A strong, all-round performance from Duhallow in wet Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday evening, indicated their determination to get back to the Cork SFC final this year.
They lost by three points to St Finbarr’s in last season’s high-scoring decider.
However, there is still a lot of football to be played before they can start thinking of the October showdown with Newcestown to come in the semis.
Clonakilty’s good run has ended, on reflection they will agonize over on an inadequate first half that left them eight points behind at the interval.
Then again, they were up against a division where football is flourishing with the majority of their clubs still involved in the business end of their respective championships. The latter was a point not lost on Duhallow manager Pádraig Kearns.
“This time last year, Boherbue were the only team in the championship. This year all the clubs are still in, and Newmarket are also in the hurling. They are all out again next week playing championship and that is better than 10 training sessions with Duhallow. We have a serious panel and that is what we need to get back to where we stopped last year.
“Newcestown are our next objective. It is one game at a time. If we don’t beat Newcestown, we don’t get to a county final. Four years ago we played Newcestown and it was a one score game for most of it. They are a well drilled team and they are traditional footballers. If we don’t give them respect, we will be in trouble.”
Duhallow always had an edge despite the challenging conditions.
Once Eoghan McSweeney and Anthony O’Connor set up Daniel O’Connell for the opening point in the sixth minute, in response to a Ross Mannix free, they settled.
Anthony O’Connor’s goal, following an excellent crossfield delivery from Fintan O’Connor, arrived shortly afterward. Over the next 20 minutes, they kicked seven points without reply and all six forwards contributing. They looked unstoppable.
They were well-worked scores from Anthony O’Connor, Donncha O’Connor and Seamus Hickey, and there were two terrific points from McSweeney and Fintan O’Connor coming up to the break.
Clonakilty, meanwhile, registered their first point from play on the stroke of half time from Sean White. In stoppage, Mannix added his second free, and while the gap was 1-8 to 0-3, it gave them a sliver of hope.
And they did make an enthusiastic start to the second half with points from Mannix and Timmy Anglin, reducing the gap to six points – Anglin’s point could well have been a goal skimming over the bar.
When Duhallow got through for a second goal, the west Cork outfit left themselves with too much of a mountain to overcome. A sweeping move was finished to the net by Aidan Walsh. The goal put Duhallow 2-9 to 0-6 in front with a quarter of an hour to go.
Duhallow centre back Keelan Buckley received a black card, but such is the quality of their squad, he was replaced with little fuss by Alan Ryan. He fitted in seamlessly to a defensive unit that has ensured Patrick Doyle keep a clean sheet since emerging from the Colleges/Divisions section of this championship.
The sides traded six points each from there to the end as substitutes from both sides featured. Dave O’Regan bagged three for Clonakilty while Ian Walsh had a similar return for Duhallow – again highlighting Duhallow’s strength in depth.
A O’Connor (1-2, 0-1 free), A Walsh (1-1), I Walsh (0-3), F O’Connor and E McSweeney (0-2 each), P Walsh, D O’Connell, S Hickey, D O’Connor (free) and C O’Callaghan (0-1 each).
R Mannix (0-6, 0-5 frees), D O’Regan (0-3), T Anglin, S White and G Barry (0-1 each).
P Doyle (Knocknagree); J McLoughlin (Kanturk), B Daly (Newmarket), L O’Neill (Kanturk, Capt); K Cremin (Boherbue), K Buckley (Knocknagree), K Crowley (Millstreet); P Walsh (Kanturk), A Walsh (Kanturk); F O’Connor (Knocknagree), E McSweeney (Knocknagree), D O’Connell (Kanturk); A O’Connor (Knocknagree), S Hickey (Rockchapel), D O’Connor (Ballydesmond).
C O’Callaghan (Dromtarriffe) for D O’Connell (half-time), A Ryan (Newmarket) for K Buckley (39 BC), E O’Callaghan (Rockchapel) for B Daly (54), I Walsh (Kanturk) for D O’Connor (54), M Mahoney (Knocknagree) for A Walsh (57), B O’Connor (Newmarket) for E McSweeney (57).
M White; E Deasy, F Coughlan, M Shanley; L O’Donovan, T Clancy (Capt), D Murphy; D Lowney, S Nagle; S White, T Anglin, R Mannix; B Ridgeway, M Scally, J O’Mahony.
S McEvoy for S Nagle (25), D O’Regan for M Scally (40), G Barry for L O’Donovan (49), D Lyons for T Anglin (55).
David Murnane (Macroom).