The battle between the junior hurling champions of the last two years went the way of 14-man Cloughduv in the first round of the Cork IHC at Páirc Uí Rinn last night.
The Cork and Munster junior titleholders from 2018 were grateful for the accuracy of free-taker Brian Verling, who finished the hour with an impressive tally of 10 points.
There was high drama at the end, with St Catherine’s Brian Mulcahy having his shot saved by goalkeeper Jonathan Buckley as the Imokilly men went in search of the winning score.
In the first-half, during which the teams were deadlocked five times, St Catherine’s moved two ahead, 0-6 to 0-4, after 20 minutes.
Four placed efforts from Shane O’Brien (who totalled nine points) kept the St Catherine’s scoreboard ticking over, while Verling was equally reliable for the mid Cork side.
The only goal chance in that period was created by Richard Galvin for St Catherine’s, but he was excellently blocked by Paul O’Sullivan, with O’Brien making no mistake from the resultant ’65.
Eight minutes from half-time, Cloughduv were dealt a blow, when defender Eoghan Clifford received a red card for a foul on Pa Roche.
Verling and O’Brien exchanged points, but the Muskerry side weren’t unnerved by the numerical disadvantage, clipping the next four points unanswered, Verling hitting three.
Dan Mangan’s second point in first-half injury time left the interval score 0-9 to 0-8 in favour of Cloughduv.
Five minutes into the second-half and the sides were level once more, Mulcahy tying matters 10 points apiece.
Again, St Catherine’s had another goal opportunity from Richard Galvin, but as he was about to fire the trigger he was brilliantly denied by Mark Verling. At the end of the third period, Cloughduv had their noses in front, 0-13 to 0-12.
In spite of constant pressure from St Catherine’s and, with at least four minutes of added time announced, they just about managed to hold on in the fourth quarter, out-hitting their opponents by four points to three.
Scorers for Cloughduv:
B Verling (0-10, 0-7 frees), D Corkery (0-2), D O’Sullivan, M Walsh, A Murphy, M Verling and J Ryan (0-1 each).
Scorers for St Catherine’s:
Shane O’Brien (0-9, 0-6 frees, 0-3 65s), D Mangan and B Mulcahy (0-2 each), K Neville and B O’Brien (0-1 each).
J Buckley; J Moynihan, B Ahern, P O’Sullivan; D O’Leary, E Clifford, D O’Sullivan; M Walsh, B Hinchion; A Cronin, A Murphy, M Verling (Capt); B Verling, J Ryan, D Corkery.
L Kelleher for A Cronin (half-time), P Buckley for D O’Leary (53), K Barry Murphy for D Corkery (56), G Ahern for P O’Sullivan (60).
E Davis; E Wallace, L O’Connor, J Neville; C Hegarty (Capt), D Lonergan, S Cotter; Shane O’Brien, C Kearney; D Mangan, B Mulcahy, N O’Regan; Richard Galvin, Rory Galvin, P Roche.
K Neville for L O’Connor (5 inj), B O’Brien for P Roche (half-time), Stephen O’Brien for E Wallace (32), T O’Donnell for N O’Regan (48), P Keane for S Cotter (51).
Ciarán O’Regan (Ballyhea).