Sixteen points was the final winning margin as Newcestown produced an exceptional second half to see off Ilen Rovers in their Bon Secours Cork Premier SFC clash at Sam Maguire Park in Dunmanway on Saturday evening.
With Castlehaven and Carbery Rangers the sharks in the tank of the all-West Cork Group B, this was must-win for both sides while Newcestown’s upcoming hurling commitments will test their dual-player-laden squad.
Last year’s semi-finalists can be encouraged by this, however. Having had the better of the first half, they led by 0-9 to 0-3 as half-time approached. But a goal from a Seán O’Donovan penalty brought Ilen back into contention and two frees from sub Dan Mac Eoin on the restart left just a point in it. From there though, Newcestown reeled off an unanswered 3-8 to secure the points.
They had ten different scorers and some of their scores were brilliantly executed, wire-to-wire moves, illustrating the impact that coaches Colm and Brian O’Driscoll have had. While they had a let-off early on as Ilen’s Stephen Leonard had a goal attempt come back off the post, Newcestown pushed on well, with Cian Healy among the points and Luke Meade influential at centre-back while Seán O’Donovan was integral at midfield.
Mark Kelly’s point, resulting from an O’Donovan win on an Ilen kick-out, gave them that six-point lead but when Kieran Lynch picked out Leonard, he almost netted, his shot coming back off the crossbar. Ilen’s Seán O’Donovan had a follow-up shot blocked illegally by a Newcestown foot and a penalty resulted, with O’Donovan slotting home.
When Mac Eoin made an immediate impact after coming on at half-back, a second-half battle appeared to be in store but Ilen couldn’t find parity. Newcestown sub, teenager Séamus O’Sullivan, pointed on his introduction and they had breathing space when a superb goal was engineered as Luke Meade, Jack Meade, and Cárthach Keane played roles in giving Tadgh Twomey an easy finish.
By the second-half water break, they were 1-13 to 1-5 ahead and showed no signs of slowing when things resumed as Keane and Healy profited from good build-up play by O’Sullivan and Micheál McSweeney respectively.
Keane’s goal, set up by Jack Meade and O’Sullivan, put them 13 ahead and the captain added another when Twomey picked him out. Next up for them is a hurling clash with Killeagh before a tussle with Castlehaven, while Ilen will look to reset before a meeting with Carbery Rangers.
C Keane 2-1, C Healy 0-4 (1f), D Buckley 0-3, T Twomey 1-0, G O’Donovan, L Meade, S O’Sullivan 0-2 each, J Meade, M Kelly, C Dinneen (0-1f) 0-1 each.
S O’Donovan 1-1 (1-0 penalty, 0-1f), D Mac Eoin 0-2f, S Leonard, Peter O’Driscoll, D Collins, Conor O’Driscoll 0-1 each.
C White; M McSweeney, C Twomey, C O’Donovan; G O’Donovan, L Meade, C Dinneen; F Keane, S O’Donovan; M Kelly, D Buckley, C Keane; J Meade, T Twomey, C Healy.
S O’Sullivan for M Kelly (37), E Kenneally for Healy (52).
D O’Sullivan; Paddy O’Driscoll, D O’Driscoll, B Leonard; Cian O’Driscoll, S Minihane, Peter O’Driscoll; Conor O’Driscoll, Peadar O’Driscoll; C Harrington, S O’Donovan, D Collins; S Leonard, A O’Sullivan, K Lynch.
J Sheehy for Harrington, D Mac Eoin for Lynch (both half-time), M Bushe for B Leonard, T O’Regan for A O’Sullivan (both 45), D O’Driscoll for Peadar O’Driscoll (55).
A Long (Argideen Rangers).