Newtownshandrum produced the shock of the Cork SHC at Mourneabbey on Saturday as last season’s semi-finalists and 2017 finalists Blackrock crashed out.
Perhaps it was not so surprising to the north Cork club itself — after all, this is the team that put six goals past Newcestown a week earlier.
Returning to the venue where they were edged out by Bishopstown on their opening day in April, they were deserving winners this time.
Tim O’Mahony (despite carrying a leg injury) and ace free-taker Jamie Coughlan were magnificent once more — the battled-hardened duo scoring 1-18 between them.
Blackrock were level at the interval, but they couldn’t match Newtownshandrum’s insatiable will to win. When Andrew Murphy received a second yellow card 10 minutes from time, it was a massive setback.
“Huge passion,” said Newtownshandrum selector and former player Pat Mulcahy. “They are very young, good young kids. We have three of four minors, about seven or eight U21. But they have character in abundance.
In terms of injury, we took a lot of hits. We had to put Tim in full forward as he got a dead leg in the first five minutes, while Cormac O’Brien got a slap in the head. Conor Twomey, our captain, went off with concussion, but we just had to battle.
“Tim was phenomenal in the second half, and on one leg. He is probably a bit disappointed the way things went with Cork this year. He is a massive talent. He is a guy you want coming down the stretch in a tight game.
“Jamie Coughlan is truly gifted. He is just an exceptional talent. He was corner-forward, came out midfield when Tim went in. His temperament is fantastic. Jamie, at his best — Patrick Horgan is probably the only other forward in Cork in comparison to Jamie.”
Six points was a fair reflection of Newtownshandrum’s superiority as they march on to the quarter-final.
Even when Daniel Meaney slammed home an early goal, wind-assisted Newtownshandrum didn’t panic. Twenty minutes in and deadlocked at 1-6 to 0-9, Coughlan, John Geary, Twomey, Sean Griffin, Cormac O’Brien, and David O’Connor were all on target. Blackrock could have had a second goal, but James Bowles stopped Shane O’Keeffe.
Newtownshandrum then took the lead courtesy of Coughlan. The joy was short-lived however, as points from Alan Connolly, Michael O’Halloran, and Ciarán Cormack left Blackrock two up. The Avondhu men went to the dressing room tied 1-10 to 0-13, thanks to O’Mahony and Coughlan.
Coughlan fired over four frees on the restart, as the Newtown rearguard played their part and at the other end.
Their dominance told on the scoreboard, 0-18 to 1-12 midway through the half.
A heavily-strapped O’Mahony was making his presence felt at the edge of the square. Blackrock were grateful to David O’Shea for a fantastic point-blank save from him, but it wasn’t long before O’Mahony soon beat him. Trailing 1-20 to 1-14, Blackrock went down to 14 men.
The Rockies got a goal back when Shane O’Keeffe’s quick free found the net. At the other end, O’Connor nearly had a second Newtownshandrum goal, only for O’Shea again.
There was no let-up from tireless Newtownshandrum, with scores from O’Mahony and Coughlan, who supplied all of their second-half 1-15, seeing them safely home.
Scorers for Newtownshandrum:
J Coughlan (0-13, 0-10 frees, 0-1 65, 0-1 sl), T O’Mahony (1-5), J Geary (0-2), C O’Brien, C Twomey, D O’Connor, S Griffin and C Griffin (0-1 each).
Scorers for Blackrock:
M O’Halloran (0-6, 0-3 frees), S O’Keeffe (1-2, 1-0 free), D Meaney (1-0), T Deasy (0-2), D O’Farrell, A Connolly, G O’Regan, S Murphy, C Cormack and J O’Sullivan (0-1 each).
J Bowles; J O’Mahony, M Ryan, K O’Sullivan; D Guiney, T O’Mahony, D Hawe; C O’Brien, C Twomey (Capt); C Griffin, D O’Connor, J Lane; S Griffin, J Geary, J Coughlan.
K Coughlan for C O’Brien (15-21 bs), P O’Sullivan for D Hawe (half-time), J Twomey for S Griffin (43), D Stack for C Twomey (49 inj), M Thompson for J Geary (62), K Coughlan for J Lane (62 inj).
D O’Shea; J Cashman, G Norberg, J Ryan; N Cashman (Capt), A O’Callaghan, A Murphy; D O’Farrell, D Meaney; S O’Keeffe, J O’Sullivan, M O’Halloran; A Connolly, C Cormack, T Deasy.
K O’Keeffe for A Connolly (44), G O’Regan for C Cormack (44), S Murphy for D O’Farrell (55).
Simon Stokes (Tullylease).