Ballymartle saw off Bishops-town in this round 3 replay of the Cork SHC at Páirc Uí Rinn last night, and it was another close affair until the winners pulled away in the final quarter.
Having said that, it was still a three-point game with normal time elapsed. As the watch ticked into overtime, tight defending in those closing moments was as crucial as the injury-time points scored by Patrick Dwyer and Daniel O’Leary.
A low-scoring encounter it might have been, but every player still hurled hard.
“It was an incredibly tough game for us,” said Ballymartle coach Brian Barry.
“We did very little training all week since the drawn match, we just asked the players to come out and perform and to be fair to them, they did.
“The physicality was unbelievable and it was very defensive. That is the way the game of hurling is gone, even though we didn’t try to get defensive. Bishopstown put an extra defender back which meant we had a spare man in our backs.”
Ballymartle led by one point at half-time, and they looked that bit sharper in the second half. They also had Rickard Cahalane back after spending a couple of months in the US, and when introduced just before the break to replace the injured Michael Tobin, he blended in well.
There was nothing between the team in the opening period. Bishopstown were off the mark first with the Murray brothers, Thomas and Brian, notching a point each. Eoghan O’Leary and Brian Corry hit points to level, before Sean O’Mahony made it 0-3 to 0-2 after 10 minutes.
Bishopstown pointed through Brian Murray after he was put through by Diarmuid Lester, and they were tied once more when Brian Corry and Thomas Murray exchanged flags. Ballymartle swept over a further two points — both Darren McCarthy frees.
Thomas Murray then registered his third point in the 26th minute which was to be the final score of the half. After an uneventful 30 minutes which neither team dominated, Bishopstown, who had a lot of the ball but hit too many wides, trailed 0-5 to 0-6.
In keeping with the pattern of the first half, Thomas Murray levelled proceedings soon after the resumption, and they were deadlocked twice more by the 40th minute. Patrick Cronin, who is still recovering from a hand injury, came into the fray for Bishopstown and when he snaffled a point, it was 0-8 apiece.
Slowly but surely, Bally-martle started to get on top. A run of unanswered points from Darren McCarthy (3 frees), Jamie Dwyer (2) and Cahalane pushed the lead out to six points. They were also getting the better of some of the key battles and it looked like the game was getting away from Bishopstown.
However, Cronin, Thomas Murray (free) and Brian Murray clipped over points and the ’Town brought the margin back to three with the 60 minutes up. They needed a goal, though, and despite fierce pressure on the Ballymartle back line, the victors did really well to keep them out.
Those late points from Patrick Dwyer and O’Leary ensured they held on for victory.
D McCarthy (0-6 frees), B Corry, P Dwyer and J Dwyer (0-2 each), E O’Leary, S O’Mahony, R Cahalane and D O’Leary (0-1 each).
T Murray (0-6, 0-5 frees, 0-1 65m), B Murray (0-3), P Cronin (0-2).
Declan McCarthy; D Edmonds, M Tobin, C Coleman; E Healy, S Corry, G Webb; C Allen, S O’Mahony; E O’Leary, B Corry, P Dwyer; B Dwyer, P Geary, Darren McCarthy.
R Cahalane for M Tobin (29 inj), J Dwyer for P Geary (40), S Cummins for B Dwyer, D O’Leary for S O’Mahony (both 60).
K O’Halloran; S O’Rourke, M Driscoll, D Lester; S O’Neill, K O’Driscoll, R Ryan; J O’Sullivan, C Hegarty; B Murray, E Byrne, M Power; E McCarthy, A O’Sullivan, T Murray.
C O’Driscoll for A O’Sullivan (25), B Lane for E McCarthy (half-time), P Cronin for S O’Rourke (40), B Coffey for C O’Driscoll (52).
Cathal McAllister (Aghada).