Champions St Finbarr’s opened their Cork SFC defence with an emphatic victory over Clyda Rovers at Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday with new manager Paul O’Keeffe, following in the winning footsteps of former boss Ray Keane, well happy with his players for a job well done.
O’Keeffe came in with a wealth of experience, having worked alongside Billy Morgan in UCC’s Sigerson Cup success, and his well-drilled charges produced all the magic to see off the Mourneabbey men with maximum efficiency.
O’Keeffe wasn’t over jubilant afterwards, but at the same time, you could still sense his delight.
“If you want to be hyper-critical, it wasn’t our best performance when you compare it to league form. Some of our option taking at times wasn’t the greatest, we had a lot of wides, but we are a work in progress, we don’t want to peak at this time of the season.
“We had nine different scorers and that is pleasing. Stephen Sherlock was on song. We might have been fortunate with two of our goals but we were well in control of the match.”
And what about the new goalkeeper Patrick O’Neill? “We are delighted to have got Patrick between the posts. We sprung one from Tyrone, he is playing and training well with us. He made a super save in the first half and you could say we stole a march on other clubs who would have loved to sign him.
“Look, our objective was to get over the first round, we did that, job done, it opens up the summer for us now. We’re very happy. We put up a good score, job done.”
From the moment wing back Colin Lyons raced through for a cracking point after only nine seconds the Barr’s had their tails up and went on to play some fine open football.
Clyda’s hopes weren’t made any easier when they lost big midfielder Dan O’Callaghan after only two minutes with what looked a serious leg injury as the Barr’s, with some stellar displays from Lyons, Sherlock Ian Maguire, Enda Dennehy, and Eoghan McGreevy led 0-4 to 0-0 after the opening quarter thanks to further points from Maguire and a brace from Sherlock.
Clyda’s best chance fell to Conor Flanagan in the 13th minute but his shot was excellently saved by the new Barr’s addition between the posts O’Neill.
Ronan Flanagan finally got Clyda on the scoresheet in the 17th minute but it was only token resistance as first Sherlock fired over a super free from the left wing and then disaster for Clyda — an attempted short kick out by keeper Elliott Sheehan fell to Eoghan McGreevy and the corner-forward sweetly lobbed the keeper.
Game over really now as some sweet kicking by Sherlock had the Barr’s 1-8 to 0-2 clear at the break.
Ronan Flanagan got Clyda’s third point in the 32nd minute and immediately Clyda keeper Sheehan made amends for his goal blunder with a class save from Sherlock. But there was no stopping a rampant Barr’s who hit their second goal in the 37th minute, Maguire’s delicious sideline kick met by Colm Keane for a cracking goal.
Leading 2-9 to 0-3 entering the final quarter there was no let up by the Barr’s. Conor Flanagan did get Clyda’s fourth point with a free but with Sherlock on fire — a tasty seven-point contribution — and Alan O’Connor getting a third Barr’s goal in the 57th minute, Clyda were a well-beaten side despite getting the final two points from Paul Cronin and a Conor Flanagan free.
No question the champions are happy campers. For Clyda a lot of work to be done for they were never able to retain possession long enough to trouble a hard-working Barr’s who were on top of their game.
Scorers for St. Finbarr’s: S. Sherlock (0-7, 4 frees), E. McGreevy, C. Keane and A. O’Connor (1-0 each), C. Lyons, I. Maguire, C. Dennehy, E. Comyns, D. O’Brien (0-1 each).
Scorers for Clyda Rovers: C. Flanagan (0-3, 2 frees), R. Flanagan (0-2, 1 free), P. Cronin (0-1).
ST. FINBARR’S: P. O’Neill; S. Ryan, J. Burns, A. O’Connor; C. Lyons, G. O’Connor; D. Quinn; I. Maguire, E. Comyns; C. Keane, S. Sherlock, E. Dennehy; E. McGreevy, R. O’Mahony, C. Dennehy.
Subs: D. O’Brien for Keane (BS 9mins), C. Scully for O’Connor (ht), D. O’Brien for O’Mahony (38), O’Connor for Comyns (53).
CLYDA ROVERS: E. Sheehan; S. Ronayne, R. Carey, C. Kenny; J. Buckley, P. Kissane, M. Forde; C. Flanagan, D. O’Callaghan; D. Buckley, C. Kelly, D. Walsh; S. Ronayne, P. Cronin, R. Flanagan.
Subs: R. Willis for O’Callaghan (2), C. Buckley for J. Buckley (38), B. O’Connor for Ronayne (38).
Referee: B. Coniry (Crosshaven).