Bemoaning the loss of ‘two or three decent scoring chances’ before the break, Newcestown selector Tom Wilson agreed the goal was ‘the game changer.’ “We were hoping to get a goal, we got caught for a goal instead,” he said. “That was it. In a low-scoring, tough, tight game, a goal was always going to win it.”
For his part, Duhallow manager Ned English stressed the importance of substitutions made, commenting: “We brought on a couple of fresh legs and they definitely turned the game.” And, he remarked it was all the more pleasing in view of the challenge in preparing for the game.
“There is tremendous quality in the squad but it is so difficult to get them together. You had a very organised club side, a good side, against good players who probably need to do more. In the last eight days a lot of those players played four matches and two training sessions. We missed a few easy chances we should have taken and could have made it a little bit easier, but at the end we were finishing fairly strong.”
With scores tied five times up to the interval, it was noteworthy that Newcestown only fell behind twice, in the 12th and 25th minutes, during a period when they showed slightly greater attacking flair, with the experienced Cathrach Keane regularly involved. And, his brother Fionn was also prominent around a midfield area in which both partnerships shared periods of supremacy.
Duhallow benefited from the inclusion of Donncha O’Connor, who had been rated doubtful (and they were also to gain from the introduction of Aidan Walsh 10 minutes into the second-half).
Overall, their attack found it hard at stages to penetrate, despite the promptings of Daniel Scannell in the right corner and the efforts of Jerry O’Connor on the wing. And, at the other end, Newcestown captain Martin O’Brien notably found it hard to make openings against Kealan Buckley. Scannell had the misfortune to miss a goal chance in the 13th minute when he kicked wide across the face of the goal under pressure and full-forward Seamus Hickey missed an even better chance a few minutes later when he was put through by Donncha O’Connor but opted to put the ball over the bar.
That had the divisional side ahead but a Daniel Twomey point from a free in the 25th minute had the teams level at 0-5 each. But, it could have been a different story at half-time had not the Duhallow ‘keeper Niall O’Connor made a vital save from Tadhg Twomey.
Twice more, in the 36th and 45th minutes, scores were again tied and, while the game remained evenly balanced, Newcestown were less threatening in attack, thanks to a combination of strong defending and a slow-down in the amount of ball being played in.
Gradually, Duhallow began to assert themselves more and while Aidan Walsh wasn’t involved very often, his use of possession was influential. Donnacha O’Connor’s greater impact featured two pointed frees and clever distribution, as when he set up David Scannell for the goal in the 49th minute, the initial opening coming from the impressive Scannell.
With a misdirected clearance gifting a fourth point to Jerry O’Connor in the 53rd minute, the outcome was effectively decided and a gallant Newcestown, once more challenged by juggling between hurling and football, simply lacked the strength to save the game. Daniel Twomey pointed two frees but the divisional side countered with three late scores and could have had a second goal.
D. Scannell (1-2); J. O’Connor (0-4); D. O’Connor (0-2 frees); J. Corkery, A. O’Connor and S. Hickey (0-1 each).
D. Twomey (0-5, 4 frees); T. Twomey, C. Keane, L. Meade and J. Curran (0-1 each).
N. O’Connor (Newmarket); J. McLoughlin (Kanturk, capt.), E. O’Callaghan (Rockchapel), P. Gayer (Castlemagner); A.J. O’Connor (Kiskeam), K. Buckley (Knocknagree), A. Ryan (Newmarket); S. O’Sullivan (Dromtarriffe), J. Corkery (Boherbue); D. Gayer (Castlemagner), D. O’Connor (Ballydesmond), J. Ryan (Newmarket); D. Scannell (Kiskeam), S. Hickey (Rockchapel), J. O’Connor (Knocknagree).
A. O’Connor (Knocknagree) for J. Ryan (35); A. Walsh for Corkery (inj. 38); A. Carroll for O’Sullivan (53).
C. White; G. Murphy, J. Crowley, M. McSweeney; J. Curran, C. Twomey, J. Desmond; F. Keane, M. Kelly, L. Meade, M. O’Brien (capt.), E. Kelly; D. Twomey, T. Twomey. C. Keane.
O. Keane for Murphy (half-time).
J. Ryan (Macroom).