They got nothing easy from Muskerry in a freezing cold Páirc Uí Rinn tonight, yet UCC pulled away in the second-half of this Colleges/Divisions tie. And having already accounted for Cork IT last week, they now join the clubs in the Cork Senior Hurling Championship.
The contest swung in their favour early in the second-half when, following two-goals in quick succession – both from frees struck by Shane Conway and Chris O’Leary – UCC never looked back. That was after trailing at the break by three points – Muskerry having played really well in the first-half.
Wind-assisted, the mid Cork side who were without county defender Sean O’Donoghue, took the battle to their opponents. The had posted three unanswered points on the board inside the opening five minutes and approaching the quarter hour juncture, the advantage was pushed out to 0-6 to 0-2. Sean Bourke, who was unerring from frees and closed with 10 of his side’s tally, got four.
UCC, with Limerick’s National League winner Paddy O’Loughlin lining out at midfield, went on to score the next three points from Michael Devine, Dara Walsh and O’Leary. But they were lucky not to concede a goal only for Mark Verling’s finish to fly wide of the post.
The students drew level seven points apiece, but a flurry of late points by Bourke (2), Declan Hanlon and Verling put Muskerry into the ascendancy at the short whistle, 0-11 to 0-8. Devine could have had the first goal but an outstanding save by Paul Hallissey kept his team three points in front.
Three minutes into the second-half, the complexion of the game changed when Conway rifled a close-in free to the roof of the net. The shot, which went in off the post, appeared to deceive the players who had the sun in their eyes. Similarly, a minute later, O’Leary’s free from distance went all the way to the net. Conway and O’Leary added quick points and all of a sudden, the scoreboard read 2-9 to 0-12.
UCC lost David Griffin to a head injury, but it didn’t upset their momentum. His replacement, Jack Hannon made an immediate impact, his point helping the College move into a clear six-point lead, 2-12 to 0-12, coming near the midway stage of the second-half.
Muskerry remained in the hunt courtesy of three Bourke frees, whilst Jack Barry had to be at his best to deny Peter Kelleher. It was a let off for UCC and they capitalised hitting the next three points – all from play from Neil Montgomery, Adam Creed and Mark Coleman. A bit more breathing space again, 2-15 to 0-15.
UCC completed the job outscoring Muskerry two points to one, while Barry produced another vital save, this time repelling a shot by Bourke from close range.
C O’Leary (1-2 frees, 0-1 65) and S Conway (1-3 frees) (1-4 each), N Montgomery (0-3), M Coleman (0-2), M Devine, D Walsh, J Hannon and A Creed (0-1 each).
S Bourke (0-10 frees), D Hanlon (0-3), M Verling (0-2), M Bradley (0-1).
(Cork unless stated) J Barry (Castlelyons); E Clifford (Cloughduv), D Lowney (Clonakilty), N O’Leary (Castlelyons); C O’Leary (Valley Rovers, Capt), C Power (Blarney), D Griffin (Carrigaline); M Coleman (Blarney), P O’Loughlin (Kilmallock, Limerick); M Devine (Mondeligo, Waterford), B Kelleher (Carrigaline), D Walsh (Éire Óg Ennis, Clare); S Conway (Lixnaw, Kerry), S Hayes (Mallow), N Montgomery (Abbeyside, Waterford).
A Creed (Fermoy) for S Hayes (25), J Hannon (St Joseph’s Doora Barefield, Clare) for D Griffin (37 inj), J Ryan (Doon, Limerick) for B Kelleher (52), T Millerick (Fr O’Neill’s) for M Devine (55), K Walsh (Ballincollig) for C Power (60).
P Hallissey (Blarney); R O’Donovan (Ballincollig), J Mullins (Éire Óg), L Ryan (Inniscarra); C O’Leary (Inniscarra), D Hanlon (Blarney), A Murphy (Cloughduv); R Murphy (Blarney), R Bourke (Ballincollig); M Verling (Cloughduv), M Bradley (Aghabullogue), S Bourke (Grenagh, Capt); K Murphy (Ballinora), P Kelleher (Kilmichael), O McCarthy (Inniscarra).
P Philpott (Blarney) for A Murphy (13 inj), I Barry Murphy (Aghabullogue) for O McCarthy (half-time), B Hurley (Éire Óg) for K Murphy (49), C Sexton (Ballincollig) for R Bourke (57 inj), M O’Riordan (Dripsey) for P Kelleher (60 inj).
Cathal McAllister (Aghada).