In a tight affair in heavy conditions, Russell’s goal — brilliantly set up by Evan Ryle and Shane Kingston — opened up a five-point lead of 1-6 to 0-4. Prior to that, Clonakilty had set about trying to eradicate a 0-4 to 0-1 half-time deficit but ‘Roco’ were keeping them at arm’s length.
Aside from the endless industry of Ryle at midfield, James Holland in attack was the star turn for a Rochestown side which had to manage without Seán Powter and Eoghan O’Brien. Holland kicked five of their six points, including the vital two in the second-half when Clonakilty were threatening to fight back.
While Rochestown wouldn’t score after their goal, they did enough to frustrate Clon’s fightback efforts. Had the West Cork side’s brightest performer, centre-back Liam O’Donovan, not seen his effort come back off the crossbar immediately after Russell’s goal, they might have reeled in their opponents. But, in the final analysis, 12 wides — nine in the first-half — was a key factor in their failure to repeat last year’s semi-final appearance.
Though they were denied the outfield presence of Mark White, who started in goal as he wasn’t deemed fit enough to play midfield, the West Cork side created several chances playing against the wind in the first half but couldn’t build on the fifth-minute free by wing-back Liam O’Connor.
Instead, it was Rochestown — wearing Carrigaline jerseys due to the colour-clash, with Clon wearing the green and red of the town’s club — who kicked into gear, driven on by their large and vocal support.
Holland was really in the groove, from play and frees, and Ryle also stroked over a long-range effort to have them 0-4 to 0-1 in front by the 22nd minute. Clon’s wides tally was ever- increasing, but even so, a three-point interval deficit with the wind to come was a manageable proposition.
When Seán Ryan pointed within 20 seconds of the restart and David Mannix converted a long-range free soon after, Clon would have been seen as favourites, but another Holland free edged Rochestown clear again. O’Donovan reduced the gap once more after he began and ended a great counter-attacking move. However, Holland was on hand again, kicking his fifth after Ryle set him up.
Mannix might have had a goal for Clon but for a superb Donnchadh Murphy block — the full-back injured himself in the process — and the importance of that was magnified when Roco struck for theirs. Ryle set Shane Kingston away, the Cork hurler using his pace well to set up Russell and, though his shot took a deflection off David Kiely, it crept in.
Clon released White out the field as they chased the game and they did manage to get three points, Mannix with two while Kevin Keohane was also on target. A goal remained elusive, however, and Rochestown marched on to a last-four bout with CBS HS Clonmel, seeking revenge for the group-stage defeat to the same opposition.
J Holland 0-5 (two frees), C Russell 1-0, E Ryle 0-1.
R Mannix 0-3 (two frees), L O’Connor (free), L O’Donovan, K Keohane, S Ryan 0-1 each.
C Denn (St Michael’s); R Ó Colmáin (St Michael’s), D Murphy (Douglas), E Riordan (Carrigaline); D Stack (Carrigaline), N Walsh (Douglas), K O’Donovan (Nemo Rangers); N Quirke (Carrigaline), E Ryle (Carrigaline); S Collins (Douglas), M McAuliffe (Douglas), S Kingston (Douglas); J Holland (Douglas), C Cormack (St Michael’s), C Russell (Douglas).
L Grainger (St Michael’s) for Quirke (half-time), Quirke for Murphy (46, injured), J Golden (St Michael’s) for Riordan, S Hilliard (Cobh) for McAuliffe (both 57).
M White (Clonakilty); J Deasy (Kilmeen), D Kiely (Barryroe), P Daly (Clonakilty); L O’Connor (Clonakilty), L O’Donovan (Clonakilty); O Scannell (Kilmeen); S Scannell (Kilmeen), S Ryan (Ballinascarthy); G Crowley (Argideen Rangers), D Lowney (Clonakilty), K Keohane (Kilmeen); D Scannell (St Mary’s), E Lawton (Barryroe), R Mannix (Clonakilty).
S O’Donoghue (Clonakilty) for Lawton (42), R Brimble (Kilmeen) for Crowley (53), J O’Donovan (Kilmeen) for Mannix (60, injured).
D Kirwan (Éire Óg).