin to six points before Courceys had full-back David Duggan red-carded.
R. Walsh (0-10, 5 frees, 4 65’s); S. Brick (1-3, 0-1 sideline); M. O’Sullivan and J. Kingston (0-2 each);
D. Lordan (0-6, 5 frees, 1 65); S. Nyhan (1-3); J. O’Neill and S. Moloney (0-1 each).
K. Lyons; G. Jagoe, M. Barry, C. McGuinness; B. Lynch, S. O’Sullivan, K. Healy; T. McGuinness, R. Walsh (capt.); J. Kingston, S. Brick, D. O’Callaghan; K. Lynch, M. O’Sullivan, J. Good. Subs: G. Kingston for Lynch (51); K. Corrigan for C. McGuinness (57).
M. White; D. Collins, D. Duggan, C. Daly; O. Gately, V. Hurley, S. McCarthy; K. Moloney, G. Moloney; T. Collins, J. O’Neill, D. Lordan; S. Moloney, S. Nyhan, S. Holland. Subs: S. Hayes for Holland (ht); S. Óg Gately for O’Neill (50); B. Collins for Collins (54).
Joe Larkin (Douglas).