Kilworth will hope it can be a case of third time lucky against Fr O’Neills after they moved past Inniscarra in today’s Cork PIHC semi-final at Páirc Uí Rinn.
Last year, the North Cork side’s hopes were ended by O’Neills at the quarter-finals, while the year before that they lost out to the Ballymacoda/Ladysbridge side in the third round.
Now they will contest the final after Kilworth built on a one-point half-time lead. Jamie Sheehan’s goal just before the break was a key score for the victors as it sent them in leading by 2-6 to 0-11, with Inniscarra unable to regain the lead thereafter.
Kilworth boss Damien McNamara expected a tough encounter, and got one it, but he cited the importance of Sheehan’s goal, as well as a composed second-half display.
“Inniscarra were after beating three fair teams — Ballinhassig, Mallow, and Castlelyons — so we were under no illusions,” he said.
“We probably dropped off in the first half for five or 10 minutes, and the goal that Jamie got was vital, we’d have been going in three points down otherwise.
“At half time, we just spoke to the boys — calm and cool, like we have been all year. It was just about upping the work-rate and we knew the scores would come. We knew the wind wasn’t going to win anything for us.”
The wind was as much of a hindrance as a help in the first half, with the Mid-Cork side registering six wides to their opponents’ two.
While they led by 0-4 to 0-2 after a good Colm Casey point in the 11th minute, Kilworth hit the front as their primary dangerman, Noel McNamara, won a delivery from deep and used his pace to good effect before rattling a shot past John O’Keeffe and into the top corner of the net.
Despite that setback, Inniscarra — forced to start without Seán O’Donoghue and then losing David O’Keeffe — responded well as they scored six of the next eight points, Michael Coleman on song from frees, while Casey made his presence felt with two.
That surge had them 0-10 to 1-4 to the good by the 26th minute, but McNamara and Brian Tobin cut the deficit and things got worse for Inniscarra when centre-back John O’Callaghan was forced off injured.
Nevertheless, a well-worked score from Eddie O’Connor, set up by Michael O’Connell, looked like it would send them in with a two-point lead — only for Kilworth to strike for another goal in the second minute of injury time.
Noel McNamara was the provider on this occasion, with Jamie Sheehan the finisher. The lead was increased by McNamara on the resumption and though Inniscarra had a pair of points from O’Connor — who also drew a good save from Kieran Walsh — they would only add two more thereafter as Kilworth eased clear.
McNamara managed to find his groove, as he finished with 1-10.
Eoin Carey did well in a protective role in front of the half-back line, where Nathan Byrne stood out, while right half-forward Seán Keane continued to be a valuable aerial outlet.
While Inniscarra pressed for a goal in injury time to keep their hopes alive, Byrne was on hand to make a goal-line clearance following a scramble and Will Condon put the gloss on the victory with a fine point after a good catch.
N McNamara 1-10 (0-8 frees). J Sheehan 1-1, B Tobin 0-2, L Whelan, E Carey, W Condon 0-1 each.
M Coleman 0-6 (frees), C Casey 0-4, E O’Connor 0-3, A McCarthy 0-2.
K Walsh; M O’Connor, K Lane, M McNamara; N Byrne, D Twomey, A O’Hara; B Tobin, E McGrath; S Keane, L Whelan, N McNamara; J Sheehan, E Carey, W Condon.
P Moakley for O’Connor (47).
J O’Keeffe; J O’Sullivan, B O’Mahony, L Ryan; C O’Leary, J O’Callaghan, C Lombard; A McCarthy, M Coleman; D O’Keeffe, C Buckley, O McCarthy; E O’Connor, C Casey, M O’Connell.
S O’Mahony for O’Keeffe (15, injured), S Olden for O’Callaghan (30, injured), C Bennett for Buckley (49), P Holland for O’Connell (53), D Hughes for A McCarthy (59, injured).
B Murphy (Carrigtwohill).