Last year’s runners-up Newcestown left it late to secure their place in the quarter-final of the Cork Premier IHC in Páirc Uí Rinn yesterday.
With scores level five times up to the three-quarter stage, the game hung in the balance, until full-forward Eoin Kelly goaled 20 seconds into injury time and killed off the challenge of a gallant Blarney side.
While there was never much between the teams, Blarney had seized the initiative with a well-worked goal from midfielder Keith Costello eight minutes into the second half. But, while it was undoubtedly a psychological boost, it merely put them a single point ahead, and it was noteworthy that they never managed to go in front for the remainder of the contest.
Indeed, apart from a sixth-minute point by Barra O’Connell, the goal marked the only other time that Blarney enjoyed the lead.
Better balanced overall, Newcestown posed the bigger threat, with Cork panellist Luke Meade one of their more impressive players in attack. However, some poor finishing at stages prevented them from imposing their will on the play more substantially.
After scores were level for the third time in the 14th minute, Newcestown raised their standard to open up a five-point gap within eight minutes, with the stylish Meade to the forefront in the way he won possession and, with a few exceptions, used it productively. From a Blarney perspective, right corner-forward Colin Murphy was prominent at stages and two frees from Mark Coleman, who finished with seven points, saw Blarney trail by just two scores at the break, 0-9 to 0-7.
There was little change in the trend of the play on the resumption, with Newcestown maintaining their advantage until a key intervention by centre-forward O’Connell in the 38th minute, when he made the opening for Costello to goal. However, while it saw Blarney go in front, their lead lasted a mere four minutes before Meade scored after a determined break down the right flank and a perfect shot on the run.
After Eoin Kelly and Mark Cremin swapped points to tie scores for the last time in the 44th minute, Newcestown increased the pressure. But, as had happened at intervals in the course of running up a wides total of 13, they found it difficult to pull away again before Donal Twomey broke the deadlock with a well-struck 65 in the 49th minute.
In between, further scores from Jack Meade and Kelly, Coleman pointed a Blarney free and when he scored again in the 47th minute to narrow the gap to a point, there was the prospect of a recovery.
However, a lack of real scoring power handicapped them and after a superb Kelly point in the second last minute, Newcestown won control with his goal after hard-working Carthach Keane made the initial opening. And, following that, the clock was on their side.
E Kelly 1-5 (two frees), D Twomey 0-5 (two frees, one 65), L Meade 0-4, G Murphy, T Twomey (free), J Meade 0-1 each.
M Coleman (0-7, six frees), K Costello 1-0, C Murphy 0-2, M Cronin, D Dunlea, B O’Connell, C Forde 0-1 each.
K Kelly; G Murphy, J Crowley, M McSweeney; C O’Neill, J Desmond, F Keane; T Twomey, D Twomey; D Heffernan, C Keane, J Meade; L Meade, E Kelly, C Twomey.
C Dineen for C Twomey (43), S O’Donovan for Heffernan (57).
P Hallissey; J Barrett, P O’Leary, D Walsh; P Philpott, J Jordan, B Hurley; K Costello, M Cremin; D Dunlea, M Coleman, JD Good; C Murphy, B O’Connell, S Mulcahy.
R Murphy for Good, P O’Driscoll for Mulcahy (both half-time), C Forde for Cremin (57).
Nathan Wall (Carrigaline).