A 110-day lay-off greeted Bishopstown’s opening day win over the Skibbereen outfit in early May; O’Donovan Rossa, meanwhile, returning inside the whitewash three-weeks later for their second round fixture.
Even their round 4 clash against Beara on the second weekend of August arrived a fortnight earlier than Bishopstown’s second outing of the summer. And aside from the obvious momentum garnered by travelling successfully through the backroads, Crowley was afforded the opportunity to test the corrective surgery embarked on in the wake of that 2-14 to 2-11 first round loss to the city club.
Of the starting 15 that took to the field at Dunmanway, only six players lined out in the positions they held during that May 4 encounter — two changes in personnel and nine positional switches rung.
“The pressure was on Bishopstown here as it is much tougher to beat a team second time around,” said Crowley. “You learn a lot in defeat. We thought we learned a lot in the first round. We didn’t work hard enough whereas Bishopstown were very fluid around the middle. We learned to fill the middle with guys who can swap positions quite easily.
“The problem with the county championship is that you can lose your first round and stay in championship mode. Bishopstown, on the other hand, had a big gap.
“In hindsight, it was a big advantage to us. It was an advantage to lose that game because we were able to shorten our summer. We are on a good roll now and we want to keep it going.”
Though their first-half advantage of 1-7 to 0-5 was rapidly eaten into by Bishopstown’s 1-2 inside the opening three minutes of the second-half, it was O’Donovan Rossa’s confident and composed response that cleared the path to a first semi-final appearance since 2012.
Ahead by five at the break — Thomas Hegarty delivering the goal inside the opening four minutes — O’Donovan Rossa were rocked by a Paul Honohan green flag 23 seconds after the restart.
The half-forward’s initial shot cannoned off the crossbar and although Fiachra Ó Deasunaigh’s follow-up was smothered by a swarm of white jerseys, Honohan blasted his second attempt into the corner of Ryan Price’s goal.
Ó Deasunaigh (free) and the hard-working Conor Dorman added two white flags in quick succession to tie proceedings.
A Conor McCarthy wide from distance after several phases of lateral hand-passing highlighted the renewed vigour and reorganisation in the Bishopstown defence, though the Skibbereen ship was settled by a Donal Óg Hodnett point on 38 minutes.
Dorman teed up Honohan in the subsequent action to again level matters, the last occasion a stalemate was had.
On 40 minutes Bishopstown were cut adrift. Hodnett supplied the delivery and while Ken O’Halloran should have been far more assertive in advancing from his goal-line, credit here to the courage of Rob Long who fisted to the net — 2-8 to 1-8 they now led.
Honohan provided the Bishopstown response, but they would add to their tally once more in the closing 20 minutes. The O’Donovan Rossa defence, led by Mark Collins, Paddy Nealon, and Daniel Hazel, threw up the shutters and locked the door. Indeed, the failure of the Bishopstown full-forward line to register a single point from open play said it all.
At the other end, David Shannon (0-3), Hodnett, Kevin Davis (free), and sub Richie Hodnett ensured comfortable progression to the penultimate round.
“The most pleasing part was when we conceded an early second-half goal and two points to bring them back level, the lads responded fantastically,” Crowley said.
“I would never question the character of this team, and when the work-rate is there too we are a damn good team. That was a big test there. If Bishopstown had got another goal, our backs would have been against the wall. We responded. We got a lucky enough goal ourselves. It was bravery out of Rob Long. We kicked on after that.”
T Hegarty (1-3); K Davis (0-4, 0-2 frees); R Long (1-0); D Shannon, D Óg Hodnett (0-3 each); R Hodnett, S Carmody (0-1 each).
P Honohan (1-3); F Ó Deasunaigh (0-2 frees), C Dorman (0-2 each); B Coffey (free), D O’Donovan (free), D O’Connor (0-1 each).
R Price; J O’Sullivan, P Nealon, E Nealon; M Collins, C McCarthy, D Hazel; D Óg Hodnett, S Carmody; S O’Brien, K Davis, P Crowley; T Hegarty, D Shannon, R Long.
C Crowley for O’Brien (41 mins), R Hodnett for P Crowley (60).
K O’Halloran; R Ryan, E Byrne, N O’Donovan; D Lester, M Power, J O’Sullivan; M O’Driscoll, C Dorman; D O’Connor, B Coffey, P Honohan; J McLoughlin, F Ó Deasunaigh, S Oakes.
J O’Shea for McLoughlin (24 mins), D Crowley for Coffey (half-time) D O’Donovan for Ryan (37), P Cronin for O’Driscoll (54).
P O’Leary (Kiskeam).