Inspired by Danny O’Callaghan and backboned by five members of the Cork intermediate team, the Carrigdhoun side displayed many of the attributes that may see them make a swift return to senior ranks.
While the forwards will grab the headlines, it was the performance of O’Callaghan and the solidity of the Blues’ half backline that launched their second-half offensive and a return of 2-11 (2-10 from play) on the scoreboard.
Donncha Donovan, Michael Aherne and Stephen Sheehan worked brilliantly as a unit and provided the launch-pad for much of what was positive in Ballinhassig’s play.
Up front Cork goalkeeper, Patrick Collins gave an exhibition of high-fielding and marksmanship from the full-forward line, and the 18-year-old was aided superbly by a free-scoring Blues forward unit in which Brendan and Richard Lombard, Danny O’Callaghan, Colin Reynolds and Fintan O’Leary all excelled.
Castlelyons stayed with their opponents up to half-time, when Ballinhassig led 2-6 to 0-9, but despite the best efforts of Colm Barry and Colm and Anthony Spillane, the Imokilly outfit could not respond. Blues manager, John O’Sullivan jnr., said afterwards: “We’d a very good second-half. We went in at half time confident enough but not overly confident. Castlelyons played a lot of good hurling. There is a lot of potential in this team who can express themselves when they want, but they need to be on their game and far enough ahead to do that.”
The sides drew level three times inside the opening five minutes, Aidan O’Sullivan’s 55m strike near the sideline the pick of the six scores. However, Castlelyons suffered a setback in the seventh minute. The otherwise dependable Jack Barry was too casual when trying to collect a mishit shot by Fintan O’Leary. When the ball spilt to Patrick Collins, the teenager goaled powerfully from close range.
Despite this, the east Cork men responded in some style, rattling off four unanswered points through Michael Spillane, Anthony Spillane (2) and Alan Fennell and were two ahead in the 19th minute when Anthony Spillane nailed his side’s ninth point. That proved to be Castlelyons’ only period of dominance before Ballinhassig discovered another level to their play. Firstly Brendan Lombard pulled from close-range to the net and, with Castlelyons wasting some good chances, Ballinhassig proved far more economical in front of goal with Collins landing the final two points before the break to leave it stand 2-6 to 0-9.
On the turnover Ballinhassig lifted their game and with O’Callaghan inspiring his teammates from midfield where Michael Collins also starred and the half backline battening down the hatches, Castlelyons had little in reserve to the Blues’ onslaught.
Timmy McCarthy was introduced at half-time but the former Cork senior was starved of possession due in the main to his marker, Eddie Finn, and the Blues’ impenetrable halfback line.
By the three-quarter mark Collins had sent his side into a 2-11 to 0-11 lead and two goals in the 51st and 53rd minutes from Richard Lombard and Colin Reynolds saw Ballinhassig move into a comfortable 4-15 to 0-12 lead entering the closing stages Colm Spillane pulled first time from 20m to the net in the 56th minute, but Ballinhassig replied with two from Reynolds and O’Leary.
Castlelyon’s day ended on a sour note with Alan Fenton red-carded for an off-the-ball offence.
P Collins (1-4, 1 free); C Reynolds (1-3); B Lombard and R Lombard (1-1 each); F O’Leary (0-4); D Donovan (0-2, 1 free); M Collins and D O’Callaghan (0-1 each).
A Spillane (0-7, 4 frees); C Spillane (1-1); A O’Sullivan, M Spillane, A Fenton and J O’Leary (0-1 each).
M Coleman; B Coleman, E Finn (capt.), M Desmond; D Donovan, M Aherne, S Sheehan; S McCarthy, M Collins; C Reynolds, D O’Callaghan, F O’Leary; P Collins, B Lombard, D O’Sullivan.
R Lombard for O’Sullivan (26).
J Barry; B Carroll, C Barry, T Carroll; L Sexton, C Spillane, P Mahon; R Feeney, A O’Sullivan; R Bransfield, A Spillane, N O’Leary; A Fenton, S Moroney, M Spillane.
T McCarthy for Moroney (h-t); J O’Leary for Feeney (36); D Sexton for Bransfield (46).
M Maher (St. Finbarr’s)