Having led 1-12 to 1-4 at half-time, the Rathcormac side scored five of the first six points in the second half to move 12 clear and leave the outcome beyond doubt.
The seeds were sown in an excellent first-half performance, where they were on top in all sectors and only an early Youghal goal kept them in the contest.
Barry Johnson finished with 1-8 and, while there was an air of good fortune to the goal, his dead-ball striking was flawless. Brian Murphy dealt well with the challenge of Bill Cooper while Richard Whitty contributed five points from play and Michael Collins and Daniel Dooley buzzed with menace in attack. Shane Walsh and Ryan Prendergast were prominent in defence too so little wonder, then, that Bride manager Joe Delaney hailed the display. “We’re very happy with that result,” he said. “We prepared well for it and the form was good. A lot of aspects of the first half were very pleasing, we wouldn’t be overly happy with the second-half performance but that’s something to work on for Tuesday.”
The victors had 1-1 on the board after three minutes. Johnson opened the scoring with a 65 and then William Finnegan found him with a pass, allowing for a delivery inside. Collins was the intended target but, while he didn’t get a touch, he left keeper Ritchie Cunningham sufficiently unsighted that the ball ended up in the net.
However, when Youghal replied with an Ollie Dempsey free and then Alan Frahill-O’Connor’s excellent pass found James O’Mahony who set up Cooper to finish.
A thrilling encounter looked in store, but Bride took over. It was 1-7 to 1-2 by the 22nd minute before Brendan Ring got Youghal’s third point but the Rovers couldn’t be stopped and Collins made it 1-10 to 1-3 in injury time. A Ring free – after a sideline was upgraded for a Bride infringement – might have sent Youghal in with confidence but Johnson’s fourth point, a free from halfway, left eight in it at the interval.
“We always pride ourselves on the workrate but the performance was very good,” Delaney said. “We have great hurlers and we’re trying to mix it all together,
There was no altering of the flow of the game on the resumption and Bride might have had a second goal as Collins touched a Johnson delivery home but a free out was awarded.
Youghal’s best chance of a goal came from Dempsey – relocated from centre-back to full-forward – but he shot over.
Johnson and Whitty had Bride’s final points as they led by 1-21 to 1-10 as the game moved past the 60-minute mark. Cooper, with his third, and Ring (fifth) replied while Andrew Curtin had the last score. In other years, a first-round win would have alleviated any relegation fears, but the change in format means it’s not a consideration. In any case, Delaney is keen to make the point that Bride’s sights are higher, with Avondhu next.“We’d have aspirations ourselves,” he said. We beat Bishopstown in the first round last year and then lost to the Glen, we’d have no complaints because they really outworked us. The one thing we really tried to work on this year is that we wouldn’t be outworked. We didn’t take into account the whole relegation thing, we were just looking at ourselves and what we could achieve. I went to see Avondhu and Ballymartle in our own place a couple of weeks ago, Avondhu knocked over some fine scores and I’ve no doubt they’ll be a test in a couple of weeks.”
B. Johnson 1-8 (5 frees, 2 65s); R. Whitty 0-5; D. Dooley 0-3 (1 free); M. Collins 0-2; S. Glasgow, W. Finnegan, S. Walsh 0-1 each.
B. Ring 0-6 (4 frees), B. Cooper 1-3, O. Dempsey 0-2 (1 free), A. Curtin, B. Moloney 0-1 each.
D. Fitzgerald; R. Prendergast, D. Carr, S. Kearney; M. Kearney, B. Murphy, S. Walsh; J. Pratt, B. Johnson; W. Finnegan, S. Ryan, D. Dooley; M. Collins, S. Glasgow, R. Whitty.
M. Liddane for Kearney (41), S. O’Connor for Pratt (50), B. Walsh for S. Walsh (53), D.J. Cahill for Ryan (54).
R. Cunningham; Barry Ring, J. Grace, K. Walsh; A Frahill-O’Connor, O. Dempsey, M. Cronin; M. Farrell, B. Moloney; D. Ring, B. Cooper, A. Joyce; Brendan Ring, A. Curtin, J. O’Mahony.
B. McGrath for Farrell (18-22, blood), C. O’Mahony for Farrell (half-time, injured), McGrath for J. O’Mahony (44, injured), C. Hennessy for McGrath (56, injured).
C. Lyons (Nemo Rangers).